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3-Must-Have Things You Need to Manage Your Time

When I talk about what I do, and how I coach people and why it is that I talk about "the work plus the woo", it's because 100% of the people that I work with, no... scratch that - 100% of the entrepreneurs that I know want to focus on leveling up their energy, want to develop a meditation practice want to and corporate so much into their personal and spiritual growth, but they struggle with finding the time because it's just overwhelming running their business. 

But I've learned, that it isn't that the things that are needed in their business are overwhelming per se, it's that they lack the skills needed to managing some pieces of the foundational part of their business in some way.

And this isn't spoken with judgment. 

This is an objective observation of something that I see all the time period it's really common. Because most of the time, we get into business as entrepreneurs because we have a passion for creating or selling or coaching or teaching, but we don't necessarily have the technological training or the business and strategy background to be able to organize all of the things. And it's holding them back from leveling up in their success in business, but more importantly, and more important to me, is that it's causing stress.

 When you are running your own business, and you are the CEO, and you're not yet at the point where you can hire a team, you have to figure out how to make it all fit, how to make it all work, and how to do all the things that it takes to run a business.

 And as I talk about so often on this show, and in my community, the skills you need to do those foundational things in your business successfully, these core capabilities, all fall under the executive functioning umbrella.

They include things like:

  • self-restraint,
  • working memory,
  • emotion control,
  • focus,
  • task initiation,
  • planning/prioritization,
  • organization,
  • time management,
  • defining and achieving goals,
  • flexibility,
  • and stress tolerance.

And these are skills, not personality traits. 

I'll say that again for the people in the back... these are skills, not personality traits.

And that means that they can be taught. So if you struggle in one of these areas, there is reason to hope, and there are solutions available to you, it's really just a matter of reaching out and going on a discovery expedition to see what works for you. 

In this post, I want to focus on time management strategies. 

And before I forget, I am going to be teaching a class on stress free time management in the near future, click here to get on the waiting list for that class.

(I will be traveling for the month of September, so this class will be held in October.)

OK, so back to time management strategies.

If you do any searching online for how to manage your time, you're going to find more solutions than you could possibly consume in a lifetime. And I am definitely of the mind that you should explore and try all the different things because you don't know what works for you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and it is vital that you continue to test until you find the things that work for you. And then once you find out what works for you, stop looking. And get to work

I'm in a creativity group and we are doing a workshop of this book called Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life by Marnie K Makridakis

It's been really interesting, because the the book guides us through all the different ways that we have relationship with time, that we don't really think about. And how impactful that is in the way that we get through the day, in the way that we talk to ourselves, and the way we think about our life...

And so I wanted to find a way to share some time management strategies that are not prescriptive but could perhaps be foundational, in that, should you begin to follow these things you might then find a path that you can tailor to your own needs through that exploration.

And the first thing that I would like you to think about is this question: 

What is your relationship with time? 

Do you consistently run late? When you prep for things, do you always need a few last minute minutes to be truly ready?

When you're working on something do you lose track of time, does time fly, or do you consistently find yourself running out of time to do the work allotted for a certain time frame?

Do you have a good grip on measuring how much time things are going to take? One of the biggest things that comes up when we talk about goal setting, is identifying how much time you actually have to do a thing, and then how much time you think something's going to take to do. The eye-opening experience is discovering whether those two things actually fit together.

We all have patterns here, and taking the time Maybe a few days or a week, to identify your patterns will give you a roadmap to move ahead. 

Oftentimes, when we run into trouble with managing time, it can be because we also struggle with prioritizing our tasks. And this is one of those things that I really struggled with when I was younger, and when I get stressed, it's still the one place where I slip.

And for me that looks like everything is a priority. So for example, I'll be working on something project A and because I'm feeling stressed for whatever reason, I will start feeling distracted, and I will check e-mail for example or a text, and then as soon as something comes in where somebody needs something from me I will drop whatever it is I'm doing, i will stop working on my project, and i will take care of whatever it is that I can do " real quick " and I know in the moment that this is a symptom, because I've identified that pattern for myself. But it is something that comes up often.

So my next question is: 

What is your relationship with prioritizing?

I think the ability to prioritize things is an underrated skill that is actually vital. Because if you're not able to prioritize the way you spend your time, then you can't actually make reliable plans.

There are lots of tools that you can use for prioritizing, but one of the easiest to learn is the Covey Quadrants, created By Stephen Covey. The Covey Quadrants are a lot like the Eisenhower Matrix, which i will diagram for you below, but the Eisenhower matrix focuses on the urgency of tasks where the covey quadrants focus on time.

Basically, what you do is you have 4 quadrants

1)  Urgent and Important.

2) Not Urgent and Important

3) Urgent and Not Important

4) Not Urgent and Not Important

Image of Covey Quadrant by: Corinne O'Flynn

What you do is you identify all the things that need doing, and you drop them into one of these four boxes based on their urgency and their importance.

It sounds really simple, because it is. 

But it also really illuminating. And I share this because the Covey Quadrants can be a starting point for figuring out where to go from here.

I think that quite often we get into this analysis paralysis because there's just so many different tools out there to try and this one is really simple it's very very basic but it's also very clarifying and I think that if you're feeling stuck this can be an easy go to which brings me to my next question, which is: 

How do you keep track of it all?

This is an area that can trip a lot of us up too. Because this is the tools and the apps and the schedulers and the calendars and all the different things that we need to stay on track, to stay focused, to prioritize, and just stay on time.

One thing that a lot of coaches share is their toolkit. "Here's the list of things that I use to get through the day with all my tools." And those things can be really helpful if you're struggling. But we have to be careful here because of the shiny objects syndrome.

It is really easy to see what someone else is doing and be so enamored of their process because it's working for them, that we assume that it'll work for us, and so we're jumping from thing to thing to thing with that ever really determining whether it's working for us. 

When it comes right down to it you need 1) a place to keep track of your appointments and 2) you need a place to keep track of your tasks. For me, I use the Full Focus planner which is a paper planner, and Google Calendar. Those two things keep me going, they're very very simple, and I don't have 400 different pieces to keep track of. 

And that's it, I think that we tend to overcomplicate, especially in areas where we're struggling and I think that if we just give ourselves permission to make it easy, we can demystify a lot of the things that we struggle with.

And again, we all work differently, our brains work differently, our skill sets came from different places, our comfort level with technology, versus working on paper, we are all unique individual people so it's really important to keep track of what you're doing, try things on, stick with what works, jettison the things that don't work, and give yourself permission to stop looking once you find something that feels like it works for you.

That said, the things I have shared here are universally important to finding your way. You need to 1) understand your relationship with time, 2) learn how to prioritize your time, and you need to 3) find a way to keep track of everything in a way that's effective for you. 

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