Time Management is Self-Management

Do you feel like there are not enough hours in the day, or are you able to get it all done with time to spare? Homelife and work-life have overlapped in ways we never expected, and it can be difficult to keep up with obligations and find time for everything that needs to be done. Some workers are juggling working from home with childcare and home-schooling. Others are managing teams that are part remote and part in-office. Either way, it can be challenging to get everything done.  

So, how can we manage to create more time each day? The simple answer is, you can’t. It is impossible to control or manage time. You can’t save it for use later, and you can never turn it back. What you can do is manage yourself and focus your attention. Best-selling author and Crestcom subject matter expert, Mark Sanborn tells us, “You can’t put more time in your life, but you can put more life in your time. To the degree that you can focus your time and expertise—and that of others—you will be able to create incredible results.” 

If you are struggling to get everything done each day, here are some ways you can improve your time management skills: 

Have Clear Goals – It is vital to be very clear about your overall goals, both short term, and long term. Being very clear about your long term goals helps prioritize your short term goals. Keeping these goals in mind can help you determine your daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists. 

Set Deadlines – Once you are clear on your goals, it is important to set deadlines for yourself. If you are working on a large project, break it into smaller chunks, and set deadlines for accomplishing each part of the plan. Take these deadlines seriously, and remember how they fit into your larger goals. 

Be Flexible – Remember that we are all at the mercy of the unexpected. So be prepared for things that will pop up in your schedule. Don’t overschedule yourself. Make sure there is a wiggle-room for an unexpected meeting or phone call. If something important comes up, don’t be too attached to your original plan. Keep your most critical priorities in mind, but know there will be times you have to change plans. 

Stop Trying to Multi-Task – It can be tempting to sort through your email during a long conference call or catch up on the news while writing a report. However, research shows that multitasking is not possible. Instead of doing two things at once, we are just switching our attention back and forth, limiting our ability to process information.  One Stanford University study showed that people who thought they were excellent multi-taskers remember fewer details and took longer to complete tasks than their single-tasking counterparts. An old Zen proverb says, “When walking, walk. When eating, eat,” meaning that it is better to focus on the task at hand than to try to focus on many things. 

Practice Self-Care – An important part of managing your focus and attention is self-care. When we are very busy, it is easy to prioritize to-do lists over rest, exercise, and diet. A well-rested, well-nourished mind is better able to focus attention. It is important to get enough sleep, take breaks throughout the day, and eat a well-rounded diet. Additionally, mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga can improve mood, concentration, and energy levels. Taking the time to care for yourself will help you become more productive when you are focused on work.