My Biggest Time Management Mistake And How To Fix It

After I had three kids within three years, I suddenly became really interested in time management and maximizing productivity.

I know, I know. What a shocker, right?

Anyway, I dutifully read all the time management tips I could find on Pinterest. (Here’s a link to my AweSome Time Management board in case you are interested.) I learned how to use my time intentionally, how to prioritize, how to break giant tasks into more manageable bits, how to delegate, and how to block schedule. I even learned to say “no” which was the hardest thing of all.

And yes, all of this DID help. I felt like I was accomplishing much more and using my time a lot more effectively than pre-kids.

But there was one squeaky cog in my well-oiled machine.  One crucial mistake I kept making over and over.

I didn’t factor in human nature. Or at least my own particular brand of human nature.

At my most authentic, I’m a dreamer, not a doer. I’m an observer. I’m a procrastinator. I’m an afternoon nap lover. I’m a long shower enthusiast. I’m a TV junkie (link to AweSome TV board 😉 ). I’m a sit-on-the-couch-talking-to-my-husband-with-a-drink-in-hand kind of wife.

And guess what? When I followed all the time management and productivity advice to the t and denied these parts of myself, I didn’t end up very happy.  I was either feeling like a failure for not being able to keep up with the goals and schedules I had set.  Or I was “accomplishing” more, but I was also more stressed and burned out than ever.

Something had to change.

So guess what I figured out? I figured out that being productive doesn’t have to be an “either or” proposition. As in you are either a super-human who is on from dawn to dusk or you are a total slob who never gets off the couch.

It doesn’t have to be like that. There is an in-between.

So I still follow most of the advice of the time management gurus.  But when I plan my time, I deliberately factor in time for procrastinating. For doing nothing. For processing. For resting. For vegging out.

Call it what you want, but this time needs to be factored in.

Because it’s not going to go away. Nor should it.

So when I schedule things, I always allocate more time than I “should”.  (Let’s face it, the 10-minute shower is never gonna be a reality for this girl.) I always list fewer things on my daily to-do than I “should”. And I leave more blocks with white space than I “should”.

Here are the three benefits of factoring in down time that I have noticed in my own life:

  1. I don’t constantly feel like a failure for not being able to live up to my own unreasonable-to-begin-with expectations. My expectations of myself are now more realistic, so I’m able to satisfy them much better.
  2. I enjoy life more. I consider just having a good time or being able to relax an accomplishment. Accomplishments are not just tangible things that other people can measure.
  3. When I’m actually in “doing” mode, I’m much more productive these days, because my brain is able to focus better and I feel well-rested. It’s SO much more productive to take a half hour nap and then work with a refreshed mind for another half hour, than it is to work for an hour feeling sluggish.

What do you think about all this? Do you schedule down-time? I would love to hear from you in the comments below. 🙂

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Looking for time management tips? Find out how to avoid the time management mistake I kept making...

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