You’ve tried every calendar, planner, and productivity app out there… So why do you still struggle with time management?
Here’s the truth: your calendar is the least important part of your time management strategy. And here’s a time management secret: turning to your calendar as a first step in planning your time could actually be sabotaging your productivity.
Getting Crystal Clear on Your Vision
One of the biggest misconceptions about time management is that it starts with your calendar. When people ask me for advice, they usually expect our first step together to be rearranging things on their schedule.
But most of the time, when people think they have a time management problem, that’s not the case. They actually have a purpose problem.
Meaning, rather than living their core values, they’re just operating day-to-day without purpose and intention. That’s where we begin. We begin to answer the questions:
What’s your purpose?
What’s your vision for the future?
What are your core values that represent who you are and what matters most to you?
So when you just can’t make yourself do something you planned – like waking up at 5 AM, for example – it could very well be because it’s not supporting your purpose and your core values. If you don’t have a compelling reason to get out of bed at 5 AM, it’s not going to happen!
Self-Awareness for Better Time Management
Once you are crystal clear on your vision and core values, that’s when you start looking at how you’re spending your time right now. Then, you get to know yourself better – because when you have self-awareness, you’re able to skip over the strategies that you know won’t work for you – and go straight to the ones that will.
Regardless of whether my clients have a clear vision, I have all of them take the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. You can use Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, or whichever one you’d like – I even designed a time management personality assessment just for you!
Time Management Secret: Priorities
Once you get clear on your vision and purpose, you can start to narrow down what things are most important – in other words, your priorities. To illustrate, I think about priorities as boulders, big rocks, and pebbles.
A boulder is a huge, immovable rock. These are the activities in our life that are important… but they’re not urgent. They help us show up as our best selves. Things like working out, having a regular date night with your partner, and investing in your professional development are all examples of boulder priorities.
These need to be scheduled in your calendar before anything else – and don’t move them once you’ve scheduled them.
These are the things in our days that are important and urgent. Big rocks move the needle in our life and our work. They get us closer to our vision for ourselves. Things like recording a podcast that markets your business, planning a big vacation for your family, and renovating your bathroom are all considered big rock priorities.
After scheduling boulders, then schedule your big rocks.
Pebbles are things in our life that are not urgent, and not important – as in, they’re not moving the needle in our lives. Examples include making a dentist appointment, ordering something from Amazon, or making a grocery order. They’re necessary parts of life, but they’re not tied to a bigger goal or project. Pebbles are small – but because they’re easy and there are so many of them, they can easily take over our lives.
It’s tempting to schedule your pebbles first – because the tasks are easy and your brain is rewarded every time you complete a small task! But then you realize you never did the most important thing you were supposed to do… and you wonder where the day went.
Schedule your pebbles last in your day.
So when creating your to-do list, list everything you want to do out and try writing P, B, and R next to each task. Then, schedule things in your day in order of first boulders, then rocks, and last, pebbles. Doing this diligently and consistently will pay off long-term!
Want more? Listen to the full episode here.