Ever feel like there’s not enough hours in the day? Our to do lists keep getting longer, our priorities, interests and responsibilities keep growing, but we continue to feel overwhelmed, overworked and exhausted.
We weren’t given any time management tips in High School – I mean I can recite Henry the Vlll’s wives in order but yeah managing our time isn’t vital!
Learning how and why to take proactive steps to set the ground work of time management and making planning a priority in your life will lead to you feeling calmer, more in control, productive and fulfilled. .
I can’t give you a time machine, a time freezing pocket watch or a magic 50 pence piece (hello where my 90’s kids at!) But what I can do is give you the tools you weren’t given in school that will help you better manage your time, intentionally command your to do list and calm your overwhelmed mind.
Ever since my teens and those oh so simple school planners, given to us to track assignments & deadlines, I’ve been obsessed with being organised – sometimes to my detriment! (we joke around here that Mr.HIMA used to call me the most unorganised, organised person he knew!)
It has taken me until the end of my 20’s to really hone my time management and planning skills to ensure I’m being as proactive & intentional with my time as possible.
And do you know the biggest secret I learned?
It’s all about mindset.
The Time Management Lie
Does this sound familiar to you?
I don’t have time to do it.
This phrase has come out of my mouth more times than I’d like to mention. For a long time I truly believed that I didn’t have the time to do all the things I wanted to do and needed to do. I was a slave to my to do list.
I’m gonna get real with you – we are all lying to ourselves
Shocker I know, but think about it. really think about it
We all have the same amount of hours in the day, but how we chose to utilise those hours and prioritise our workload is what makes the difference between feeling accomplished and productive or overwhelmed and exhausted.
By changing our mindset from I don’t have time and instead reframing it to This isn’t important to me right now you can take the first tentative steps towards intentional living.
But how exactly do we do this?
Intentional thought and mindfulness is something I advocate practicing in every area of your life.
When you are aware of the thoughts coming and going, you are able to acknowledge and unpack them. By doing this you lean into your personal development and improving your life.
Try and notice when you feel like you don’t have time to do something.
Ask yourself why?
What is more important and taking your focus? Is it a job you hate doing – hello laundry! Do you have fear from attempting something? Are you over estimating how long something will take?
In the past I’ve gone through cycles with my business. I’ll be incredibly productive, organised, on point… and then… something happens which throws me off course. I don’t have time to write that blog post I’d tell myself.
In reality, I did have the time – I effectively do it now, and I definitely haven’t got that magic 50 pence to hand.
I was creating my own obstacles:
It will take too long
I have other jobs to do first
What if I put in all this work, and fail?
The Path to Intentional Time Management
If you’re thinking ‘oh my gosh… that’s ME!’, know that I totally get it.
I have been where you are, feeling overwhelmed, overworked, just scrapping by and landing in bed at the end of the day exhausted but wired. Burnout peaking around the corner.
Which is why I decided to take control of my mindset and my time. I wanted to feel fulfilled, proactive and achieve my goals.
And you can too with my 5 effortless time management tips
Know Your Priorities Right Now
You may have dreams of travelling the world, writing a novel or becoming a body builder but right now they aren’t the top of your list.
Having life goals is amazing and something I always suggest. Knowing what you love and striving to achieve your dreams is what life is all about.
Don’t beat yourself up because you’re 29 this year and haven’t been to more than 3 other countries yet (I will do one day!). Assessing your current priorities helps to enable your intention and understand why you’re putting things off.
Just because you’re not booking that round the world trip today doesn’t mean its not important to you. It’s just not a priority now.
Learning what our core life values are is a huge stepping stone to solidifying our priorities. This post from Ivan Leal Martins is really useful in identify your core values.
My priorities for the next 12 months are:
These are 3 areas of my life that currently have the most impact on my wellbeing and sense of self. Try and pin down your top 3 priorities.
When you really asses your values and priorities in life, you won’t feel guilty for working on them, something I talk about a lot in this post.
Keep a List
Sometimes the obvious things are the most overlooked.
When I started using a dedicated notebook for listing items as they came into my head, everything changed. Suddenly I was less distracted from the task at hand, knowing that I didn’t have to juggle all these other thoughts while focusing on a large task.
Buy a notepad or notebook. Keep it with you or nearby at all times. When something comes to mind – a to do, an item to add to your shopping list, a new business idea or direction – add it to your list.
And yes I 100% recommend paper over a notes app. I love my digital planner and digitised organisation generally, but there are studies that show writing and reading on paper can help increase concentration, retention and understanding.
Regardless of other systems I use, writing thoughts on paper always helps to clear my head!
Use a Planner!
Did you know this one was coming?
Our minds are incredibly powerful things, transforming snippets of data into short term memory then sorting and storing necessary information into long term memory. Its one massive office with a huge backroom of files.
But I don’t know about you, my short term memory is not as effective as it once was! I’m an incredibly forgetful person, worse in the last few years which made more sense when I was diagnosed with an underachieve thyroid.
You know when you walk into the kitchen and can’t remember why you were going in? That’s pretty much every moment of my life.
Having a planner to store, organise and reference information is vital to my sanity and my time management.
I am able to log important items, set my daily schedule and task, keep track of my habits and ensure I’m on top of everything.
There’s something really satisfying about a well organised planner isn’t there?
The world is your oyster too in terms of planner types: physical paper planners, an everywhere digital planner or Bullet journal are just some of your options.
Fail to prepare…
..prepaare to fail. It’s that old proverb and it’s as true now as it ever was.
If you want to take control of your schedule and master your to do list then its time to get gritty.
You might be asking why setting aside time to plan your day, week or month isn’t first on the list.
Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. You could just go straight in trying to piece together the middle and end up frustrated & confused, or you could order the corners and edge pieces to provide a skeleton before filling in the rest.
Setting aside time to order your notebook list and schedule your week will provide clarity & organisation to your thoughts while creating a visual guide to refer back to.
You won’t wake up wondering what you need to do today because you’ll have it right in front of you.
At the end of each day (or the next morning if you prefer – I sometimes feel this works better for me) go over your notebook list.
Order the items via importance or categorise them and add them to your weekly and daily plan. (full detailed post on my personal planning system coming soon).
Intentional Time Management is Within Your Reach
Now you know the truth about The Time Management lie, you can use my tips for intentional time management to empower your days, boost your productivity and calm your mind.
We’re all sick of feeling run off our feet – now’s the time to change it. And you absolutely can! Don’t let self doubt and negative thoughts persuade you otherwise. Time is yours to bend as you will. Just apply some mindful thinking and perspective and soon you’ll be feeling though every day is an accomplishment!
Have an amazing time ]]anagement tip to add? Share your wisdom in the comments!