Looking at Time Management Differently

The concept of time fascinates me. When are we ever going to think we have enough? It’s as though every morning a new game of “Beat the Clock” starts as we collectively burst out of bed and start frantically trying to get  everything done that needs to be done before “it’s too late.”

How many of you fly into the office in the morning already feeling like you’ve put in a full day? And your “work” day hasn’t even begun yet?

I work a lot with busy, professional women who are often also mothers. I think this group is the busiest demographic on the planet. Honestly. No matter if the role of the woman in the home is that of primary caregiver or not, the women I work with want to give every area of their life their “all” – and that means they are B—U—S—Y busy!

I am in the midst of reading a book by Laura Vanderkam called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Vanderkam has the gall to declare that we are not as busy as we say we are, and then (like a ninja!) she shares stories of amazing people who are so efficient with their time they have time to write books, build corporate empires, train for marathons and whatever other time-intensive activity you can think of that they managed to achieve in between their regular responsibilities.

And while I looked at this list of high-achieving examples and silently groaned to myself, I also knew she was right. When you eliminate “time-wasting” activities and consciously fill them with things that will help you achieve your goals, you will actually “get more done.” I believe that.

But it didn’t sound very fun.

In fact, it sounded downright ruthless.

And that’s not how I wanted to live my life – blocking everyone and everything out except my “to-do” list so that I could feel accomplished at the end of the day.

Been there, done that.

Because even though I know how to be efficient with my time, I don’t always want to be that efficient. I don’t necessarily want to make the sacrifices that are often required to fit in writing that next bestseller while the children are sleeping.

It’s kind of like reaching your weight and fitness goals. You might know what you need to do to get there, but is it really worth the sacrifice? I don’t know about you, but I like chocolate – and other things – that will ensure I will never quite reach my ever elusive dream weight. But yet I digress. The point is, is the sacrifice to reach your goals worth it?

Is the sacrifice to reach your goals worth it?Click To Tweet

That’s the million dollar question.

Is it worth it?

Well, what if I told you it didn’t have to be a sacrifice?

What if you wanted to eke out that next bestseller while the children were sleeping – I mean really wanted it?

Then you’d do it.

And it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.

Which means something ELSE is getting in the way of you reaching your goals. You have consciously or – more likely, unconsciously – decided something else is more important than whatever that goal is.

And that clandestine prioritizing of other, more urgent and less important tasks, has gotten in the way of your less urgent yet more important goals.

So let’s connect with something that Vanderkam said that I completely agree with:

“True time management is about filling our lives with the things that deserve to be there.”

'True time management is about filling our lives with the things that deserve to be there.' Laura VanderkamClick To Tweet

This is the big secret to building a life where you really can have it all.

So let’s start taking a look at how we can do that for you:

My Top Tips on Building a Life Where You Actually Have Time for Everything:

1. Only do things you like
OK, this may sound really pie in the sky – so I challenge you, take a good hard look at your typical day, write it all down, in fact, and circle those things that you enjoy doing. If you notice that most of them are tasks you don’t enjoy, you will at least be able to identify where the problem begins.

2. Only do things you are good at
This is what Vandercam calls your “Core Competencies,” and it’s not a new concept for successful corporations the world over. Successful businesses know what they’re good at and know what they’re not good at. They know their core business, and what is not their core business. They hire out or sell the pieces of their business that are not essential to their day-to-day operations, and focus on being the best they can be where they excel.

“People who get the most out of life spend as much of their time as possible on their core competency activities, and as little as possible on other things.” – Vanderkam

3. Act ON PURPOSE
If something has snuck on your list that isn’t either #1 or #2, be conscious about why it’s there. Put it there on purpose. For example, if there’s no way a housekeeper fairy is going to sneak in your home and do all your housework, and you really hate doing it, what value are you honouring by doing it anyway? Who else can you get to help you do it? And be clear about whose standard you are living up to when you do choose to do it – yours, or your great-grandmother’s?

4. Work in a job you like
I know this can be a tough one for many of you. But it really is the key. If you hate your job, that job is going to feel like it has taken over your world and it is going to feel like it has expanded to fill your entire day. It will overshadow all that you do. And you will work just so you can pay the bills, and not because it gives you any other kind of satisfaction. Liking, if not loving your paying work is an essential part of feeling like you have enough time. AND if you’re worried about your status here, as Vandercam notes, 84% of full-time workers in the United States are not in their dream jobs.

5. Control your time
This is a huge one for me (I’m a bit of a control freak – something I continue to work on). Not feeling in control of your time is a huge contributor to stress. And I get that you likely don’t feel like you have full control of your time all the time. Somebody always needs something! If you could choose, you might choose something else – and notice who or what you are choosing to serve when you choose to do that thing that you feel you don’t have control over. That’s a choice, too.

6. Live according to your values
I am a huge proponent of living out what you believe. I have come to wholeheartedly understand that if we live by our values then we will ultimately be happier, feel more fulfilled, and – yes – even feel like we have more time.

Interested in learning more? I think I will have to publish a series on this as I could write a book on each one of these points. Stay tuned! And in the meantime, notice where you feel you are choosing, and where you feel you are not.

Susan Elford

P.S. If you’d like to receive regular doses of Balancing Your Total Life in your inbox twice a month, sign up here or below so you don’t miss a single issue! You will be joining a community of like-minded, career-loving, life-balancing, go-getters who want to make the most of every single day. And, if this is speaking to you in a way that is sparking you to make some real change in your life or in your career, and you’re looking for more CLARITY about what’s next so you can be SUCCESSFUL in your career or your business, send me an email and we’ll set up time for a complimentary Balance Breakthrough Session. We will get you well on your way to figuring out how you can make those needed changes so you can balance it all and feel fulfilled in your life and in your work.

Personal Balance Equation Workbook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a PR Strategist & Leadership Coach who especially loves to work with people who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a balanced life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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New from @susanelford: '6 Top Tips on Building a Life Where You Have Time For Everything'Click To Tweet

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