Time management affects every aspect of our lives (professional, emotional, physical, etc.), yet we often overlook its importance until we begin noticing the negative effects of poor time management skills.
Many busy people find themselves constantly running out of time and feeling as though there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. It's easy to fall into a pattern of rushing around, trying to make up for lost hours; it often starts to seem natural and as though there is no way out.
Time management often becomes a blind spot for many professionals who believe their messy schedules and sleepless nights simply cannot be helped – after all, if something has to be done, it has to be done, right? Wrong. With the right time management skills you can lead a more productive professional life, as well as have enough time to take care of your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Most of us don't even realise we're struggling with time management issues before it's too late. You know your work/productivity and emotional/physical health is suffering from your time management issues when you begin experiencing any of these warning signs:
1) Onlookers' Opinions: Often, the people around us are able to see patterns and changes in our behaviour better than we are (especially when we're too caught up with our busy lifestyles). Comments from concerned family members about your health and wellbeing, or observations made by colleagues or friends should not be taken lightly. Take a step back and view your life as an outsider might – you may be surprised at what you discover.
2) Stress Levels: We all know about the negative side effects of stress on our mind and body, but often don't take them seriously enough until we actually experience them – we just need to get all our work done, no matter what. Think about how often you feel stressed, and consider the overwhelming medical evidence to show how stress levels negatively affect us.
3) Mood Changes and Irritability: Feeling increasingly frustrated and overwhelmed can make you sensitive to even the slightest of annoyances. Your emotions taking you hostage in your own body is the first step to self-sabotage – this can hurt your relationships with your family and friends, as well as sever your professional relationships or impair your ability to make well thought out decisions.
4) Constantly Looming Deadlines: Rushing around to get things done may work sometimes, even though the quality of your work may suffer, but eventually, it gets to the point where you're missing deadlines more often, and you're having a difficult time being punctual.
5) The “I'll Do It Tomorrow” Syndrome: Procrastination isn't always a bad thing, but when you find yourself putting things off more and more, you end up with an immense backlog that is often impossible to manage properly!
Once you've recognised you have have a time management problem and have decided to work on it, you can start work on building more sustainable, healthy patterns. For many people, this is not easy.
Here are some insights into why you may not have been successful in developing sustainable time management patterns (based on my own experiences as a productivity coach):
1) Finding the Root of the Problem: People often treat time management as a surface problem and try to adopt generic time management solutions that don't focus on their specific life situations. Exploring your inner self, and developing a deeper understanding of the issues that affect you personally is the key to mastering the art of time management.
2) Cookie-cutter Approaches to Time Management: We all tend to agree that everyone is different/unique, yet when it comes to time management tips and techniques we suddenly decide that “one-size-fits-all” methods could work. Even though they may indeed work in some cases for some time, more often than not, we end up disheartened at our failed attempts. Acquiring the skill set to be able to adjust techniques to your individual needs and to suit your personal lifestyle is crucial.
3) Mindset Matters: As with most things in life, maintaining a positive mindset is extremely important in any kind of time management regiment. Staying positive and accepting the challenges involved is the key to learning and developing healthy time management patterns.
Many of us don't even realise what we're missing out on, in our hectic lives. With the right patterns, you can get all your work done to the standards you would like, and still find the time to take care of your mental and physical wellbeing.
Acknowledging that it doesn't have to be so stressful, and that it is, in fact, possible to create enough time for the things we want to do is crucial to finding time management solutions that work for you. Identify your self-destructive, time management issues while they can still be easily controlled/managed, and do it now, rather than later!
Sometimes, it is not time that is lacking, but simply the right skills to manage it better.