In today’s episode is all about busting some myths – 5 common time management myths to be exact. I’ll be honest – there were times in my life that I believed each of the lies about what it takes to manage your time well, be productive and live your best life. But – research, experimentation, trial and error and hours of coaching time management clients have shown me the truth – and I can’t wait for the truth to set you free.
So today, I’m dispelling 5 common time management myths
From what it means to be productive
To the pitfalls of the perfect morning, the perfect planner and the perfect system
Plus – I’ll explain why all hours are NOT created equally despite sharing the same 60 minutes
And finally – I’ll reveal the single most important thing you should have to master time management, design a schedule and build a life you truly love.
True or False. Fact or Fiction. Myth or Reality.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe these days. Whether someone is screaming Fake News at us, or using shifty statistics to tell a story that isn’t the whole story… we’re stuck sorting out the fact from the fiction on a far too regular basis.
That’s why I’m tackling 5 super common time management myths for you right here, right now – so you don’t have to wonder or worry about them any longer. I’ve got you, so let’s do this.
Myth #1 – In order to be good at time management, every minute of your day must be used productively.
As much as I LOVE being productive and crossing things off of a to-do list, this is just not the case. What stinks, is that, far too often, at the end of a long day, so many of us look back at the past 12 to 14 hours and label it a failure. Why? Because we didn’t do everything we wanted to do. Because we wasted some time. Because we didn’t finish everything on our to-do list, and because we weren’t productive with every single minute.
First of all, I’m here to tell you to cut yourself some slack, and give yourself some grace – because not only is it impossible to be productive with every single second of your day, it’s just not necessary.
Second of all, I invite you to answer this question, “What does productivity mean to you?” because your answer to this question has the potential to change everything – most importantly your mindset as you approach how you spend your hours and minutes of the day.
You see – when you look at the actual, academic definition of productivity – you get something along the lines of “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate or output per unit of input.”
And while that may be an official definition of productivity, or productivity in the workplace, the rate of output per unit of input – it sounds more applicable to a machine in a factory than an actual living, breathing person.
So – I encourage you to choose your own adventure, and decide what productivity means to you.
For me – being productive means using my time in the best way possible in any given moment, based on my energy, my ability to focus and my priorities.
In fact – even after I’ve decided my schedule for the day, I’ll assess my energy and my ability to focus before moving forward with my next task to make sure my energy and focus can match up with the importance or complexity of the task at hand.
For example, if the next thing on my list is to write a podcast episode, but I’m having trouble focusing because 5 of my neighbors are doing yardwork, I might swap out podcast writing – which requires focus for me – and do something that doesn’t require quite as much focus – like engaging on social media, or researching potential future podcast guests.
And sometimes – if my energy is low, and my ability to focus is low – the most productive thing I can do in that moment is rest. And that goes for you, too. Sometimes if your energy is low, and your ability to focus is low – the most productive thing you can do is rest. Now – maybe you can’t drop everything and take a nap, but maybe you can go for a walk, just step away from a project logjam and clear your head. Stare into space for a bit, seriously.
Research has shown that idle time during the work day – and I don’t mean idle time spent scrolling social media – but idle time such as taking a walk, can actually help you accomplish MORE. “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.” as stated in an article from Scientific American.
So – science even says that sometimes, doing nothing at all can be the most productive thing you can do. So how can you be intentional about this productive downtime? Try scheduling quick 5 minute breaks throughout your day to take a quick walk or step outside. Go grab a snack – aim for something with healthy fats or proteins to prevent a sugar crash. If you’re stuck in one spot and walks or midday snacks are out of the question – let your stare into space for a bit. And if you can swing it… take a power nap.
Myth #2: Every minute of your day must be perfectly scheduled.
Sure – Some days will call for a tightly executed itinerary. Maybe you’re catching a flight and heading to a conference or a series of meetings and every minute counts. But for most of us – most days don’t look like that and we have some flexibility in our schedules.
One of the biggest time management pitfalls I encounter with my clients is pitfall of taking timeblocking too far.
Time blocking is the practice of adding blocks – or appointments with yourself – to your calendar that represent the work you will complete during that period of time. Time blocking is a fantastic strategy because it helps combat Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available, so if you add a 1 hour block to your calendar to work on your TPS report, you will very often finish that TPS report in that hour because you’ve created a boundary for yourself.
The problem with taking time blocking too far is when The Planning Fallacy kicks in. The planning fallacy describes the fact that we often underestimate how long something is going to take us.
So when you design a schedule full of underestimated – and therefore unrealistic time blocks – and you leave zero white space… whenever that first time block accidentally overflows into the second, and the second overflows into the third until the 4th is basically non-existent… well you’ve set yourself up for failure.
And that’s why leaving some white space in your day – think of it as expecting the unexpected – is a much better strategy than a minute by minute plan for your work day.
