How is it that we have more systems, technology aids and checklists than ever before and yet we still seem to be behind? We work longer hours, move faster, have smartphones that we carry with us everywhere organising our lives and tell us where to be and when, and yet we seem busier than ever, with reported stress now being at an all time high. Could it be that we are doing it all wrong??
Traditionally we have worked to a theory that good time management is based upon priorities and these priorities can be calculated based upon the importance and urgency of each task. Thinking we can divide our use of time-based upon efficiency sounds logical but prioritising does not actually create more time…it simply puts the ‘To do’ list in order according to our belief of what is most important. Often when we feel our workload is heavy we simply try to do things faster or to juggle multiple tasks. How often do you hear someone saying “I’m in a rush”, “Sorry really busy, got to run” or “I would love to catch up but I’m really under the pump at the moment”…. How often have you said these statements yourself?
You see, all of the tools, the systems and methodologies available today are based on ‘logic’ and don’t take into account the ‘emotional’ side of being human and yet it is our emotional state that creates the feeling of overwhelmed, of being too busy and of never quite being able to catch up.
What we are missing is the application of a time factor?
We can’t create more time, after all, there are only 24 hours in any one day, but we can give ourselves the permission to spend time on creating the mental space to hold back the tasks;
To create space in our day to plan what can be done today that will make tomorrow better?
This seems so obvious I hear you cry. If it were that easy then we all would be doing it…correct?
What seems to hold us back from taking the time to create space to think and to plan are those very human feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety, worry, and frustration. These feelings dictate how we spend our time, just as much as the items on our ‘To do’ list. We as humans find it very hard to say ‘no’ to that extra wee task at work, ‘no’ to a coffee with a friend that we only see every couple of months or ‘no’ to that task that we really don’t have time for but feel that it is expected of us… even though we know that by doing these things we are taken away from that walk that you promised yourself or that special project that you really wanted to finish or even just a quiet glass of wine and good book.
What we don’t stop to consider is that while we are saying ‘yes’ to those things that appease our guilt we are in fact, by default, saying ‘no’ to a multitude of other possibilities. Could this be why some people create wonderful complex ideas while others struggle to make a small change?
I’m not suggesting to go about saying ‘no’ to everything and everyone but I am saying to give yourself permission to guard your time fiercely. Allow yourself to sit and think. It’s time to get off the Hamster wheel and plan what you want to happen in your life. This small gift to yourself will create focus, direction and a feeling of power; A knowledge that you are in control of the ‘To do” list and not the other way around. Any feeling of being overwhelmed, of being pushed and pulled, barely in control will become a thing of the past. Achieving that for yourself in my view is the definition of good time management and that is what success is all about.