Time management is a problem for many of us. We’re always late, or rushing. Or thinking about the next thing that has to be done and not giving our full attention to what’s in front of us. Which, of course, means that we are rarely fully present or fully effective.
It *seems* that if we just get our shit together we’d be able to achieve so much! If we could just push ourselves harder, be stricter…The actual journey to becoming a paragon of organization and effectiveness can be very overwhelming. Many people think that what is required is just more discipline.
I actually don’t think being harder on ourselves is the answer. I’ve become much gentler with myself and others over time. I’ve given up thinking that being mean to ourselves is the way to get to our goals. I think time management is much more sacred than that. I think it means being mindful, it means honoring our actual capacities and being fully present.
I have a few tools that I use with clients to help them achieve a more balanced relationship with rushing. I’m going to talk about them over the next few months, in hopes of giving you some tools that will help you get through the holidays with more grace and ease.
My first tip is to keep a journal of when life feels overbooked. Write down how much time everything actually takes. One of the biggest time bandits is denial. As an example, if the meeting gets over at 11:30, and it takes 15 minutes to get to the next thing, it may seem logical to book the next thing for 11:45. But in reality, one never is out the door the second a meeting is over. There are always follow up comments to be made and hands to be shaken. We might need to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water.
Once we see how long things habitually take, we can begin living in reality. If we find that it almost always takes a quarter of an hour to finish our business and we are committed to giving ourselves breathing room, then we can schedule the next thing for noon.
When we arrive on time for the next thing, having already taken care of the little things, we will have time to land, take a breath, and we will be much more present, balanced, and productive. We might even find that we start allowing extra time instead of just enough, in case there’s heavy traffic.
When I see someone who is consistently overwhelmed and exhausted, often late, and always guilty because they *should* be doing more, I feel compassion. I know from personal experience that’s not a fun place to be. But I also know that there are some gentle, loving means to become more balanced, and have more energy and greater equilibrium. Please let us know if you would like support around this. You don’t have to do it alone.
A version of this essay first appeared on holisticperformancegroup.com