With so many of our friends PCSing and starting new jobs, we turned to our friend Stacy Swearengen at Portable Career Planning for some helpful advice. Enjoy her tips and insight into time management.
There is an epidemic among us, and we’ve accepted it as a fact of life. We’ve become accustomed to feeling like there is never enough time to accomplish all we have set out to do and have resigned ourselves to a life of being pulled in a hundred different directions, never really accomplishing anything to our fullest potential, all in the name of “a lack of time.”
With the launch of a new website, PCSing and setting up a new home, I’ve begun to question if 24 hours really does enough time to get the important things in life done (and this includes eating, sleeping and having fun …or if perhaps this ever-so-elusive-seeming amount of hours is in fact quite enough—we just haven’t figured out how to use it.
Now, if time management was an easy thing to master, there wouldn’t be so many blogs, books and self-help seminars on the matter. Everyone has his or her tricks and tips, but why does the problem persist? As a career coach and struggler of work/life balance myself, I’ve found a few key changes that must be made to our thinking about time before we can even hope to act differently when spending it. I call it “thought management,” and it’s kind of like the prerequisite to time management.
Thought Management Principle #1:
You Cannot Make Time…You Can Only Take It
How often do you say, “I have to make time to …(insert whatever action you have been putting off for days/weeks/months)”? It sounds totally fine, right? Well.. not really. It wasn’t until I attended a workshop, where the speaker said this very statement, that I realized how we subconsciously view time so incorrectly.
Try as we might, we cannot make any more hours in the day. We can stay up later or work longer, but we still have a set amount of time—and with every action you choose to do, you take time—thereby using it up. Which brings us to Thought Management Principle #2…
Thought Management Principle #2: When You Choose To Do One Thing, You Automatically Choose NOT to Do Everything Else
Stay up late…don’t sleep…watch reality TV all day. With each action you take, you make an unconscious (or conscious) decision to forgo everything else you could be doing with that minute, hour, day.
This is pretty powerful to think about, especially when you are choosing to do the things that are not priorities or that are actually eating away at your goals.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking because the cynic in me thought it too: If I multi-task I am ultimately beating the clock! Let’s really look at that logic though…
Thought Management Principle #3: Multi-Tasking is a Fast Way to Achieve Slow Results
Why are there so many of us who are tired, worn out, and who feel like we are just barely keeping our heads above water when it comes to getting everything done?
Unfortunately, we have so many fires to put out on a daily basis that we start to feel like we have no choice but to take on more and more. The problem is our responsibilities and daily duties increase, but the time we have remains the same. So, we get really good at “multi-tasking.” It feels like we’re accomplishing lots all at once, but we’re never fully focused on any one thing.
Recent research has shown that over time, multitasking actually propels our sense of overwhelm by not allowing us to recover from the excessive stimulation that bombards us on a daily basis.
And for those of you who disagree, there’s a new study that finds people who think they are the masters of multitask tend to be the worst at it!
Time Management Resources
One of the top ways that I found to kick the multi-tasking habit and really see how ineffective my time management had become as a result was to record my daily activities. There are a few resources I’ve used in my professional life that helped me along my time management journey:
- LetsFreckle – You can pay for the service, but I found that a free trial provided me with enough information to see the trends and time wasters that I needed to kick.
- TeamGantt – This is another resource that you can pay for or use a free trial. This site is for teams and project management, but I like it for the fact it’s a great way to see how I manage multiple projects simultaneously.
These resources helped me to see that the technology that is supposed to make life so much easier to manage, like email and social media, was actually causing me to get less done. The key is to find the time wasters in your life—and they won’t necessarily be like mine, or your best friend. Identify yours and see them for exactly what they are: a big black hole where time disappears!
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PCSing? Need help? Read more advice from Stacy and other special sections about careers in our free PCS Guide.