When people hear “time management,” they think about having too much to do, and not enough time to do it. And they certainly don’t think of it as a way to take care of themselves.
But with the disruption a pandemic brings to our lives, effective time management is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves and for others.
We are hearing every day about working-from-home parents who are juggling their day jobs and an entirely new role: Home-schooling teacher. Then there are parents in front-line jobs who cannot work from home and must find some way to care for their kids while day care centers and schools are closed.
Good time management may not improve your teaching skills or find a child-minder for you, but it will help you take better care of yourself, physically, emotionally and mentally. Here’s how to do that.
Nurturing yourself through time management
1. Focus on what’s important and let go of the rest. Seriously examine everything you do and ask yourself: Do I really need to do this or can I fall back (even temporarily) on a less-taxing, schedule-friendly alternative? If your immediate reaction is “I’ve always done it this way,” it’s time for some creative thinking. Changing it up might save your sanity — and add some precious minutes into your day.
2. Turn it over to someone else. If your finances allow, consider ordering your groceries online and having them delivered. You can do the same with prepared food. Remember, it’s not always about money and it’s not forever. Can you put a dollar amount on spending quality time with your kids, taking an energizing walk or relaxing in a hot tub?
3. Repeat after me: Only snowflakes are perfect. And you know how long they last. You will never be the perfect parent, spouse, pet owner, employee or neighbor. “Good enough” is usually good enough.
4. Focus on the ROI(OT). Look at task you’re doing, from cleaning your house to being the CEO of the company and ask: What am I getting for the investment of my time? Is it worth it? How can I be more efficient, more effective?
5. It’s not about the list. Yes, you need a prioritized task list that focuses on what must be done. But doing things is not the same thing as getting things done.
6. Where do you want to be? What’s your ultimate goal? Where do you want to end up? Plan backward from there.
7. Take care of the important and urgent will take care of itself. You won’t have as many urgent problems when you first handle important issues. It’s when important issues get put off that they turn into emergencies. And when something unexpected blows up on you, you’ve got the time and energy to deal with them.
8. Don’t multitask. Multitasking is inefficient. You NEVER pick up exactly where you left off when you bounce from task to task. Experts say you’ll waste about 23 minutes getting back into the flow after an interruption. After every interruption. The even worse news: Multitasking on average drops your IQ by 15 points (if you’re a man) — or back to the same level as an 8-year-old child.
9. Create “inside time.” Set a specific period of time when you will not answer phones, check email, look at personal social media, aimlessly browse the web or indulge in idle chitchat. If you need to, print and post a sign that says, “Do not disturb between the hours of X and Y.”
10. Schedule self-care and fun into your life. Being efficient and productive is the path, not the goal. The goal is to give you the time and space to have a life that’s worth living. This is why time management is important, especially now.
Stay well and be good to yourself.
P.S. If you any time management tips that work especially well for you, please add in the comments. I’m always up for learning new stuff.