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The Time Challenge: 3 Blockages to Effective Time Management

Updated: Jul 27, 2023


Any luck that your to-do list has shrunk this year? No? Yeah, mine either. If you are like me, you may find yourself secretly wishing for the superpower to manipulate time just so you can add a few extra hours to your day to get all the things done that is on that ever-growing to-do list.


In our fast-paced world, time is a valuable and limited asset that cannot be regained once it's gone. As such, mastering the skill of time management has become essential for success and well-being. Regardless of whether you are a student managing multiple assignments, a professional handling a busy work schedule, or a parent striving to balance family and personal life, effective time management can profoundly influence your productivity, alleviate stress, and elevate your overall quality of life.


When we have poorly managed schedules, we may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks and commitments we need to handle. We may then begin to feel that we have little control over our schedules and are constantly behind the eight-ball trying to catch up or handle last-minute emergencies. The overwhelm that this causes may lead us to procrastinate, struggling to both prioritize and initiate tasks. As we find our time slipping away due to insufficient time allocation and piss poor planning, we may begin to rush through activities causing errors and an increased sense of pressure. Constantly feeling pressed for time induces stress and negatively impacts work quality. Not only does our work quality suffer, but we forget or altogether miss important deadlines (submitting that project at work or signing up as parent volunteer for your child's field trip). Now in addition to overwhelm, we also welcome our old friends guilt and disappointment (both our own and that of others). We are now in a reactionary state, and it seems as if we are always putting out fires. The lines between our work lives and homes lives are blurred and we are so frazzled and behind on everything that we cannot afford to take time out for relaxation and self-care. Overwhelm. Procrastination. Harried. Disappointment. Guilt. Imbalance. Stress. Burnout.


It seems everyone's simple solution is, "manage time better." You may have even heard the adage, "Work smarter, not harder." But how? Because the truth is, many of us grapple with various obstacles that hinder our ability to manage time efficiently. In our blog today, we will explore 3 common challenges to effective time management and discuss solutions to overcome them.


Challenge #1: Making a Schedule

When you are stuck trying to find more time in your daily life, one of the last things we often want to do is actually sit down and make a schedule. After all, that requires time. That we already don't have. However, a well-structured schedule is a fundamental tool in time management. Whether you prefer a digital calendar or a traditional planner, creating a schedule allows us to visualize our day, week, or month, making it easier to establish our priorities and manage our time effectively. Now we know life happens. Life can be so unpredictable at times. Therefore, we have to be realistic when planning. A viable solution here is for us to leave room for unforeseen events and breaks to avoid burnout. Our schedules don't have to be set in stone; it's okay to make adjustments when necessary. However, it will be a struggle to make adjustments to a schedule we don't have thereby increasing that harried, always putting out fires, feeling.



Challenge #2: Sticking to Your Schedule

​"How many times have you completed a resume or cover letter and included any variation of the word "multi-tasking" in describing your qualifications for a job role? It is not only something we wear as a badge of honor, but it is almost demanded of us." ~New Year, New Me: All Starts with Time

It is so tempting to just procrastinate just a little and try to make up for it later by multitasking. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not an efficient way to get things done. Studies have shown that attempting to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously leads to reduced productivity and lower quality of work. We all like to believe that we are somehow the exception to the rules when the information or data is negative. Maybe you are the exception in the multitasking data. But just in case you and I are more alike than not, a solution is for us to just focus instead on one task at a time, complete it to the best of our ability, and then move on to the next. The multitasking lure is not the only challenge to sticking to our schedule. It is fear of routine that gets us in a chokehold. Now I like to think of myself as responsible. True enough. But I also do not like to think of myself as boring or predictable. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we sometimes resist scheduling because we fear it will lead to a monotonous and predictable routine, stifling our sense of spontaneity and adventure. It can be difficult to stick to a plan when distractions or temptations arise. This is where discipline and self-motivation comes in to play. Following and sticking to your schedule requires both.



Challenge #3: Identifying Your Time Wasters

A key aspect of mastering time management involves recognizing and eliminating time-wasting habits. Achieving a balance between work, personal life, hobbies, and self-care can be complex. Attempting to accommodate all these aspects within a schedule while preserving a healthy balance can be quite overwhelming. Things we may identify as "self-care" in excess can actually have the opposite effect. Time bandits can include excessive use of social media, aimless internet browsing, and procrastination. To identify your habits, one solution is to maintain a time log for a few days which will provide valuable insights into how you allocate your time. Once you've identified these "time bandits," you can then implement strategies to reduce or eliminate them, thereby freeing up more time for activities that truly matter.


Time management is a skill that empowers you to take control of your life, make the most of your time, and achieve a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Time management is not without its challenges. However, by setting personal priorities, creating and sticking to a well-structured schedule, and identifying time wasters, we can optimize our productivity, reduce stress, and find a healthy balance between work, personal life, and self-care.

​DID YOU KNOW?

Not covered or addressed in this article is the effects of being neurodivergent on our ability to manage time. Let's face it, we are all in some way different abled. When I refer to neurodivergence here, I'm referring to those of us whose brains are wired and work just a little differently (OCD, ADHD, Autism, etc). It doesn't mean that we are defective it just means we process the world differently. There is a new app in town that may prove useful to those of us who just need a little extra support in organizing our tasks and time, goblin.tools Magic ToDo. goblin.tools is a collection of small, simple, single-task tools, mostly designed to help neurodivergent people with tasks they find overwhelming or difficult. goblin.tools is written and maintained by Bram De Buyser, a freelance software engineer.

DISCLAIMER: Envision Coaching & Consulting LLC, EnvisionCo Blog, Letecia Griffin, goblin.tools, Skyhook, and Bram De Buyser take no responsibility for the results, or for how you use them.

Do you have any challenges to overcome with time management? Or maybe you have some advice or tips that were not included? Had you heard of goblin.tools prior to today and if so, have you ever used it? Please feel free to share your thoughts and advice for us in the comments below. Remember, with effective time management, you can truly make every moment count. As you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.


"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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