Running Out of Time
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey- stuff.”
For some of us, the end of August marks the beginning of packed lunches, after-school practice and class projects. With summer break hours coming to an end, the resurgence of the weekly calendar is more important than ever. Whether you are with or without kids, the annual school schedule affects us all. Even for the best of us, time management is daily work. From sun up to sun down, we do our best to pack our schedules with our daily activities, both personal and professional, in the hopes of staying on track and keeping a good balance. Yet, often times, we see ourselves running out of juice and wondering where the day went; wishing we had either more hours or more energy or quote frankly, both! Do you feel yourself losing grip of your schedule? Could it be that we are overcommitting our time?
Overcommitment & Self Care
When we find ourselves drowning in our workload, the first thing to be affected is often self-care. We push reading time for laundry time, gym time for making dinner time and so forth since items that pertain to personal enjoyment are always the first to go. We feel like we’re accommodating priorities without realizing that we are a priority. Eventually, pushing time to make up for these important tasks leads to less sleep at night, a bad mood the following morning and the beginning turns of a harmful cycle. Furthermore, as Veronica Arreola states for Experience Life, ” I was working hard to keep up,” she says. “But I wore myself out, got sick, and fell behind because of missed time from work. Too many of us pack our calendars full. We commit to more than we can handle, assuming that we’ll squeeze it all in somehow. Often, we ignore the consequences.”
While the problem of over scheduling is not new to this generation, it is extrapolated by the technology we accolade with being “time saving” and “making life easier.” In our pockets and purses we hold a device that streams pure information within inches of your face, 24 hours a day, 7 days week. While in the past we could close our computers and leave the office, today we have email and calendar notifications that follows us out of the office and keeps us connected at all times. Not to mention the plethora of work environments which span countries and time zones alike where disconnecting is not a possibility. In addition, the constant connectivity makes it impossible to set boundaries and limits.
Time to Task Up
Like any problem we experience, the first step is admitting that one exists in the first place. The next step is to breaking down your day to spot where the over scheduling is occurring and working to do your best to break this addiction. According to the Experience Life article, the three steps to doing so are acknowledging your limits, observing your patterns and clarifying the values that are your life worth living in the first place.
Set up a routine. Routines will help to give your daily schedule a base foundation to build on. These are items (walk the dog, pack lunches, go to the gym) that you know how long it will take to complete and which you know need to be completed every day. Doing this on a weekly basis will give you a better understanding on the amount of “free time” you truly have.
Build buffer zones. Avoid “cramming” things into your schedule for the sake of getting things done. This is the equivalent of making a to-do list of 40 items off the bat. You are setting yourself up for failure and at the same time adding anxiety to overall process. Pick 5 items at a time, on level of priority, that need to be completed and give yourself 15-30 minutes between them to refresh your mind. This allows yourself not only to wipe the slate clean for the following task but also allows you buffer room for unexpected emergencies.
Know when you work best. Especially in this day and age, we no longer find ourselves locked into a traditional 9-5 job. Let’s face it. This is not your grandparent’s world anymore. Some of us are single parents, some of us have two jobs, others have a day job and school at night. We must learn to focus on our time and energy and mold it to the most efficient caliber. Take a moment to step and back and analyze your routine. Figure out your personal schedule and when you work best. What time of the day you have the most energy and center your most pressing, time and mentally consuming tasks around that time.
Understand your limits. This is a tough one. We are the generation that avoids two trips to unload the groceries. We are driven to overcome barriers and obstacles. We are invincible, yes, but sometimes we need to head back down to the ground and face the reality of understanding our limits. Peer pressure plays a huge role in our decisions; the inability to say no to your boss or your best friend. We need to understand our limits. Introduce new tasks to your routine by doubling the estimated time you think it will take to complete. Repeat the task 2-3 times until you can determine the average time of completion and whether it fits into your routine. Most importantly, learn to say no. (Yes, Mom, I hear you loud and clear.) But she was right. The world will continue if you say no to an event or turn down an extra project you don’t have realistic time or energy to complete.
Whether you are a student, a professional or an athlete, we can all use some extra help when it comes to time management. Use this week to take notes on your daily routines and strategize your best move forward. Create a foundation and levy tasks to the best of your ability. Take note on what works for you, what doesn’t, what needs to be approved. We are creatures of routine. It will get easier. You just have to start.