You’re feeling frazzled, overwhelmed. Your house is never clean. You never feel like you have time to rest or that you never get time for yourself. You’re working all day, but when 5 o’clock rolls around you can’t really figure out where your time went or what you have to show for it. Then, you’re constantly moving from meeting to meeting, your days are filled with other people’s priorities, and your own project are going cold on the back burner. You’re feeling like you’ll never catch up, like there’s never enough time, and that you’re never going to figure this out.
Did your heart rate just pick up? Did I hit the nail on the head, my friend?
I know exactly how you feel. A few years ago, I got so burned out that I quit my job and laid on the sofa for three days without moving. But I also know how it feels to step into each week feeling calm and prepared. I know how it feels to know exactly what I need to tackle each day to reach my goals. Emergency? Obstacle? Hurricane? Daycare closure? Sick kid? These things don’t throw me for a loop because I’ve got a time management track to get back on when life’s curveballs throw me off. And I know what it feels like to live a life that I love.
But it didn’t happen overnight. I made a lot of mistakes along the way — mistakes you might be making right now. But trust me, I’m not just going to point out the mistakes and leave you hanging. Today, I’m sharing 3 mistakes most people make when it comes to time management.
So today, we’re talking about
- 3 mistakes most people make when it comes to time management
- How your personality plays an important role in your productivity
- My very own time management method that anyone can use with success
- And finally, why living with HEART is the game-changing strategy you need for better work, life, and balance
Why time management isn’t working for you
There are 3 reasons it feels like there isn’t enough time in your day:
1. You’re copying and pasting someone else’s strategy or framework without adapting it to fit your life.
One thing I’ve found about most time management advice out there is that it’s just not realistic — at least it’s not realistic for MY life. And chances are if it’s not a good fit for ME, then it’s not a good fit for you, either, because I have a feeling that you and I have a lot in common!
Here’s what’s wrong with most time management advice. And Katie Wussow, my business coach and guest from back in Episode 69 put it really well. It’s masculine or monastic.
It seems like half the time management books out there are written by men in corporate roles who have wives and assistants who manage the “life” part of their work/life balance equation. I don’t want to make assumptions, but I have to assume that the men writing these time management books aren’t the default parent who takes their kids to doctors’ appointments, plans birthday parties, or makes sure there’s enough laundry detergent, toilet paper, and milk. That’s the masculine side of the equation.
And the books that aren’t overly masculine are monastic, like a monastery, with monks. Monastic basically means isolated. I love Cal Newport and his concept of Deep Work. I actually use his Deep Work and Shallow Work concepts in my coaching… but Cal isn’t on social media. And he barely uses email. Time management methods who tell you to put your phone on airplane mode and get work done? That’s another unrealistic example. Again — I have a 3-year-old and 1-year-old. I will not be putting my phone on airplane mode, because god forbid there’s an emergency at daycare. I’ve got to be available.
When the two prevailing time management methods are
1) written by old white dudes who have assistants and wives to do life for them, or
2) telling you to cut yourself off from the world to get things done, it’s easy to feel like time management won’t work for you.
Newsflash: If these two time management methods don’t match your lifestyle, they’re not going to work for you. But that’s not your fault. We’re all unique and have unique challenges, and time management is not something that can be copied and pasted — including the morning routines of millionaires, how so-and-so manages her to-do list, and whatever else. You’ve got to make it yours.
2. You’re giving up too quickly.
A lot of times, time management just isn’t an instant gratification kind of thing. I mean – it can be. One really easy way to get your time back is by canceling everything you’ve committed to, deleting all of your social media, and saying no to everything. But then we’re right back where we were with Mistake #1. None of that is realistic.
Instead, time management looks more like gradually peeling back the layers of an onion. One thing changes. Then another. Then another until, little by little, you look around one day and you realize that you feel calm, prepared, and ready for anything heading into your weeks. You realize that, after a month of doing weekly planning sessions, you’ve gotten into a good groove and it feels second nature. Or you realize that two weeks into using your latest ideal week that you need to adjust your morning routine.
The point is: Rarely (if ever) will a time management strategy work immediately. Give it some time. It’s time management, not Amazon prime same-day shipping.
3. You’re starting in the wrong place.
The biggest misconception about time management is that it starts on the pages of your calendar. All we need to do is look ahead at the next few weeks and see how we can make everything fit. We should get as much done as humanly possible, expecting that if we just use this productivity hack or write everything down in this planner, then we’ll magically be able to do all of those things. Now I’m certainly NOT telling you to throw away your Simplified Planner or delete your Google calendar and just give up.
Instead, I’m suggesting that good time management — the kind of time management that enables you to design a life you love, where your values are reflected on the pages of your calendar — that has to start somewhere else.
The best time management starts with HEART (my own acronym) — with getting clear on what matters most to you.
