Overwhelmed by your never-ending to do list? Feeling like you have not made even a dent? Try a new twist on time management. When you tackle various tasks on your long to do list, can be as important as what it is you are trying to do! I have frequently fallen victim to the idea that I will “just reply quickly to an email” while the kids get dressed but half an hour later, I have been interupted eight times, restarted five times, and I feel angry and resentful, in addition to still having a half written email on my now timed out computer. I am beginning to learn that when I schedule tasks is as important as what they are. I am also a fan of multitasking, trying to bundle tasks together, like the bright idea to run errands with kids in tow on the way to a Dr. appt, as well as stop along the way to run the dog. Mayhem.
Are you picking the most productive time to complete tasks? When are you at your most productive? When does it make the most sense to make important phone calls? Write? Do groceries? Prep for a presentation? In thinking about this way of managing time, I realize that I am often swimming upstream in my obsessive efforts to complete my “things to do today list” at all costs. It requires more flexibility, and willingness to prioritize (let go of less important ones, or put them off until a better time), but is well worth the quality of your time in the moment. And planning ahead can ease your stress as well. When I know that I won’t even try to answer emails or listen to voicemails until I have dropped off my 3 year old at daycare, I do not get frantic due to constant demands for my attention, frequent interuptions, or mini-crisises erupting. I am fully in the moment with her, until I am fully in work mode.
Of course, I am not always this clear, and still catch myself, swimming upstream, against the current, when it would take much less energy to wait until the current was more conducive to the task at hand!
Are you trying to swim upstream? How can you manage your time with an eye to when is it most effiecient to do this task? Do you go to the grocery store at 5:30 right when half the city gets off work and stops at the store to pick up a few things for dinner? Or do you go on your lunch hour, or in the morning when the store is empty and there are no lines? It’s up to you!
Cheers to you and your time!