Lots of people tell me they have a problem with time management. My simplest response is, “Have a look at this article on planning your day and let me know how you get on.” Fabulous!
One of my clients doesn’t like to schedule anything in advance. Meeting, project proposal, day out, dinner with friends—whatever the activity, she chooses to miraculously pull things together at the very last minute. She admits that pushing things right up to a deadline is incredibly stressful, but says she’d always choose that over a structured, set plan.
I also have a client who’s exactly the opposite. He drives his wife and colleagues mad, because almost every minute of every day is assigned to a specific task or activity.
Which of these approaches is most successful? Both and neither. Doggedly sticking to a plan day after day (after day…) can just get dull. It can feel like the fun has been sucked out of life—and it leaves no room for possibility. Having no plan at all can be utterly hair-raising as we skid between various crises, not knowing whether or not we’re achieving anything.
Each time management approach has its advantages, but each also points to a lack of trust. Perhaps those of us who eschew planning are scared of missing out, frightened of things going wrong and don’t trust ourselves to choose the right commitment. Perhaps those of us who plan religiously don’t trust ourselves (or other people) to flow in the moment.
When we trust ourselves (to be resourceful, responsive, creative) we don’t need either of these extremes. When we trust our colleagues, our teams, our friends and family (to be supportive, responsible, resourceful, creative) these polar opposites aren’t necessary. When we let go just a little and trust the universe, we can dance in the moment and enjoy witnessing things unfold.
The middle way allows us to achieve success in a way that is flexible and sustainable.
- Each week, prepare an outline time management plan, but don’t cling to it so tightly that your knuckles go white. Hold it lightly.
- Have a clear impression in your mind of what great outcomes might be like. Then ease up the control of how those outcomes are achieved.
- Allow some room in your schedule for strategic thinking, creativity and spontaneity.
- Commit to some things in advance.
- Trust yourself (and the universe) that it’ll work out ok.
- Notice how many more opportunities arise when you adopt this approach. Notice if things actually work out better.
Please let me know how you get on.