When flight attendants are debriefing passengers on what to do in the event of an emergency, they always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping another person. View time in a similar way—you can’t really be of service to others if you are over committed, exhausted, and even testy because you don’t manage your time. You need oxygen!
Break It Down
One of the positive things about putting a schedule together is that you become more aware of your choices—and whether we realize it or not, we have a lot of choice in how we move through our day. Some people associate a schedule with rigidity and narrowing their choices. On the contrary! If you are in control of your day, you experience far greater freedoms and satisfaction than constantly operating in reaction mode.
For starters, look at how you manage your time not simply from the point of view of your calendar, but also from the perspective of your energy. Some of us are morning people; others gather steam as they roll into the afternoon. Some of us start the week strong but tire as Friday approaches; others would rather keep a low profile on Monday and finish the week with lots of activity. Be in tune with your energy levels throughout both the day and the week, and pair your appointments and tasks with the appropriate energy level. It makes a big difference!
Lastly, don’t confuse doing 10 things at once with being productive. People who think they’re good multi-taskers are generally kidding themselves. There’s tons of studies about how many decisions and activities the human brain can effectively handle at one time. Unless there’s a S on your chest I don’t know about, try a more mortal approach. Only schedule in one day what you can effectively do in one day.
Next week, I’ll review some actionable steps and examples that you can use to refine your time management practices.