If you’ve got your time managed down to the minute and your productivity is at an all-time high, congratulations. Now take a picture, because it will last longer. Life has a way of throwing us a curve just when we thought we had things figured out. If you’ve been feeling the pressure of wasted time and disorganized tasks lately, here are some simple (but brilliant) tips to get time management back on track.
1. Ask yourself questions. And ask yourself the right kind of questions. Instead of asking “WHY do I always get off track?” ask yourself “HOW can I get back on track?” Your brain is wired to answer questions (Quick! How big is the room you’re in? Bet you started trying to figure it out!) Give your mind a good project so it can start searching its database for answers. If you go with the “why” on this one, your brain will rehearse all of your self-limiting beliefs. Ask the “how” so you can find personalized solutions.
2. Recognize and delete discouragement about time management. Do you realize that your discouragement may be a bigger problem than the actual problem? As long as you tell yourself you’ll NEVER get organized and you’re SUCH an idiot, you’ll stay stuck. You talk to yourself more than you talk to anyone else. Since I have what amounts to an advanced degree in discouragement, I can say it: discouragement is a choice. Aided and abetted by fatigue, stress, physical issues and other factors perhaps, but we always have a choice about where we’ll let our thoughts wander. Recognize where your thoughts are, then search-and-replace with gratefulness and hope about making progress.
3. Use what you’ve got. This isn’t the time to go buy a new planner or spend hours Googling a new system. That’s a convenient way to waste time and avoid facing your tasks. You can rock time management with a piece of paper and pen.
4. Set a timer for ten minutes. Okay, I’ll let you go buy a timer, just stay out of the planner aisle. Setting a timer for ten minutes and working with laser focus on a task is a non-overwhelming way to get the ball rolling. The success and relief you feel will fuel the next ten-minute slot. When you’re ready you can set the timer for longer periods but when you’re in get-back-on-track mode (especially if you’ve been a slacker for a while), ten minutes is golden.
5. Have a reward ready and waiting. This has a two-fold benefit. You’ve been feeling guilty about doing things you like to do because you knew that you should have been doing the stuff you need to do. So not only do you get to look forward to something that refreshes you, you get to enjoy it without guilt. You may be tricking yourself into getting to work, but at least you’ll have some fun in the process!
6. Commit to a season of focus on your time management. Take advantage of your motivation to get back on track by making it a priority for a season. That may be a week or it may be a month. You may choose to let some other things go while you’re getting back on track with managing your time, and that leads to the next tip….
7. One thing at a time. Thinking you have to multi-task and fix everything at once is a recipe for overwhelm. Start with a list of areas you need to get under control. Then work on one. You’ll know the rest are waiting on your list so you don’t have to worry about forgetting. Learn to be okay with waiting until Tuesday to work on expense reports. Stay calm and know that you’ll schedule Social Media posts this afternoon. Working steadily through your list one thing at a time beats a scattered approach that causes you to give up before you’ve started.
Let’s face it—sometimes we get sloppy with time management because we’re blocking ourselves. We’ve gotten into thought habits about our tasks or we’ve believed lies about what we’re able to accomplish. There may be deeper reasons for our choices about what we do with our time and a mentor can help us process that.
But if you’ve just gone through an extra-busy season or you’re dealing with some life changes, work through these simple tips to get time management back on track. Soon you’ll be back in the groove with your tasks and your time, ready to get more done with less stress.
Charlotte Siems is a happy wife and mom of twelve who is a speaker, author and coach. After losing 100 pounds with T-Tapp, she became a Master T-Tapp Trainer, sharing her encouraging story with people all over the world. She has built a successful online business and writes about family life and T-Tapp at www.ThisLovelyPlace.com. Charlotte’s life experiences and training have uniquely qualified her to help others create a successful family and business.