Excuse me, can you help me find time?

Time management has been one of my biggest struggles. In fact, I specifically remember my dad yelling at me to hurry up because I was going to be late for the bus...EVERY. MORNING. Unfortunately, I have not gotten any better at managing my time and this has definitely bled into my work. I strive to keep my New Years’ resolution of better time management, but fail to stick my regimented schedules. I was chatting with some girl friends about New Years’ resolutions and as we were discussing why some do and don’t work it clicked why none of my New Years’ resolutions have ever worked: I change my routine, not my way of thinking.

I read a Forbes article “Deepen Your Focus: Five Time Management Skills That Work”, (because I need all the help I can get), and Ron Lieback offers a few principles to understand before implementing said skills. The first principle is “Time management is not just about productivity, but intentional productivity.” There’s where shifting my mindset comes in – I need to be intentional about my productivity, not just give myself a schedule to stick to. It’s like saying “I’m just going to get on the freeway and follow the car in front of me” – if you don’t have a destination in mind, who knows where you’ll end up?

As I continued reading the article I realized I’m easily distracted. I’ll be half way through reading an article, see an email pop up and jump over to that for a quick response, but then my phone goes off with a text so I check that really quick, then I notice I missed a call so I see who that was, but someone walks up to my desk to ask me where something is so I pop up and get it for them (oh look a squirrel!), and when I sit back down I have completely forgotten what I was doing, so I start on a pile of paperwork, then I notice another email pop up, and…where was I? Oh yeah, back to this blog… How could I commit to a schedule if I am just going to get distracted and derail said schedule all together?

Here’s where Lieback’s Five Skills come in:

  1. Create distraction-free zones: Turn the notifications off and ignore the emails. Lieback references David Allen’s Two-minute rule – if you can get it done in less than two minutes, go ahead and get it done. It’ll save you some anxiety later on. But, if it takes more than two minutes add it to your schedule.
  2. Customize weekly and morning prep rituals: Carve out time each week and morning to plan your schedule. Prioritize what needs to be done in order to meet your goals, then:
  3. Block daily time: Make sure you’re blocking out a set amount of time specifically for these projects, But, don’t spend too much time on it or you’ll lose focus and your quality of work will suffer. 
  4. Let others know your intentions: Make sure others know what your plans are. In our office, we have access to each other’s calendars and do our best to respect times that are blocked out.
  5. Schedule mandatory downtime: This one is so important for your mental health. Make sure you are scheduling downtime outside of work to enjoy your favorite hobbies. Turn your phone off so you aren’t distracted by work emails and other distractions and be fully present and focused on the things you truly enjoy.

Approaching my time with the mindset of intentional productivity may be just the thing I have been missing all these years. Here’s to 2020 and finding time. 

About the Author 

+Michelle Genova is a consultant at Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and strategic planning), feasibility studies, recruitment, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Michelle directly at mgenova@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 209.

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