I’m trying to get a grip on my schedule. So I did what any overwhelmed, process-oriented, analytical overachiever does. I googled “Time Management Strategies.” I found HUNDREDS of articles, white papers, and lists on time management. Seriously – who has time to write, read, or remember all of that information?
After wasting 15 minutes, I realized that – as usual – all of the answers we need and solutions we seek actually reside right inside of ourselves. I took a deep breath and a long sip of my herbal tea, and I came up with a simple list of really easy strategies.
1: Get offline. Stop obsessing over Facebook. Stop poring over the inspirational quotes, the cute pictures, the status updates that you should like, the events that strangers invited you to, the updates on Occupy Wall Street. Do any of these things push your agenda forward?
2: Use your email auto-responder. This is a great tool. Activate an auto-responder that says something like this: “Thanks for your email. I’m offline until 4:00. I will return messages at that time. Have a great day.” And then don’t check email until 4:00.
3: Schedule smart. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out. I now schedule all of my face-to-face meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays back-to-back. I find time between meetings is usually “wasted space.” By compressing meetings back-to-back on designated days, you make more of your time. Figure out how many days you need for face-to-face, and how many you need for desk time.
4. Stay out of people’s drama. Know what drama you should “own” and what drama is not yours. Son or daughter having an issue at school? Definitely your drama. Co-worker having marital issues or a mid-life crisis? Definitely not your drama. Drama sucks your time and energy and derails you from achieving your goals.
5. Establish boundaries and say NO. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”? That’s because overly busy people can’t say no. It’s not a badge of honor to be overly busy and to say yes to everything and to be everywhere with everyone all of the time. It makes for a stressful, frazzled life, and causes you to lose sight of what’s truly important.
Say “no” to committees, groups, coffees, lunches, dinners, happy hours, Chair positions, and anything else that strokes your ego by putting you in the spotlight at the expense of your sanity. Sanity trumps ubiquity any day.
Saying “No” applies to people too. Facebook has completely marginalized the concept of “friend.” Focus on the core people in your inner circle – for both giving and taking. Support those your cherish. Seek comfort from those that cherish you. It’s a very simple formula.
Simple Strategies for Complex Times
Are five strategies too many? Do the first three. Take back your time. Strive for “productive” rather than “busy.” And remember… sanity trumps ubiquity.
Have other strategies? Share with us!