Our clients are rock stars. They do a lot. We are usually in the background as they are performing their day-to-day tasks cheering them on, or maybe even contributing to that ever demanding task list.
I’ve been thinking about time management and how it pertains to our clients, and us frankly. Is time management an issue? Yes. We all have so much on our plates already, plus the projects we are working on together, it gets a bit overwhelming. Then we have all those expectations to manage. The ones from our colleagues as well as from ourselves, and our families.
I’m no expert in time management, but here’s my take. It all comes down to our emotional motivations.
We all need to take an honest inventory of our lives and our priorities in order to better understand the motivations and reasons behind the tasks filling up our to-do lists. Saying “yes” to something means saying “no” to something else. But it also works the other way around. Saying “no” to that meeting means saying “yes” to leaving a little early to make it to your kid’s soccer game.
Start by asking yourself:
“Why am I doing this?”
Why do we do what we do? Is it because it's on a To Do List? Or is it because we are motivated to accomplish tasks out of guilt, fear, enthusiasm, or ambition?
We can read as many insightful articles on time management as we want, but at the end of the day, if we are not emotionally aligned with the tasks on our to-do list it won't matter. That's because managing our time is a lot more about managing our emotional motivations for doing what we have to do than it is about robotically accomplishing tasks.
The question of purpose is a key aspect of successfully managing your time.
Oftentimes, the "why" behind what we are doing is externally motivated, and this extrinsic motivation can be harmful to our success. If you are being motivated by external stimuli (a demanding boss, a struggling friend), you are less likely to feel empowered and less likely to produce quality work than if the motivation comes from within.
How do you change your motivation from external to internal? More than anything, it is about a shift in perspective from disempowerment to empowerment. It's important to acknowledge that if something is on your to-do list, it is because you allowed it to be on there. In any situation, you are ultimately the decision maker on whether or not you will take on a project. Though the directive may have come from your manager, it is you who will ultimately decide to follow the directive, because performing well at your job will ultimately make your life better. And that is really where the key to time management, or emotional management, comes from constantly asking yourself our next question which is:
“Will what I am doing today make my life better tomorrow?”
Keeping this question in the back of your mind can help shift your behavior to a more proactive, forward thinking mindset. Looking at tasks as investments in your future instead of as boxes to be checked off will help you to recognize opportunities to better yourself and improve your life. Whether it's turning off the TV and heading to the gym, or taking five extra minutes to sign up for automatic bill pay (because who doesn't love automatic bill pay?!) it will get better, and maybe even easier.
Automating tasks is one solution to our third question, which is:
“Is there an easier way to do this?”
Once you understand why you are doing something and have decided it is a worthwhile investment, it's time to ask yourself if you are accomplishing it in the most effective way possible.
Oftentimes, tasks can be simplified or even eliminated by taking advantage of automation or delegation. Don't be turned off by the initial time it takes to teach someone a delegated task or to set up the automation process. As discussed above, investing in these steps will only pay off in the future and make your life easier and more successful.
Lastly, with every task, you ultimately need to ask yourself,
"Is now the right time to do this?"
Sometimes, something can be a worthwhile investment or a great idea, but it's simply not the right time to dive in. Choosing the wrong time for a project, like when you are already overloaded with work, or when you are distracted with your personal life, can result in wasting a lot of energy forcing something to be before its time. Take a minute and ask yourself if some of the things you are working on would best be revisited in a few days/weeks/years. It can ultimately help you be more successful when you do decide to give it your full attention.
Time After Time
Understanding how emotion ties into our everyday thinking is what makes us human. Emotion is what makes great design great. It’s what makes a great marketing campaign great. And it’s that emotion that can help us manage our time much more effectively.
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