“I never have enough time!”
Time is the great equaliser, it is the one thing we all have the same amount of every day, 24 hours.
How we choose to spend it is up to us. Invariably it is something we all want more of. As soon as you start looking at how to get more things done, you want to find ways that you can maximise your time.
I work with a lot of busy professionals and help them to maximise their time, and using my methods you can discover how to maximise your time as well.
I tend to see two recurring issues when I work with my clients on their time management skills:
- Over-optimism about what they can get done
- Lack of awareness of how they are actually spending their time
Emma, why is over-optimism a problem I hear you ask? Surely optimism is a good thing.
Well generally it is, but if it is leading to you eventually feeling stressed and overwhelmed it is a problem.
We are pretty bad as a species at knowing how long we really spend on tasks. We tend to be over-optimistic about what our future self can get done. You may have only got 5 things done today but tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow you will cross 12 things off your to-do list.
This is why we end up creating overly optimistic to-do lists, which we will never be able to complete. This continued failure to ‘finish’ the to-do list, makes us feel stressed and overwhelmed, which are feelings that are not conducive to remaining productive.
We have all been there.
But it is useful to know that you are not alone in this wishful thinking. There’s even a scientific theory about why things always take longer than we think they will. It’s called the planning fallacy, and it means that a sense of optimism causes people to underestimate how long it will take them to complete a task.
Basically, we tend to estimate how long it will take to complete a task based on how long it typically takes when nothing goes wrong – for instance, It will take me 10 minutes to upload this blog.
The problem is that life is often atypical, meaning things can and will go wrong – your password doesn’t work, you lose internet signal, etc. Suddenly you have spent 30 minutes uploading that blog and you still haven’t quite finished. The more steps there are in any process, the more likely something is to go wrong, causing it to take longer than you planned more often.
There is a solution, and it is linked to the second issue I mentioned: lack of awareness of how you are actually spending your time.
Lack of awareness
Do you know where your time goes each day? Do you know how long you took to eat breakfast, read that article on Linked In, check your emails, scroll through Instagram, etc.?
All too often time just passes us by and we’ve reached the end of the day, without real awareness of how we have spent it.
There is an answer.
Track your time
Track your time for a week or so to learn the truth.
Track every detail of your time and what you’re doing – it’s amazing to see where it all goes! You could just include business hours, but for your own interest, you may want to extend it all day and get an insight into your life.
There are lots of good time tracking apps that you can use for this, like Rescue Time, but even pen and paper works. There is nothing like seeing it written out for a stark wake-up call about how you are actually spending your time.
Track your time for a week and you will be amazed at what you learn about yourself. This is how you learn how long it actually takes to upload that blog, and how long you are spending in your emails.
You can now adjust your scheduled time in your calendar to accommodate this new information of knowing how long your tasks really take. Don’t forget to include some flexibility and space in your diary in case things go wrong!
You can now make a conscious decision about how much time you want to spend on less productive activities such as browsing social media.
How to maximise your time
Another thing you can do is to review the tasks you’ve put down in your time tracker. Is it a good use of your time? Do you want to keep doing all these tasks? Is there anything missing you want to make time for?
We may all have the same amount of time, but by getting smart about how you spend your time, you can ensure you maximise your time doing the things that you want to be doing in your business and life.
Find further time management tips here
For a deeper look into how to maximise your time and create the calm business that you deserve, see my course The Organised Coach Method.
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