The same goes for perfectly orchestrated morning routines – which rarely go perfectly – especially if you have the unpredictability of kids or pets in the mix. Years ago – I created something I called My Perfect Morning. It was my perfect vision for a morning routine – it included working out, taking penelope for a walk, journaling, reading my bible, eating a well balanced breakfast and getting out of the door in plenty of time to stop for a coffee on the way to work. The problem was – it wasn’t realistic at all. I think i would have had to wake up at 4:30 in order to fit in everything that I’d dreamed up. And 4:30 definitely isn’t a realistic wake up time for me.
So – as you can see – by my example – going overboard whether it’s creating a work day with no white space, or a perfect morning, thats actually perfectly impossible – every minute of your day does NOT have to be perfectly scheduled.
Myth #3: The perfect planner will solve all of your problems.
Oh – the search for the perfect planner. The perfect app, system or digital calendar. I really hate to break it to you – but the perfect… any of those things – probably does not exist.
And there are so many different options – with more planners and apps hitting the market each day – that you could you literally never stop searching, trying and spending a LOT of money in the quest for that perfect tool.
Instead of continuing your journey on the never ending quest for the perfect planner, my advice is to pick something pretty good, and commit to making it work. Because – when you’ve committed to using it, and committed to making it work – you’ll problem solve and find a way.
You’ve heard me mention Trello 50 bajillion times by now, but you know what? Trello isn’t perfect. There are things about it that annoy me. And there have been times that I’ve wanted to peek across the fence and test drive a new system like Asana or Monday.com or ToDoist or something else. But I’ve committed to making Trello work, and 95% of it is a perfect fit for me. Maybe one day I’ll switch to something else, but for now – I’ve committed to Trello.
The most important thing that you can do is pick something, commit, and be consistent.
The best planner, app, system – whatever for you is the one you’ll actually use.
Myth #4: All hours are created equally.
Yes. Technically, every hour in the day has 60 minutes. Or 3600 seconds if you really want to get granular about it. But when it comes to work, productivity and most importantly – your energy level, not all hours in the day are created equal.
Anyone who has nodded off on a post-lunch conference call, or made a 2pm Starbucks run for a jolt of caffeine knows exactly what I’m talking about. We all experience different energy peaks and valleys throughout the day depending on our biological chronotypes. We’re not machines, or robots – we’re humans. And we just can’t power through 8-12 hours of work creating truly consistent results for all 8 to 12 of those hours.
Some hours are just going to be more productive than others because we’re bringing more of our natural energy to those hours.
That’s why it’s so important to know when your personal energy peaks and valleys are throughout the day.
Knowing your peak energy windows enables you to schedule your most important work during that time, maximizing your results, and knowing your energy valleys helps you be strategic about taking breaks, or the type of work to reserve for that low-energy time. Brainstorming, easy administrative work, going for a walk (or taking a nap if you can) can all be great ways to use your energy valley well.
Myth #5 – Good time management starts with how you’re spending your time.
Nope. Not even close. And here’s why.
If how you’re spending your time right now – the stuff taking up space on your calendar – maybe a job you don’t really like, or clients you don’t love serving, obligations you felt guilted or pressured into, or friendships you’ve outgrown – if the stuff on your calendar doesn’t reflect what you actually value… then you’re just moving pointless junk around.
When you start by seeking clarity and getting crystal clear about what matters most to you – your core values, your personal mission, your calling, your vision for the future, your goals and your dreams… when you get clear on those things – only then can you truly begin building a life and designing a schedule that’s a reflection of the clarity you have. When you get clear about what matters most to you, you can decide where you want to go, how you want to get there, and how you’ll spend your time. That, my friend is what time management is all about. It starts with you heart and giving yourself the space and permission to get the clarity you need to make confident, intentional choices about how to spend your time.
One of my current time management coaching clients shared with me recently that for the first time – after working together she has clarity.
This is how she explains it:
Clarity means a few different things. Having clarity gives me confidence to accomplish a goal before me. Clarity means freedom from being confused in life. Having clarity is giving myself the green light to pursue my dreams confidently. It’s a weight lifted off my chest – mentally, but also physically.
Do you want that kind of clarity?
Are you ready to move forward and start designing a life of intention, confidence and freedom from confusion? Are you ready to leave behind the chaos of unclear priorities, overwhelming to-do lists and a planner full of stuff that just doesn’t reflect what you truly value? Are you ready to find your own clarity?
If you’re nodding your head and thinking, oh yes – this is exactly what I need, then you are invited to join me in Chaos to Clarity LIVE, a totally free, limited time and one-of-a-kind group coaching experience featuring live workshops, mini-trainings, and Q&A sessions jam packed with actionable tips and strategies for making your minutes count. This two-week group coaching experience kicked off on Wednesday, June 1st and will close on Wednesday, June 15th. All good things must come to an end, so be sure to join us and jump in before it closes on Wednesday, June 15th.
You can grab your spot in the group and get access to the private group coaching community by closing out of this podcast and going straight to annadkornick.com/live. Enter your name and email address and everything you need to dive in will be sent straight to your inbox.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a part of a group coaching program, to be a part of a community of people learning together, supporting one another and working toward the same goal, this is your chance to find out for free. I would love the opportunity to coach you in the group before it closes for good Wednesday June 15th.
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