If you’re seeking standard time management tips, my website has you covered with posts like these:
BUT. Today, I want to share time management advice with a very specific group of people. I want to address the dear readers who email me to politely say thank you for sending them the Calm Planner, but then go on to say “You’re crazy, Anni! I CAN’T just start scheduling my life.”
Well, they are too nice to say it quite that directly, but they say things like this:
“I struggle with generalized anxiety and have absolutely no sense of time management. I’m an artist by nature, so the idea of ‘blocking out’ some time to create feels crazy. I don’t know how long or how into a project I’ll get. I don’t have kids yet, but I own a home with my husband and it has become increasingly paralyzing to do anything. ? any tips?”
So I’ve been pondering these schedule-averse people who find the idea of time management pretty foreign, and if you happen to be one of them, here are the 5 things I would say to you.
Time Management Tips For People Who Suck At Time Management
1. There Is Absolutely Nothing Inherently Wrong With NOT Managing Your Time
There is nothing – absolutely nothing – inherently wrong with skipping time management and scheduling altogether. Not everyone needs it.
Some people are able to just live in the moment, react to whatever may come, and live happily ever after. They are able to make in-the-moment decisions that lead to the kind of life they want to live without getting all intentional and planner-obsessed about it.
If you are one of these people, embrace it! And don’t ever click on another time management article again. 😀
2. Here Are The Reasons Why SOME People Benefit From Time Management
With that being said, there are two groups of people who can REALLY benefit from time management. And I’m very familiar with these groups, because I used to belong in both myself.
People Pleasers Whose Agenda Always Gets Hijacked By Other People
People pleasers’ time problem is that they never have enough time for the things they need to or want to do. They are always too busy doing what others need or want them to do.
For many people pleasers, this means foregoing basic physical self care (sleep, exercise, relaxation) and basic mental health care (passion projects that make you excited to be alive).
Time management can help in overcoming this pattern, because:
- Advance planning ensures that you actually have time set aside for yourself somewhere in there.
- When you plan in advance and write down your plan, it increases the chances that you will follow through – even in the face of people who pull you in a different direction.
- When you plan your time use in advance, you can also make a plan for dealing with interruptions and people who want to divert you from your own agenda.
- When you set up and stick to routines for a while, people around you will learn to respect your boundaries without constant confrontations. (My kids know that I’m available to help with homework between 4pm and 5pm and tough luck if you wait until I’m already curled up on the couch with my evening cup of tea.)
People Who Have No Clue How Long Things Actually Take
People who have no clue how long things actually take struggle in two ways:
- They make errors in planning. They think they are capable of doing much more than is actually humanly possible. So they have mile-long to-do-lists and then they wind up disappointed and frustrated when they never get around to the important stuff.
- They overcommit and end up majorly stressed out.
Time management helps these people, because:
- When you track your time, you learn how long things actually take, and you are able to make MUCH more accurate plans, and therefore, ensure that your highest priorities get the time they deserve.
- With realistic planning, overcommitment is no longer an issue and you have more time left over for chillin’.
So it’s for the benefit of these two groups of people that I share the Calm Planner. And it’s also for the benefit of these two groups of people that there’s a whole chapter devoted to time management in Conquer Your Anxiety.
Too much stress and not enough self care contribute to anxiety, and for these two groups of people, better time management can help alleviate those issues.
3. There Are Different Degrees Of Time Management
Another thing I would point out is that different degrees of time management work for different people.
Personally, I do best with a fairly comprehensive time management system. I plan in advance and block nearly ALL of my time in half-hour increments. This doesn’t mean that I never adjust my plans on the fly or that I never have time blocks that read “down-time”. I do!
But I find that the more I think about how I want to spend my days in advance, the closer I get to a life that feels fulfilling and satisfying to me. Making good decisions in-the-moment is just not one of my strong suits. 🙂
However, there are many people who do great with a much looser version of time management. Perhaps they pencil in their most important priorities, but leave several daily hours of “white space” in their planners.
And that’s totally fine! The only thing that matters is that you feel good about how you are spending your time and that your daily activities are in alignment with your core values. What degree of time management is required to get there varies from one person to another.
4. The Biggest Bang For Your Buck Will Come From…
Other than simply being intentional and tracking my time use, the most valuable lesson I’ve picked up from time management and productivity gurus is to pay attention to how your energy levels typically fluctuate throughout the day and then plan your activities accordingly.
For example, I have the most energy and I’m at my most creative in the morning and then my energy and creativity levels steadily decline throughout the day. So for me, it makes sense to block out time for “brain work” in the morning and early afternoon. After dinner, all I’m good for is folding laundry while watching 90-Day Fiance. 🙂
But some people are the opposite. They start the day out feeling sluggish and are at their most creative in the evening hours.
Paying attention to how YOUR energy and creativity levels fluctuate really helps in getting more bang for your time buck.
If you are lucky enough to have complete freedom to only work when you happen to feel inspired, that’s great!
But most of us don’t. Most of us have deadlines to meet and kids to feed and obligations to fulfill. And the next best thing is to schedule those obligations – to the extent possible – so that the brainy ones get your attention at your most energetic and the more routine tasks are left for the slower time-slots.
5. The More You Do It, The Easier It Gets
Time management is one of those things that’s a hassle in the beginning but that gets a lot easier with practice.
When I first started, my schedules were never even close to working out and I was constantly having to make adjustments.
But the act of making those adjustments over and over again taught me how long things actually take, what my most productive time slots are, and even what kind of schedules are going to maximize my well-being.
At this point, using my time intentionally is so automatic that I wouldn’t really even have to write my schedules down. I only do it, because I happen to be the planner-obsessed type. I like the act of sitting down on Sunday evening and visualizing the week ahead.
But if you would rather wait and be surprised, there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