Dear Sally,

Searching for Time

Did you know….. If you search on Google (UK only) for ‘time management’ you get 41,300,000 hits and all that in only 0.14 seconds. You can find time management training or advice for doctors on how to manage their time during consultations! If you search the web as a whole 742,000,000 hits. Yikes!!

A search on Amazon for books to help with time management reveals 2483 to choose from. Where would you start??? Most people wouldn’t have the patience to scan through the web search results, never mind find the time to read anything AND THEN put it into practice. Oh well, improving how you manage your time will just have to wait until another day.

So where can you find a few hints and tips that may make all the difference to how you manage your time? This issue of Seesaw will take a look at understanding where your time goes and how to plan your time a bit better to make sure you’re in the driving seat.

Oh - and the first hit on Amazon was ‘Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’ but don’t panic – eating frogs won’t be in my list of hints and tips!

Watching the clock

So what stops you having the work/life balance you want? Most people I’ve posed this question to can pin it down to time, or lack of it. If time is the issue, there are two key follow up questions:

Question 1 - Where does your time go?
Question 2 - If you had the time, what would you do with it?

So where does your time go? There are only 24 hours in a day, even at the weekends, and some of that time is taken up with sleeping. If you work on seven hours sleep each day, you are left with 17 hours or 1020 minutes. Loads of time to get things done! If only it was that easy.

Balancing your time starts with answering question 1. Keeping a track, even if just for two days, can give you an idea of where your time goes and the habits you use to manage it. Do you start one thing but not finish it? Do you let things drag on and on? Do you try to do too many things at the same time (and breathe as well!)? Do you get easily distracted with answering an email when it pops up?

I’ve worked with clients who struggle to make sense of where their time goes and it only takes one session to identify a number of different ways of working that have helped them spend less time working (but with productivity still high) and creating more free time, something they didn’t believe was possible when they first started having coaching.

And that leads nicely onto question 2. People are really good at filling their days with ‘stuff’ because they haven’t got anything else that is more appealing to occupy their time. If you’ve not got a better offer, why stop working? Before you know it, your day’s gone, you’ve missed dinner and it’s time for bed.

Rewarding yourself with something you enjoy doing is a great way of making sure you only spend a concentrated amount of time on any given task. The reward can be anything from a nice sit down with a cup of tea and a five minute phone call with a friend, to a trip to the cinema.

What are you putting off?

In many cases, putting stuff off takes up time. How come? If you don’t do it, surely you’ll have more time not less? Well actually, you waste time thinking about doing stuff, making a small start, getting distracted, thinking about it a bit more, trying again, scrunching up the bit of paper and hey presto – there goes an hour.

Spend a few moments noting down the top five things you’re putting off. Take a look at that list and ask yourself if they are things you ‘need’ to do, or things you ‘should’ do. The ‘shoulds’ are the things you’ll never get round to because the motivation and the desire aren’t there. If you need to do something, you’ll find the time. Listen carefully to the language you use when you talk about what’s on your list.

The ‘give it a go bit’

Creating more time for yourself can only be a good thing so below are my top three tips for helping you succeed. Feel free to try them out and adapt them in any way so that they work for you. If you have discovered other things that work well, let me know!

Tip 1 – Just do one thing at once

Keep it simple. You can try too hard to multi task and end up achieving very little, so concentrate on doing one thing at once. If something else crops up, make a note of it and come back to it when you’ve finished. And do finish one thing before you start another – it gives a greater sense of satisfaction!

Tip 2 – Guess

For the jobs you want to get done, estimate how long you think they will take. If the job is too big to estimate, break it down into smaller pieces. People put off doing things because they are daunted by the size, complexity and length of time they think something will take. Smaller tasks always seem more achievable and we can all do 5 minutes on anything!

Tip 3 – Book it in

All too often we try to cram too much into the time available which almost guarantees we don’t complete anything. Now that you have an idea of the time the task will take, book it into your day. However, only allow yourself as much time as you planned. If you said you’d do 5 minutes on your in-tray – only do 5 minutes. There’s something about knowing that there is an end in sight that spurs people on to actually do it. If at the end of your estimated time you need to do additional work, plan that it in too!

As the saying goes ‘Good things happen when planned. Bad things happen on their own’.

Do let me know how you get on.

Until next time


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Your monthly thought to contemplate…

Avoiding the phrase “I don’t have time...”, will soon help you to realize that you do have the time needed for just about anything you choose to accomplish.
Bo Bennett, "Year to Success"

Could you do with more free time? Someone independent and outside of your life can often see ways of saving time that you might not have considered. Contact No Limits Coaching now to receive your free coaching taster session. Let someone help your take a good hard look at where your time goes and provide encouragement to ensure that you’re making your life work for you, all of the time.

Kathryn Proudlock
Tel: (01235) 810938
Mob: 07786 270951

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