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  • Writer's pictureJena

Time Management

Photo: Towfiqu barbhuiya

I know you didn't ask, but I want to share one of my toxic traits. Ready? It's that I struggle with time management. Time management has been something that I have worked on for a good part of my life and continue to work on to this day. I just missed a flight this morning because I was too late for the baggage check cut-off (yet somehow my checked bag ended up at my destination and I was left without a flight, but I digress...Yes, I'm still mad.) Time management is important, not only in order to get things done but also for social reasons- consistent lateness also translates to "I don't respect your time" for many people. Below, see some tips I'm using on how to manage time. First tip: Always give yourself enough time to check your bags at the airport.

Use a calendar: Many people use calendars for their jobs but may not use them outside of work. To be honest, I was resistant to the use of a calendar for my outside of work activities. It sounds silly but it made me feel as though everything was a job. (Do I really have to pencil in "Going to the nail salon with friends"?) Besides, I had all of my appointments and activities up in the old noggin. Except...well, sometimes the dates/times would be a little fuzzy. And that's where the calendar came in. Calendars are handy dandy since you can remind yourself of appointments and if you are coordinating with others (something people have to do when running a business or a project or a household), it can be nice for everyone to be on the same page.

Be realistic: Be realistic about how much time it will take you to do a task, work on a project, drive to an appointment, etc. Before, I always underestimated how much time it took me to do xyz task. 5 minutes would turn into 15. 30 minutes would turn into an hour long task. Now, I try to be more realistic. I might think it'll only take 15 minutes to drive to an appointment, but I'll give myself 30.

I might have a meeting that should be an hour so I'll pad the time a bit and won't schedule anything right after it in case it runs over. This way I'm not dashing from one task to another like a loon. And if that's not possible, I have to keep an eye on the time and end the task on time to move on to the next one.

Get help: This was a hard one is still hard occasionally, but I had to learn to ask for help when I found I wouldn't have the time or space to check something off on my list. Also, for some people, getting help can mean that you have someone (like an assistant) help you manage your schedule.

Plan: What's that saying? "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail." It's irritating but it's true. Plans are what keep our days organized and gets tasks completed. Plans are what turn dreams into reality. Spending some time each day planning is a good way to get ready for the next day.

Pivot: Sometimes things will fall through or won't go the way you planned. But instead of panicking, we have to pivot. It's not the most enjoyable task, but sometimes we have to call people and let them know we are going to be late or we have to cancel. Sometimes we will have to take a breath, completely change our plans, and move forward. (Even though our brain may be reacting like that Spongebob meme.)

Photo: from Spongebob Squarepants

Time management is a skill- a skill that people can learn, according to time management experts like Julie Morgenstern (author of Time Management from the Inside Out) and Lee Silber (author of Time Management for the Creative person). It isn't easy for many people, but it's possible to organize our time for maximum productivity as well as for a vibrant social life. My final tip is give yourself some grace. Giving grace is a phrase someone shared with me once and I have kept it in mind ever since. We aren't perfect. But it's okay. Believe me, as I sat at the airport for hours and hours and hoursssssssssssss after having to miss my flight, it was difficult to give myself some grace. But we are all learning and growing and none of us is a finished product. It's okay.


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