I taught a time management class recently at Nonprofit Learning Point. (I love those folks! If you're in Richmond and work in the nonprofit sector, definitely check them out.)
One of the registered participants for the class didn't show up. She signed up and paid in advance, but then she called this morning to cancel.
Why? She didn't have enough time for it.
(And yes, she recognized the irony.)
Do you find yourself in a similar Catch-22? You're so busy that you don't have time to stop and take the steps you know would help you feel less overwhelmed?
Spending two days in a time management class with me is not the only solution.
Try this self-observation exercise that my students and I all did in the week between our two sessions...
Each morning for the next week, mentally divide yourself into two people: one who acts in life and one who watches. The watcher will simply observe you as you go about your day. Not judging. Simply observing. To help yourself remember to keep observing, you may find it useful to post a few reminders around you.
Stop once or twice each day (e.g., at midday and at the end of the day) and ask yourself the following questions. Record your answers in your journal or in a dedicated file on your computer. (Or try a hybrid approach and record them in this free online private journaling application.)
- How satisfied am I with my time and stress management today? What do I want to do more of? Less of?
- When was I at my most effective? What about the situation or my own actions seemed to contribute to my effectiveness?
- What slowed me down or distracted me?
- What have I learned about myself today that can help me as I go forward?
I've taught this two-day time management workshop many times, and I always ask the participants to do this simple exercise (which is adapted from James Flaherty's book, Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others).
Unfailingly, it produces some of the most powerful insights of the whole class.
That's because the heart of effective time management is not about knowing the right task management application to use, or about the right rules to follow for eliminating excess email or tearing through your to-do list.
It's about knowing yourself.
When you recognize the barriers you put in your own way, then you can do something about removing them.
When you discover what's already working well for you, you can learn from those successes and reproduce them in other situations.
I invite you to try this for a week, and then meet me back here next time for some practical tips for taking action on your discoveries.
Are you in?