How I approach time management with HEART
Now that we’ve talked about a few of the common issues people experience when they try to manage their time, I want to tell you about how I think about time management. It’s how I use time management to work a full-time job, run a business, coach my clients, love on my family, and take care of myself. And it’s the same proprietary method I’ve used with dozens of time management coaching clients and educated thousands through workshops and speaking.
It’s time management that leads with the heart — instead of just moving things around on your calendar or rewriting your to-do list for the 7th time. (Yes, I see you, my friend.)
It doesn’t assume that you have a wife at home to handle life for you (wouldn’t that be nice??). It doesn’t assume that you’re able to go off the grid for hours or days at a time to get things done. And it’s more than just “Wake up at 5AM and make your bed every day and you’ll be successful.”
It’s called the HEART method, and it has three parts.
1. Get clear on your vision & your values.
First, you get to the heart of what matters most by creating a vision for your future and defining your core values. When someone tells me that they’re feeling overwhelmed or frazzled or frustrated with their time, or that they’re spinning their wheels, it’s because they don’t have a clear vision for the future. They don’t know what they really want or where they’re going, because they’ve been swept up in what other people want for them. These people might struggle with trying to please their parents, giving up on their dreams to raise their family, getting promoted to a job they didn’t really want, or another situation.
Getting clear on where you want to go is the real first step to good time management. When you have a vision and you know your core values, you’ve got an amazing foundation in place in literally everything else. Decisions are easier and you’re more confident about what you’re doing and why. You’ll know what to say yes to, what to say no to, and what is deserving of your time.
2. Create a plan.
The second step of my HEART method of time management is to make a plan. This looks like setting goals and breaking them down into smaller parts and pieces so they’re less overwhelming and more doable.
You want to go back to school and get your master’s degree? Before you can start your first day of class, you’ve got to research, ask for recommendation letters, request your transcripts, write essays, complete applications, submit them by specific deadlines; there are a lot of steps between point A and point B (let alone point Z). Until you break them down piece by piece and day by day, the whole idea of going back to school to get your master’s is going to feel huge and daunting. And a lot of people will give up before they even get started.
Maybe you don’t want to go grad school, maybe you just want to put up new wallpaper in the bathroom, find a new therapist, hire someone in your business or find a new job. Every single one of these examples ( and basically everything that makes a big lasting impact in our lives) requires multiple steps between point A and point B. Good time management means using your vision and your values to make a plan.
3. Live each day with HEART.
I don’t just mean living each day with gusto, or with high energy. H. E. A. R. T. is an acronym, which stands for:
- H for Habits – cultivating good habits
- E for Energy – harnessing your energy
- A for Attention – focusing your attention
- R for Recharge – rest, recreation, and relationships
- T for Time Management
Trust me, it absolutely blew my mind when I realized that the five key ingredients for better work, life and balance spell the word “heart.” I still remember where I was when I connected all the dots. Scott had a stomach virus, so I was sleeping in our guest room, up late reading a book about productivity.
In this book, the author said that energy, attention, and rest were the three key ingredients for productivity. And at that moment, I couldn’t help but think…. No, there’s more to it than that. You’ve gotta have good habits in place, constructing them with a cue, routine, and a reward. And you’ve got to incorporate time for fun, recreation, and time with friends and family. And that’s when it hit me — habits, energy, attention, recharge, and time. HEART.
That’s exactly what had enabled me to start a business and launch a podcast with an infant and keep it going two kids later, alongside a full-time job. And I started sharing this with my clients and using this, The HEART Method, as my coaching framework. Using the HEART Method, my clients have opened businesses, gotten into grad school, stepped into leadership roles, gotten promotions, started new jobs, and started loving their lives again. Just about any challenge life throws at you can be solved with habits, energy, attention, recharge, and (of course) time management when you’ve got a clear vision and a plan.
Get your roadmap to time management with HEART
I’ve put together The HEART Method Roadmap, a quick visual guide to The Heart Method, plus quick tips for taking action so you don’t waste another minute trying to squeeze yourself into a time management mold that just doesn’t fit. You can grab the Heart Method Roadmap here!
Good time management doesn’t begin on the pages of your planner. It doesn’t start with just moving things around and doing a bunch of productivity hacks. It starts with heart. Get clear on what matters most. Make a plan. Set goals and break them down into small, manageable steps. Live with heart. Cultivate good habits, harness your energy to do the right work when you’re at your best, focus your attention, recharge with rest, recreation and relationships and then, you’ll master time management.
Links & Resources Mentioned in Episode 122
- Episode 69 with Katie Wussow
- Cal Newport and his book Deep Work
- Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner
- Designing your ideal week
The Heart Method Roadmap for time management that works for you
Want to dig deeper into creating a life that works for you? Check out Be Different: Living With Confidence And Authenticity Featuring Natasha Coyle in Episode 98
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