Chasing Sanity: Simplify Your Life Through an Easy Time Management System
There are only very few things in life we can’t control and time is one of them. Where does the day go? How about the month, the year, or half a lifetime? Time seems to speed up every year.
I used to take time for granted. In my youth, I thought nothing of time. I had the arrogance and ignorance to waste it. Time had its’ revenge on me for that later by doubling down in speed, so those entire years disappeared, and I felt like I was constantly racing behind, trying desperately to slow down the clock.
While I still haven't figured out how to time travel, over the years of being a busy entrepreneur and a mom, I have worked out a few tricks to better master my time and increase my productivity. Let me share a few today with you.
I divide the issues of time management into two parts: Mindset and Systems
Are you surprised that your mindset may be at the root of the problem? Before we discuss systems, let’s get honest about how you are boycotting you. If you don’t fix these first, no time management system will save you.
1/ Become a Minimalist
Most of us have too much stuff. Get rid of a lot of it. Stop buying so many new things. I love the Marie Kondo method and book of asking yourself if your possessions bring you joy and if not, getting rid of them.
2/ Stop People-Pleasing or Feeling Guilty
Yes, I’m talking to you! You think you are superhuman and must over-deliver in all areas: as a worker, a student, a friend, a lover, or a parent. You don’t have to “do it all”. You actually will become worse in all those areas by overdoing it, not to mention boycotting your career. Find balance and create healthy boundaries with people, especially avoid those who exploit you.
3/ Become a Yes or No Person
Life is too short to be a “maybe” person. Say ‘no’ to twice as much as you say ‘yes’ to. Our day is limited and we can’t do it all. We also shouldn’t stuff our day full. We need white space to think, to sit, to be bored, and to simply be. One tip to make better decisions is this: every time there is a decision to make, ask yourself “Will this activity bring me closer or further away from my goals?”. And if you don’t have life goals, that is another problem that is much more serious than time management decisions.
4/ Outsource Anything You Don’t Like to Do
I follow the 3 D’s system for all areas of my life: -Ditch -Delegate -Do. Every activity gets sorted through this system. My ‘do’ list is very small compared to the other two. When you see things this way, it is much easier to figure out what you need to do but can hire someone to do it for you. A few books that will help you are: The One Thing, Essentialism, and The 4-Hour Workweek.
5/ Stop Seeing Busy = Successful
This way of thinking always surprises me because I can’t understand how anyone could believe personally being busy is a good thing. More work? Hire more people. Too much going on in your private life? Look what you can ditch or outsource. We will have short periods of busyness but long-term, it if not good and actually harms your productivity. Don’t believe me? Just look at how successful people, who are indeed the busiest people in the world, carve out a lot of personal time for themselves. You don’t have to be a billionaire to schedule your life like one.
My day would be chaos without my systems. Systems, like habits and routines, are the cornerstone of your life. Overthinking is the enemy of success. Thanks to my systems, I always know what I am supposed to be doing so it is so easy to take action! Here are a few tips I have about implementing systems that will drastically improve your productivity.
1/ Time Block, No Switch Tasking
I don’t remember when I heard about it for the first time but I feel like I have been time-blocking forever. Time blocking works for me because it is so easy: Just set specific days or hours aside for specific work. Examples: I record three podcast episodes the first Monday of every month, edit them on Wednesdays, do the graphic art on Thursdays, and publish one episode every Friday.
2/ Keep a Time Journal
Be honest: do you waste a lot of time every day? Are the tasks you do ALL important and why? Do you book time for yourself and your loved ones? Figure out what you do all day by writing it down for 3 full days. Then you can assess on your own or with your coach to look if and how to improve. You can use an app if it is easier like Toggl.
3/ Use a Pomodoro Timer
This method will train you to work in shorter crunch periods with breaks in between. Having self-imposed deadlines has strongly helped me as a former procrastinator/ easily distracted individual. There are many applications to help you, such as Beeminder and Focus Keeper.
4/ Say ‘No’ to All-Day Email, Chats, and Meetings
I talk about this one all the time. I have gone to great lengths to protect myself, especially from these three time sucks.
A. EMAIL MANAGEMENT
Checking your email too often is a productivity killer and distraction. I have a few tips to deal with emails:
Do you know someone who is constantly on chats, either on their phone or computer? No wonder they don’t get much done! Chats can be hard to stop. Once this habit develops, your productivity will drastically decrease. Use Technology the right way but don’t let it consume you.
C. MEETING MANAGEMENT
Some companies torture their employees with endless (and often pointless) meetings.
How to Make Meetings Great Again
Have you ever been stuck in the most boring meeting of your life? Does your work culture seem to love meetings with no…
5/ Wear Noise-Canceling Headphones and Listen to Music
I have worked in an open floor-plan office, in coffee shops, at bust conferences, on airplanes, and at home with kids running around. My headphones are truly a blessing. Listening to music may also help you concentrate better.
Your time is so precious yet it feels like life is out against you to steal it, waste it, and fly away from you. You must fight it with everything you’ve got. After all, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could win back a full day per week or one hour extra every day? If you liked these tips, you may also enjoy my Time Management Workshop (26- Page Workbook and 2-Hour Video Included).