Winter Solstice has passed, a new year is upon us and the days are getting longer again. Yet, juggling all the moving parts and competing priorities (New Year’s resolutions and all) in our lives is still a tricky piece of business! Feeling like you’re constantly racing against the clock, and not accomplishing all that you’ve set out to do can quickly become demotivating and discouraging. Managing our time in this modern, fast paced, deadline driven world only adds to the pressure!
Time management is more than scheduling or keeping to-do lists; it is budgeting your time to fit your particular lifestyle, goals and responsibilities. Effective time management encompasses prioritization of tasks, balancing your workload-leisure time and increasing efficiencies and productivity levels. Developing a Budgeted Time Management Plan which consists of Managing Expectations, Your Team, Productivity Levels, Daily To-Do Lists and Rewards will go a long way to making the most of your waking hours, reducing stress from the pressures of beating the clock and enabling you to pursue other enjoyable activities.
THE ELEMENTS OF A PERSONAL BUDGETED TIME MANAGEMENT PLAN:
Manage Expectations- Managing both internal and external expectations will alleviate some of the pressures that can immobilize or paralyze us from moving forward with successfully achieving and completing our goals. “Rome wasn’t built in day” holds very true here. Taking the time to not only start but finish what we start by performing one task at a time, means that we are not consuming more time by rushing around partially completing multiple projects and having to remember where we left off.
Having a good understanding of both the limitations and opportunities which your working environment holds will support you in not only managing yours and others expectations, but in articulating them as well. A stay at home parent, an office worker, a student and a home based worker all have very different working environments. Thus, varying needs and equipment, required levels of supports, responsibilities and availability. Some Managing Expectations questions to ask ourselves are:
a) Is this something I currently have the capacity (i.e. emotional, financial, spiritual, physical) to take on?
b) Who on my Team can support me with accomplishing this/these task(s)? (See “Your Team” below)
c) What is the priority, importance and urgency of this task? (Does it need to be done today, next week, etc.?)
d) Should I be taking this task/activity on? Is it part of my role(s)?
All are key to balancing what we believe is required of us, what are our actual responsibilities and when they realistically need to be actioned or accomplished (that is, they have a hard and set time frame for completion).
Your Team- The first part of creating your team is to identify, establish and continue to expand a Support Network (these are people who are most likely already present in your day-to-day life). Your Support Network can be anyone from co-workers, to friends, family, neighbours, groups (e.g. support, interest, networking) or service providers such as cleaning personnel, personal assistants, project managers and babysitters. These are individuals who cannot only be assigned tasks to take on, but can provide you with rest breaks and also act as a sounding board for decision-making, connecting and relating.
The second part of creating your team is learning to identify your needs, asking and delegating help. We often view asking for help as a sign of failure or incompetence. We are not islands; seeking help when we need it most decreases the risk of us isolating ourselves and depriving our communities of the opportunity to exercise and extend their skills, (an act of service always takes more than more one participant!) Humans are social beings and natural helpers; we like and thrive from being involved. Here some questions to ask ourselves so we can leverage one of our best resources, Our Teams:
a) Is this something I need to do? Or, can someone else accomplish this on my behalf with me providing oversight?
b) What tools, equipment or expertise can I utilize from My Team to support me in accomplishing this task? (Intangible supports- emotional and spiritual are just as vital as tangible ones- financial and physical).
c) Who on My Team has the “best fit” human resources (i.e. qualifications, availability, resources, etc.) for doing or helping me accomplish this task?
Your Team is a phenomenal resource- and does not always require face-to-face interaction. They are your biggest emotional support and champions for successful, stress-free goal completion.
Productivity Levels- Assessing our energy peaks and valleys contributes to creating an usable and personalized Time Management Plan. Remember to embed rest and break periods into your Budgeted Time Management Plan. This increases productivity and discourages burn out. Here are some questions to ask yourself to assist with this:
a) What time of day do I have the most energy and am the most productive and focused?
b) What environment and/or tools will enable me to complete this task successfully and efficiently? (E.g. Am I more productive in open areas around people? Or, behind closed doors with silence? Does music motivate me and technology keep me organized better? Or, am I better supported with visuals like wall charts, calendars and vision boards?)
c) What are my biggest time wasters? (What things do I spend too much time doing or too much time trying to start? Also known as, time paralyzers. Calculate how much time you are actually contributing to these tasks as opposed to others? Are they truly “top priorities”? Which habits are currently enabling time wasting?)
d) What resources (e.g. technology, community, etc.) do I have to help me increase my productivity and efficiency? (What resources, tools do you have/can easily access to efficiently decrease the amount of time spent on certain activities?)
Budgeted Daily To-Do Lists- Because of our varied schedules each day will hold different priorities that need to be accomplished on that particular day. No one day is the same. Creating a blanket, uniform to-do list that is reviewed daily is often not the most effective way to establish a to-do list, and only generates what looks like a potentially immobilizing “backlog” of tasks to wade through. Budgeted Daily To-Do Lists are organized into different time slots (e.g. 15 minutes to wash dishes, 45 minutes to check and respond to emails OR 9:30 – 9:45 am Wash dishes, 9:45 – 10:30 am Check emails). Here are some questions to ask yourself when creating your Budgeted Daily To-Do Lists:
a) Do I have any set deadlines and for which particular days?
b) What appointments, meetings do I have and for which particular days?
c) What chores and errands need to be accomplished and on which particular days?
d) Is it a reoccurring task and how often?
e) Have I padded my time slots enough to create the flexibility in my schedule that I need?
f) Have I factored in rest periods? (Time to read, nap, watch tv, draw, write, soak in the bath, etc.)
Understanding and getting a clearer picture of the items which have hard and fast timelines will make it easier to schedule in household chores, errands, rest, leisure and social activities.
Whenever possible schedule errands after a scheduled appointment, meeting or other scheduled activity that takes you away from home, schoo or work. This will increase your productivity and make it easier to remember as it follows a pre-existing or current activity.
For example, on Tuesday you have an one hour lunch meeting at 1:30 pm with one hour travel time there and back, you have to pick up groceries (the grocery store is halfway between home and your meeting), and it’s your night to cook supper by 6:45 pm. Tuesday’s Budgeted Daily To-Do List would look like:
12:45 pm – Travel time
1:30 – 2:30 pm – Afternoon meeting
2:45 – 3:15- Travel time
3:30 – 4:30 pm – Grocery shopping
4:45 – 5:15 – Travel time
5:30 – 6:00 pm – Rest, leisure or other activities
6:00 pm – Prep and cook supper
Whenever possible always pad your time slots to allow for more flexibility and reduce “rushing” around. Factor in busier times of day like mornings, lunch hour, after school, rush hour, etc.
Rewards- Acknowledge and celebrate your daily achievements through healthy activities and affirmations. Sometimes all it takes is a “Yay me!” in front of the mirror or doing your “happy dance”. Nothing motivates more than taking the time to both recognize and share our wins.
Budget time and give yourself the gift of time!
Have a prosperous, fun, opportunity filled, caring and sharing New Year!! 🙂
The Process of Life blog posts are inspired lessons, learnings and meditations acquired for myself and my fellow growth journeyers- Coach Melanie