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Posts tagged ‘time-management’

10 Steps To Getting THE MOST IMPORTANT Things Done

As I was doing my best to talk myself down from the increasing anxiety I felt about my list of “to-do’s” for the day, I automatically did something that was very helpful.  However, I didn’t really appreciate how powerful a strategy it is that I have learned.  It’s something that is so obvious to any kind of time management that many people might think it silly to address in an article.  Nevertheless, I believe that

“The simplest things are the most profound.”

This is one of those simple, profound things.

Here is what I did.

1.  I made a list of all of the things I hoped to accomplish that day.

2.  I put my best estimate of how long I thought each would take (going from my experience of how long something might take, rather than how long I think or wish it would take!)

3.  For several items, I put a range of time that something might take, like 3-4 hours or 20-30 minutes.

4.  I added up the total time, both the shortest and longest times.

5.  Not to be excluded because of its seeming simplicity, I also did my best to

realistically calculate how much time I had to work with

to get those items done.  It is so easy to skip over this essential step or drastically overestimate how much time I have by, say, not allowing time to prepare or eat lunch, or assuming that I can work for 6 hours straight or forgetting that I need to factor in a 15 or 20 minute walk for my dog, (who will then be much calmer and quieter for the remaining part of the day…)

6.  I thought, “Hmmm, there’s no way that I can get those 8-10 hours of things done in the 6 1/2 hours I have left before my daughter returns from school!  (I have realized that it is important to connect with my now 13-year-old, rather than continuing to attempt to get things done on my list, which takes away my focus and also takes away my presence for my daughter and for myself!)

7.  I identified the most important things for me to get done that day, either because of a deadline or because of the value they hold.

8.  I added my time estimates for the shortened “most important things” list.

9.  I compared whether my shortened list would fit into my “how much time I had to work with” estimate.  Still too long.  Bummer.

But, there’s hope.

10.  Back to #7.  Really zeroing in on

“What are absolutely the most important things that I want to get done this particular day?”

Sometimes the problem is that I was all geared up to finally get a particular thing done, but it is something that can actually be done on another day.  Sometimes the problem is needing to prioritize whether it is a family or personal or business thing that is most important on this particular day.  And sometimes it’s just that I have to recognize my own particular limits and appreciate that all of the little things I do in my home not only do matter but also do require time.  It’s still hard for me to do that, which is often why I run into trouble with time management.

Hopefully by this point, the length of time of my list of “most important things” now fits into the available time that I have.  If not, I repeat Step #10 until it does.  Sometimes I take my chances and jump headlong into it, in the hope of getting a bit more done than it appears I have time for.  Because I almost always use my longest time estimates when I add my total, sometimes this works, but typically it backfires, and my anxiety and frustration increase.  Not helpful and not what I’m aiming for!

Things always take longer than you think they’re going to take.

For reasons I’ve already addressed and for many other reasons.  Call it life, call it change, call it being human, call it whatever you want to, but it certainly helps to have this kind of strategy to increase the likelihood of getting done what you hope to get done.

And then, of course, follow your plan and do the things you’ve identified are most important!  By following through, you’re letting yourself know that what you have identified as important is of value and does matter.  Ultimately you are saying that you matter and what you decide matters.  Seems an obvious point, but it’s significant in our view of ourselves.

Keep your view of yourself positive and give yourself the support or strategy you need to more effectively manage your time.  And, as my husband sometimes suggests to me, you might even keep your lists for several days or a few weeks.  You’ll be astounded at what all you actually do get done as time goes on!

If you’d like the support of a coach who intimately understands this issue and can give you the support and structure you need to be more effective in this area, contact me.  It is such a joy to be a part of you creating a lighter spirit for yourself!

Here are the ways you can contact me.

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

Organizing Time

Otherwise known as time management, organizing time can be elusive.  When it is all laid out and clearly defined, all is well — except when there is too much structure.  Then there’s the temptation to scrap it all because it feels like there’s not enough space to breathe or move or think clearly!  I know I’m not alone, but that only helps a little bit.  It doesn’t do much for the practical side of wanting time to work more smoothly.

There is a gob of time management stuff out there, both in print and online.  I have waded through much of it, first in an attempt to get a handle on it in my own life, then with an intent to find what seems to be most useful for the people I write for and work with.

Consistency is the keyword.  Consistency.  Far easier said than done, eh?  We start out all gung-ho with our planner or calendar, wanting so much to believe that this new system or this new planner is THE ONE that will allow us to be successful with getting organized around time.  But…there’s often some key piece missing.

It may be that…

  • we have difficulty setting up a routine to check our planner each day.
  • there’s too much chaos in our daily lives, thwarting our efforts to establish some structure.
  • we don’t have the support we need to individualize our planner so that it works for us, rather than it working us!
  • we just don’t have the planner or system that “thinks” like we do.

Each of these challenges has a solution.  Your solution may be different than someone else’s.  Working with a coach is one way to not only discover what the right solution is for you, but also receive the support, structure and help with prioritizing that you may need to be successful.  A coach doesn’t do it for you but works with you to find the missing key or keys!  (Those “keys” may be literal or figurative!)

Something That Works

One of the keys that I have discovered is a system called the Planner Pad.  It is the closest system I have found for the way I think.  I have tried and used other planners and systems in the past, with some success, but this one comes the closest to what makes sense and seems to work the best.  I like it because it helps me keep track of the various categories of my life (personal, business, home, etc) and prioritize on a daily and weekly basis.  Each page is divided into three sections: the top is for categorizing your actions and projects, the middle is for daily prioritizing, and the bottom is where you schedule your appointments.

If you are a student or have a schedule that is not your typical 9 to 5 job, the Planner Pad can help you clarify what’s on your plate and what needs attention each day.  You still have to put in the work of creating the categories, identifying the projects and prioritizing what’s most important, but the Planner Pad provides a solid structure for that.

But It’s Not Magic

The biggest drawback for me was that I was attempting to put my entire list of everything (often referred to as a Master List) into each week’s categories.  You could certainly use some of the blank pages in the Planner Pad to put your Master List, but attempting to have everything that needs attention of some kind on each week’s pages is asking for overwhelm, which is particularly to be avoided when ADD is part of your life!  Aside from that, I have found it to be a really good system for time and project management.  It IS a pen-and-paper system, so it may not be the right one for you if you want to do that kind of planning on your computer.

A planner pad is only one system.  There are so many out there, both electronic and pen-and-paper ones.  Look around (if you haven’t already!)  If my description intrigues you or sounds like the way you think about time and project management, go check out the site: Planner Pad.  I found it to be very reasonably priced.  The site did have some hype (in my book, anyway), but it IS a good product that is different from other products out there.  I liked the description of  “How It Works.”

Looking for Support, Structure or Perspective?

If you’re looking for help with setting up a routine or dealing with chaos or just plain old need some support, contact me!  Working with people who have ADD (or who can relate) is a joy to me.  I love identifying your strengths and strategizing how you can use those to help in areas that are difficult for you.   It’s easy for me to see your creativity and all that you ARE doing RIGHT!  If you’re curious about working with me, here’s what you can do.

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

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