How To Think About Time... So You Can Have More Of It
There aren’t enough hours in the day….
There’s not enough time….
I can’t possibly make this all work...
There is too much to do and not enough time to do it….
How often do you find yourself thinking these thoughts?
Weekly... daily... several times a day?
Well, of course you do!
Modern life demands that we are ‘on’ all the time; immediately responding to every email, text, phone call and request for time and/or attention.
This compulsion to immediately react to everything (regardless of it’s importance!) is one of the biggest threats to effective time management.
We are still figuring out what time looks like in this post-covid world. We are remote, back to the office, and hybrid versions in between. We drive our children to endless activities, competitions, and playdates (that we sign them up for!). We squeeze in rest, play and sleep where we can.
Often the thing to slip by the wayside, is taking care of our own physical and mental health - which is arguably the foundation that allows us to do all of the other things well.
There is huge room for improvement here.
We can immediately begin by viewing our daily activities and tasks from a different perspective.
We can use a critical eye, and couple it with a mindset shift to more effectively view our tasks and available time.
For those of you scrambling to fit it all in, here is a 3 Step Plan to more effectively manage your time!
FIGURE OUT WHAT IS URGENT VS
WHAT IS IMPORTANT
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important” - Stephen R. Covey
How many of us does this ring true for?
What's wonderful here is that even the simple awareness that we're doing this is so powerful. From there, sky is the limit.
Stephen Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, revolutionized the way we work. Covey highlights that we mis-manage our time, spending too much of it reacting to urgent matters and doing things that are not really important.
In effect, we have less time to do things that are important, but not urgent - which is exactly where we want to spend it.
Let’s look at this pic.
Too much time in Quadrant I is all-consuming, and leads to the overwhelming stress of always being in reaction mode and constantly putting out fires.
Many of us (shoutout here to.... myself!) spend too much time in Quadrant III on urgent, but not important issues like emails, calls and crossing random things off your To Do List. This is the direct path to overwhelm and to feeling out of control.
Excessive focus on Quadrant IV is where the busy work/time wasting things live. Hello social media ;)
The majority of our efforts should be focused on Quadrant II.
Get proactive. Build relationships, envision an incredible future with great detail, take impeccable care of your body and mind. Work on your photography, your knitting, your bird watching. Create big goals. Journal about your future self. Read your self-improvement books and then put into action what you've learned.
THIS is where the real gains are.
** PRO TIP! For each Quadrant, write down your daily activities and an estimate of how much time you spend doing them.
*What do you notice?
*What are you spending the most time on?
*Is it in line with where you want to be?
*What are the ways you could spend more time in Quadrant II?
Learn how to create more time for Quadrant II below!
STEP 2: THE 4 D’s OF PRODUCTIVITY
We know now that we need more Quadrant II time, but how do we get it?
The 4 D’s of Productivity.
This principle is the work of Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt in their book, The Power of Focus.
This popular strategy helps you more effectively prioritize with a strategy to quickly determine whether a project or task is worth your time.
Do: Important + Can only be done by you = DO.
Confirm that it really is a task that can be done only by “you”. A lot of us (i.e. ME) feel that if we want something done right, we need to do it ourselves. Let’s work to let go of the overwhelm of perfectionism and get on board with imperfection!
Delegate: Free up your time by delegating tasks that can be done by others. This goes for co-workers, family members (yes, even children), volunteers, paid help etc…. If someone else can do it, and you have the means, do it. Work on trusting that it will get done (....at least adequately).
If the kids are loading the dishwasher, will it look like it does when you do it? No. Will there be a plate or two that doesn’t see the soap? 100%.
Here’s another opportunity to embrace imperfection and pop that dirty dish back in for another spin around the dishwasher.
Delete: Not important? Get rid of it.
Don’t waste your To Do List space - or head space! - with items that don’t even matter. Be ruthless.
Defer: If the task is not urgent, but you want to address it, delay it for later.
**PRO TIP! Get it off your To Do List and put a reminder in your phone for a later date. This eliminates the need for you to do it right now just so you can cross it off your list - even though it’s not important or urgent (*IYKTYK).
Example: Creating a 2021 family photo album. I will defer this All. Over. The. Place. So, I put a reminder in my calendar for a time in the future to remember to do it later, and then I don’t have to keep seeing it on my list/ignoring it/feeling compelled to do it now.
*If You Know Then You Know ;)
STEP 3: MINDSET SHIFT
You talk to yourself more than anyone - be very careful of what you say….
“I don’t have enough time to do everything”
I not only thought this when I woke up today, I actually wrote this down to really reinforce to myself that I would be completely incapable of doing all the things that were required of me. Eeks.
Negative, disempowering thoughts like these often make up the background static of our lives….. The challenge is that we don’t even consciously recognize that we’re thinking them.
The thought, “I don’t have enough time to do everything” leaves me feeling overwhelmed and powerless.
When I’m thinking that thought, my inner List Maker comes out in full force. And then I’m just making 50 lists and spinning about all the things I need to get done - all while not actually doing any of the things.
Which of course results in…. me not getting anything done.
Our results are always proving our original thoughts true.
So, armed with the awareness of this negative thought loop playing in the background of my mind, I purposefully changed my thought to:
“I have time to get to the things I need to get to”.
And in this simple switch, I went from overwhelmed and flustered, to confident and determined.
And importantly, my brain went to work figuring out ways to get it all done. “Hey - I can ask my husband to pick up the kids today”. And that one solution made all the difference.
The result? I accomplished the important things on my list. (Note I did not say everything on my list- I focused on the important things!)
I proved my original thought true and created evidence for myself that I did have time to accomplish what I needed to do.
Here’s the mindset shift…..
You are building evidence one way or another, so build it in a way that supports the best version of you.
You can build evidence for scarcity and lack “There’s just not enough time”, or “I’ll never get it all done”.
When we think those thoughts, our results will always prove them true.
Negative thoughts → create negative feelings → which create negative actions and results.
Why not instead, create proof of it’s opposite?
”I am figuring out a way to make it work”, “I’m in charge of how I spend my time”, or “I’m going to put my energy and focus on the important tasks today”.
What kind of results do you think these thoughts would create in your life? Are they more likely to help you accomplish your goals?
Here’s the Mindset Shift breakdown:
** PRO TIP! Use this for Time Management and also anything
in the world you want to change and/or improve.
* Bring awareness to your thoughts - notice in particular those nagging negative ones.
** PRO TIP! Write it all down. Get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper where you can get a little distance from them.
* Remind yourself….. YOU are in charge of your thoughts.
* Reframe negative thoughts to more supportive/positive ones
** PRO TIP! The new thoughts MUST feel believable to you or they won’t work.
* Create evidence to support the positive thought. Intentionally recognize when things go the way you want them to.
* Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.
This Awareness + Mindset Shift is where real change takes place.
THE BIG TAKEAWAYS
In a world with ever-increasing demands on our time, recognize that YOU are in charge of your thoughts about time and how you spend it.
** Figure out what’s important on any given day.
** PRO TIP! Turn off notifications and/or put on the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone (my fav!) to eliminate non-important calls for your attention.
** 4 D your way through your To Do List. Remove unnecessary work wherever possible. Be ruthless.
** Use the language and context of abundance, not scarcity when you talk to yourself and think about time. Reframe and repeat as needed (i.e. often!).
** Enjoy all that extra time on your hands!
Comment below with your favorite time management strategies!
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