Life often feels like a balancing act, especially for women who juggle the myriad of roles as parents, caretakers, and professionals. From sending out birthday cards to keeping up with household chores and more while pursuing their careers, women find themselves at the epicenter of numerous responsibilities. I often hear women say they feel like they are drowning due to lack of time. If you often feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, this post is for you!
Understanding Time Management: A Multifaceted Challenge
Time management is far from being a one-size-fits-all concept. It all boils down to how we're wired and what we expect from ourselves and others, including what our culture expects of us.
Speaking for myself, I make it a point to do what I promise and be on time. Being punctual, meeting deadlines, and keeping my word are personal values of mine — and they’re important in business, too. Proper time management is the key to achieving those things. Sometimes, that means I have to cut back on my commitments, and that's okay because I want to make sure I fulfill my responsibilities. After all, we establish our reputation by how well we keep our promises and manage our time.
However, not everyone values or practices effective time management. You probably know someone who’s habitually late or a co-worker or vendor who stretches deadlines way longer than necessary. Sadly, that lack of attention to managing time can negatively impact the impression others have of them.
Why Do Some People Seem to Ignore the Importance of Time Management?
Something called "optimism bias,” thinking positive things are more likely to happen to us and negative things are less likely, can lead to unrealistic optimism — and poor time management. People experience this bias when they believe everything is within their control. But life can throw unexpected challenges like traffic jams, technical issues, or family emergencies at us. Optimism bias can derail someone’s good intentions to fulfill deliverables and promises on time because they don’t account for unanticipated circumstances.
Our environment plays a significant role as well. Our family upbringing might have instilled in us a super relaxed, "go with the flow" attitude, or it might have nurtured in us high expectations for punctuality and discipline. Either way, we can carry these outlooks and habits into our adult personal and professional lives.
Also, company culture affects people’s MO. For example, some companies expect employees to arrive at the office at a specific time — on time — and leave at a certain time. While others are more lenient and flexible with their work hours. What’s considered acceptable in different places and contexts influences how important — or not — time management will be.
Let's talk about procrastination. Is it a mindset issue or a resource problem? I believe it's a bit of both, but a big part of it is how we feel about our tasks. We tend to put off things we don't want to do or we lack the motivation and resources to start them. Starting is often the hardest part!
People who habitually procrastinate may not have learned or felt the need to change their ways. I've seen team members who always delay tasks until the last minute. They don't even realize they’re doing it because it has become an ingrained habit. It's tough to change (or even have the desire to change) after you’ve been in the habit of doing something a certain way for so long.
There's a concept in the book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" called the "Do Something Principle." It suggests that action should come before motivation. This might sound strange because most of us wait for inspiration before doing something. However, the book advises us to take action first, even if just a small step toward progress, and motivation will follow. The formula is Act, Action, Inspiration, Motivation. So, instead of waiting around or procrastinating, we should just do something — anything — to get started. I’ve found it’s great advice for overcoming writer's block, and I encourage you to try it the next time you find yourself procrastinating on a task or project.
Timeless Time Management Tips
You've probably heard the saying, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person!" In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, effective time management is the key to personal and professional success. It’s not easy, so I’ve developed some tips to help you not only manage your time efficiently and optimize your productivity but also maintain your well-being in the process. Ultimately, I hope these suggestions will empower you to conquer your goals and achieve more life/work balance.
- Learn to say no – Only commit to projects you can fulfill. Saying no helps you avoid overloading yourself with tasks and ensures you can effectively deliver on your promises.
- Delegate tasks – Focus on your strengths, and delegate tasks you dislike or aren't proficient in. Delegating not only lightens your workload but also allows others to excel in areas where they shine, fostering a more productive team.
- Ask for help – Don't be afraid to seek assistance when needed. Asking for help demonstrates your resourcefulness and can lead to innovative solutions and improved teamwork.
- Allocate extra time – Add buffer time into your schedule to accommodate unexpected events. Creating extra time cushions helps you stay adaptable and less stressed when unforeseen issues arise.
- Work ahead – Whenever possible, complete tasks in advance to create flexibility. Working ahead gives you the freedom to adjust your schedule when new opportunities or priorities emerge.
- Recharge – Take breaks and vacations to prevent burnout and gain perspective. Regular breaks and vacations are essential for maintaining your energy and creativity, ensuring you can tackle tasks with renewed vigor.
- Accept imperfection – Understand that your inbox will never be empty and your to-do list will never be completely checked off. Embracing imperfection allows you to focus on what truly matters and reduces the stress of pursuing an unattainable ideal.
Intrigued By The Complex Puzzle of Time Management?
The dilemma of time management is so prevalent that Vixen Divine and I decided to tackle it in our recent #LightHerProject podcast episode. In our conversation, we explore various facets of time management, including:
- Our views on procrastination (Vixen and I are polar opposites here!)
- How personality types affect our ability to manage our time
- The concept of “time blindness” and whether it’s a legitimate challenge or a convenient excuse
- Strategies to avoid feeling overwhelmed
In the words of Anthony Robbins, "Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year — and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!"
Don't miss our podcast episode, where we unravel the secrets to mastering time management. Watch the podcast now!