Tabby’s Time Management Tips to Prevent Burnout

Guest post by Tabby Hinderaker, Life Coach, dailyARC Coaching

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At the YNPN Des Moines February discussion group, we talked about challenges we face finding time for ourselves, dealing with uncertainty and change and managing heavy workloads and multiple priorities.  As I reviewed the evaluations after the session, I identified several topics that attendees wanted to hear more about.  Two of the requested topics were time management, and strategies for implementing what we learned to make lasting change. This post will provide one success tip in each of these two areas.

Time management
As we get busier and busier, it seems like the amount of time we have available to us rapidly decreases. Yet, we are each afforded the exact same amount of time each day, week and month.

The question is, how are we using that time?

In her book, Take Time for Your Life, Cheryl Richardson wrote, “Time is a gift that most of us take for granted. We get so caught up in the busyness of our daily lives that we rarely stop and take a serious look at how we’re spending this gift.”

How well are you at “managing” time?  Richardson’s belief is that time management is a myth. In reality, she said, we cannot manage time. We can only manage ourselves. Her term for this is “self-management.”  We can take control of our time and how we use it.  It’s not always easy, but it is possible.Do you know where your time goes each week?

How many hours per week do you spend:
•    Sleeping
•    Working
•    With family
•    With friends
•    Volunteering
•    To yourself
•    In your hobbies or other areas of personal enjoyment
•    Handling recurring daily/weekly tasks such as running errands, cleaning, doing laundry, etc.?

Choose one week over the next month and keep track of where your time goes. Add up the number of hours you spend on your normal activities within that week. When you have tallied your results, reflect on how much time you are spending in each area. Make a list with the category that takes up most of your time at the top, in descending order down to the category that takes the least amount of your time.

Then create a second prioritized list, with the area in which you WANT to spend the most time listed at the top, again in descending order to the category in which you would prefer to spend the least amount of time.

Review your two lists.

Which areas are most important to you?  Where are you spending the most time? Is there congruence between the two lists?  If not, what changes can you make to decrease the time in the least important areas and/or increase the amount of time you spend in the most important areas?

I love this quote from Bruce Lee:  “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”

Do you know what the inessentials are in your life?  Are you ready to let them go?  Choose one small change you can make to decrease the amount of time in a lower priority area.

For example, if you are spending too much time on your work commute and not enough time reading, try listening to books on tape or podcasts while you are driving.  Or if you find that you spend too much time on Facebook and not enough quality time with your family, choose one night a week to disconnect from all technology and reconnect with loved ones.

Strategies for Implementation
As you identify the changes you want to make, start small and commit to something that feels manageable and realistic.  Don’t commit to going technology-free for an entire weekend if you are going to be stressed the whole time about being unplugged for that long.  You’ll be more likely to cave in, grab your smart phone, and then tell yourself you can’t do it so why bother trying again.  Look for those small wins that will build your confidence. Start with an hour or an evening, and as your comfort level increases, build up from there.

It can also be helpful to determine what your starting point is and reflect on where you want to be.  What is the difference between Point A and Point B?  How big is the gap? What do you need to do in order to close the gap and move closer to the desired future state?  What specific actions can you take to move you closer to your goal?

Also consider what resources or support you need to enlist.  If you want to go technology-free for an evening but you are not sure your family will be on board, talk to them in advance. Tell them what you are trying to accomplish and that you want to experiment with something.  Let them know why it’s important to you to turn off the TV and stash the smart phones and tablets for an evening.  Brainstorm together about what you can do instead.

As you make progress toward your goals, celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Acknowledge that you are changing and trying new things.  The more you experiment and stretch outside of your comfort zone, the easier it will become to make additional changes.

Change is hard, but it’s not impossible.  With a little planning and experimentation, you can begin to manage yourself more effectively, create the changes you desire, and design the life you want to live.

Pilot Opportunity for Young Professionals
If you missed the February discussion, check out the opportunity to participate in a pilot group exclusively for young professionals.  In this program, you’ll be empowered to identify and capitalize on your strengths, discover and honor your core values, and use this increased self-knowledge to lead authentically. Details: PILOT Group Participants Wanted

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