How to improve the way you manage your time
Our relationship with time is quite often a negative one. So let’s take a look at how to reframe it into something more positive.
How to Improve the Way
You Manage Your Time
Why am I talking about time?
Time and the concept of how much time we have available to us is a bit of a mind game, and I personally think this is a really important place to start when trying to become more productive in both your life and your business.
When life is busy, we naturally blame time, or more accurately a lack of it for being the issue. However, it’s not really the case. The issue is what we do (or don’t do) with the time available to us.
Time is the same for everyone:
- We all get the same amount
- It moves at the same pace for each of us
- And once it’s spent and gone, we can’t hit rewind to use it in a better way
We get one shot at what happens with our time, and I really believe this is why time, the movement of time and our perspective of having a lack of time, is a big reason for overwhelm and anxiety for a lot of business owners including me.
How does time make you feel?
Let’s take a little look at how the passing of time makes us feel because understanding our reaction to time is a great place to start if we don’t want to feel controlled and overwhelmed by the idea of its passing.
Here’s a couple of scenarios which I am sure you can relate to.
It’s the beginning of your working week and you have a full 7 days ahead of you, that’s 168 hours, but already this doesn’t feel like enough. You take a glance at the to-do list on your desk and panic sets in as you realise that not everything will get done this week. You then start to work out how much time you actually do have available to you. You consult your diary, and notice the appointments and meetings you already have in there.
The amount of time you have available this week is slowly decreasing. Things are never going to get done at this rate.
And what will happen if the kids get ill and need to stay off school, what about the shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. What if, what if, what if.
The week has begun in panic mode, and unless this is re-framed, the week will continue this way. The initial panic will become, overwhelm, overwhelm will become anxiety and anxiety will cause procrastination and procrastination will keep us stuck.
So what happens is we end up not using the time we have available at all because some of it is taken up with the fear of the passing of time and its associated consequences.
Scenario 1 - Re-frame:
Remember that there are 168 hours in the week. If we sleep for 8 hours a night, and work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, we have 72 hours left each week, now how can we possibly feel time poor when we know there are 72 hours of so far unallocated time ahead of us this week?
Can you see how it’s all about perspective. Instead of focusing on how little time you have, focus instead on how much time you do have.
It’s getting towards the end of the working week. Your part of the way through Thursday and the weekend is fast approaching. You know you have time planned with the family this weekend, so there’s no room to catch up on any of the work you don’t get completed.
As the weekend draws closer, you start to dread it arriving. You wish you didn’t have to spend the whole weekend with your family as you’re just too busy in your business. And then you feel guilty for having those thoughts and mentally beat yourself up for even thinking about them. Instead of concentrating on using the time you have available this week to its best, you find yourself getting upset, anxious and worried about taking time off this weekend.
Maybe you can work late tonight, or after the kids have gone to bed or super early tomorrow. But that will leave you exhausted and grumpy over the weekend, so you may as well not bother at all. Let’s face it, it’s not going to get done, so why bother even trying?!?
Scenario 2 - Re-frame
We get so absorbed in our businesses that we struggle to come out of it. Our to-do list is never ending - and always will be - and this adds to the pressure of wanting to work continuously.
However, constantly pushing without a break or spending well needed and deserved quality time with the people we love just ends in guilt, anxiety, overwhelm, burnout and even depression.
As the week starts to come to an end and we have plans for the weekend, it’s important to now look at what CAN be achieved before we stop working for the week.
There are items on your to-do list which have a greater importance than other tasks. These are tasks with deadlines, or where a commitment has been promised to a client or customer. They’re also things which, if not completed, will have a negative consequence to your business.
Not everything on your list has equal importance or urgency and therefore shouldn’t be treat as though the world will end if not complete. You need to learn to be honest with yourself here, as we lie to ourselves quite often about how important something really is.
When the end of the week is looming, and you still have items on your to-do list that need completing, make sure to be realistic with what actually NEEDS to be done.
Prioritise based on urgency and importance and look forward to the weekend. Don’t see it as something that’s getting in the way of your business. Instead see it as a well deserved break which will help you return to work on Monday raring to go and full of fresh ideas.
Is it time to make a change?
Can you see how allowing yourself to believe that you’re time poor and that everything is important and urgent can have a massive negative impact on the way that you work?
Removing the pressure of times passing and not seeing it as a battle you will never win, will allow you to remain calmer under pressure and choose to complete tasks in a more efficient and productive order.
This is a big mindset change and one I will continue to refer again and again because it’s a very powerful lesson to learn, but also one that is learned gradually over time (no pun intended).
Next time you hear that little voice inside your head being negative about time and your relationship with it, take a moment to re-frame it just as I have mentioned here. With practice, this will get easier and the passing of time will no longer be a daily battleground in your business.
Have a super productive day.
How would you rate your relationship with time?
Give it a number from 1-10;
1 = time is always against me, it’s just how it’s always been.
5 = it’s neither good or bad
10 = I embrace time and it’s passing as everything always works out good for me.
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To help maintain a healthy relationship with time, I track every moment that I work. This helps me to work out where my time is going and make decisions on where my time would be better spent.
To track my time I use an app called Toggl, which is great and super simple to use.
Check out Toggl.com for more information.