Does it ever feel like managing everything in your life, your To-Do list, is kind of like tapping your head with one hand and rubbing your stomach with the other at the same time?!
Do you find yourself looking at your task list at the end of the day, realizing that it has grown instead of shrunk, and say to yourself “Man, I need some better time management!”?
Here are some symptoms of when your mind / body / spirit are in a state of overwhelm:
- You find yourself staring at the computer reading the same sentence or paragraph over and over because you didn’t comprehend it the first time.
- You can’t seem to do the one thing you most really needed to do today.
- The same uncompleted tasks roll from one day to the next.
All of this can leave you feeling discouraged, doubting your ability to manage your time, completely overwhelmed, oh, and the guilt, don’t even get me started on that one!
I was in a session with a client yesterday and she was telling me how she had been at a retreat all last week and how at the end of the week she thought to herself “I’m just going to take the whole week off next week.” That thought was immediately followed by, “I can’t take next week off! I’ve been off all week this week and I have too much work to do!”
Ever been there? I know I have!
Now, perhaps you could use some tools to better manage your time. Here are some steps you can take to better discern for yourself:
- If you are in a state of overwhelm, the best thing you can do first is to get moving! Sluggishness, fogginess, and feeling unmotivated are all symptoms of stuck energy. Movement will move you more into a state of motivation and inspiration. Simple things like taking a walk, doing some yoga, standing up from your desk and doing some stretches, turning on some music and allowing yourself to dance to one song – anything that moves you and gets the blood and oxygen and the energy moving through your body.
- Still feeling sluggish? Maybe you just need a quick cat nap! Give yourself permission to take a short rest. Set the alarm for 10, to no more than 20 minutes, and lie down and shut your eyes.
- Stop and take a timeout. Trust me, you’ll be a lot more productive, clear headed, and energized as a result. It doesn’t have to be a long break, perhaps it’s just taking the afternoon or an hour or two to go for a walk, go to the beach and get your toes in the sand or whatever it is that feeds and nurtures your soul.
Whenever I’m experiencing a momentary lack of motivation, any of the above is usually enough to shift me out of that state into a higher level of energy.
Now that you’ve regrouped, it’s time for the second phase of self-analysis:
- Now, write down three things, three outcomes that you’d like to have at the end of the week.
- Next, take a look at your task list. Do an honest review of what’s on there. Look at each item and ask yourself “Is this something that I want to do? Something I feel I should do? Or, something someone else wants me to do?”
- Now, how does each task on your list support the three outcomes you wanted for the week? Cross off any items that no longer fit or move them down on your priority list.
- Divide the tasks that are left into categories of kinds of actions such as phone calls you need to make, things you need to look up, research that you need to do, emails that need to be written or errands you need to run, etc.
One of the most life-changing books I read on time management is one called Getting Things Done by David Allen.
His approach changed my life as it helped to dissolve the guilt I had on a regular basis over what I felt was a lack of time management on my part because my To-Do list never seemed to shrink. One of the things he points out is how different kinds of tasks take a different kind of energy, and that by grouping like tasks together on the page you can better use the energy you have in the moment to get things done.
As I expressed to my client yesterday, you have a natural energy flow that is unique to you. There are certain times of the day when you most likely have more energy than others. Be conscious of that and use those peak times to tackle the things that take more energy. For example, use your peak times to make sales or client phone calls or to do mind-intensive tasks. Use your lower energy times of day to catch up on emails, organize, go through your mail, write bills, or any other tasks that take less energy but still need to get done. Capitalize on those peak energy times. Use your natural flow to your benefit!
If you feel like you’re already doing the above, and you’re still having issues with time management, then it’s time to ask yourself these questions:
- Is there anything on my list that would be better done by someone else that I can delegate?
- Are there things on my list that are not in alignment with what I really want to create for myself?
- How do these tasks on my list fit in with the values I have set for myself?
These questions are a good starting point to uncovering any underlying resistance to getting things done.
What are your thoughts? What do you do when you’re having a hard time getting things done? I’d love to hear from you! Please post and share your comments below!