Time management is a widely discussed issue. There are tools out there which are supposed to help you organize yourself in the most productive way. There are coaching techniques and special approaches, patati patata. Some of them work, some of them don’t. Yet, whichever tool you decide to apply it all starts with you. A tool is only a support for the mindset, but not the other way round.
Speaking about myself I have many interests and projects running simultaneously at all times. Besides, an important add-on: I am a mother of two very active toddlers. How do I do it and not go nuts?
In this article I will not criticize the tools, nor will I try to invent one of my own. What I would like to do, however, is to ask you three questions, which helped me find a way and hopefully will help you find your way to do it all.
First question is probably the most critical of all: What is defined by “all”?
That’s right. When you ask yourself or somebody else a question “How to do it all?” what exactly do you understand by that “all” part?
I will give you an example. A young mother spends the whole day running around, cleaning up the mess, calming down her kid, dressing her up, walking with her, feeding her, cleaning up the mess again… At the end of the day she says: “But I didn’t do anything.” That’s not true. What might be true however, is that she most probably didn’t do anything for herself. In other words, in her role as a mother she accomplished tons of stuff, but she didn’t do anything (or did just a bit) in her role as a woman, as a professional or whatever other role is noteworthy for her.
There are several moments to pay respect to:
First, if that young mother doesn’t have a nanny or a grandma on stand-by, or a significant help of her husband, there will be those moments of “no time for anything else”. This is just a fact. What you can, and actually should do, is just accept it for starters for what it is. There is no need to worsen your situation by adding up a worrying factor.
Either you can change the situation and then there is no need to worry; or you cannot change the situation and there is no point to worry.
Second, what is needed is the clarity as to what exactly has to be done.
- Which are your short-term tasks?
- Which are the steps that could be taken to get you closer to realization of your big plans and goals?
The best way to reflect on all this is in a written form. Writing in general is an amazing exercise! But in the context of time management, or more precisely finding time, writing allows you to capture and preserve what otherwise will be lost forever.
What is your destination?
If you don’t know which port you are sailing to, no wind will be favorable. That’s a quote of Seneca which I truly love.
In other words, your eventual success starts with clearly defining what is it exactly that you value, want, and need in life.
Then it is about distilling small steps that — not immediately, yet eventually — will bring you there.
When this is defined, it is much easier to focus on what’s important when you suddenly have a free moment.
Let me give you an example, as otherwise I am telling too much theory. I will use that of my own. One of my BHAG’s (big hairy audacious goals) is my own vineyards (yes, you should always shoot for the stars!). I don’t see it happen tomorrow, however, I have made a detailed list of small steps I can take towards that goal. Now, when I have a free moment, I can grab my list and make a tiny step forward.
The point is: tiny steps accumulate first into something small, then medium and then — one day you are just there.
Yet, once again: the starting point is defining for yourself where that “there” actually lies.
After you have figured out which goals and tasks you would definitely want to achieve; after you have learned not to worry when there is no need or point to worry; it is time to ask yourself:
Are you able to say “no” to all the things, which are not important for you at this moment in time?
Remember, you are always saying: “no” anyway. However, it is about saying: “no” to the “right” things, or better to the “wrong” things.
For example, every time you are saying: “yes” to making a three-course meal, you are saying: “no” to the possibility to lie down and relax or to a moment to read a book, you name it. In the context of a young mother, sometimes lying down for half an hour is hundredfold more valuable than a three-course meal (while pizza is also satiable enough and probably will even be more appreciated). This is an intended exaggeration, but the point to remember is that:
we say: “no” all the time by saying: “yes” to something else.
Thus, if you are serious about mindfully achieving everything you want to achieve, it is essential that you also mindfully say: “no”. In this way you are rearranging your internal resources in the most efficient way.
To conclude, let me stress once again the most crucial take outs:
- thoroughly know yourself, what you stand for and where are you going to;
- never worry (it’s pointless anyway);
- regularly make at least tiny steps forward (they accumulate!) and
- learn to say the “right no’s”.
In this way you will dollars to doughnuts be able to do it all.
About the author:
Maria Boicova-Wynants is a mother of two, a lawyer with an MBA degree, Family Life CEO, mediator, personal buddy, author, speaker, blogger, amateur golfer and creative chef. Her blog http://familylifeceo.com is dedicated to lifestyle balance and efficient organizing household and family life. Recently she has launched her new project on the crossroads between mediation, coaching and strategy — “personal buddy: wise friend for rent”.
Tags: how to do it all, how to manage time, how to be efficient