Improving Time Management

Written by Schiviena Crawley

I am a Cincinnati native, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), licensed to practice in Ohio. I am committed to empowering others to overcome mental, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual distress. I have a unique call to bridge the church and mental health.

October 7, 2020

What’s one thing that almost everyone wants more of but could never get back? Time. 24 hours – that’s all we get; in a single day at least. With all the responsibilities we handle, 24 hours isn’t really 24 hours. Depending on your lifestyle, you have 8 hours in the workday, 8 hours to sleep, and another 8 hours to do what? How do you spend that time? Do you rest? Engage in recreational activities with family and/or friends? When do you take the time to cultivate your spirituality, to enhance your knowledge and skills, or to be intentional in finding ways to expand your business?

I see a lot of creatives and entrepreneurs in my practice. Almost all of them wrestle with stress and/or anxiety. My clients are vastly different, but they’re missing the same thing – time management. Time management is described as the ability to effectively organize or structure your daily activities. Ineffective time management often leads to stress, anxiety, and burn out. Strengthening the skills below can help you to better manage your time and therefore increase productivity.

Overcoming Procrastination

What’s the root cause for your procrastination? People generally procrastinate because they don’t want to do the task, perhaps because they find it silly, pointless, or a waste of their time. If this is the reason for your procrastination, learn to delegate. If the luxury of delegating is not an option, prioritize the undesirable task over the other responsibilities. Complete the undesirable task first, then celebrate your accomplishment with a small reward.

People also procrastinate due to fear of making a mistake, fear that the work will not be good enough, or that it won’t be done “right.” This is known as perfectionism (more about this below). Do it anyway! If you dive in at the top of the hour instead of procrastinating, you can use the remaining time to refine your work.

Release Perfectionism

Perfectionism convinces you that your work is not good enough. Instead of using the time wisely, you rework over and over (or completely avoid the task) until it’s perfect or “good enough.” Releasing perfectionism requires a mindset shift. You must shift your attitude, your standards, and your expectations. I’ve noticed that with perfectionism, we tend to place unrealistic or excessively high standards and expectations on ourselves. Yes, I’m included. Contrary to [y]our belief, it is ok to make mistakes. Give yourself permission to accept the results just as they are – acknowledging that your best is acceptable.

Overestimate Time

If you tend to underestimate how long it will take for you to complete a task, I suggest that you double, maybe even triple the amount of time you originally allotted. This helps to eliminate the stress induced through rushing to meet a deadline.

Prioritize Tasks

I’m often asked the question “How do you balance all the things you have going on?” My response is “prioritizing.” Sure, it’s all important, but you must remember to put first things first. Separate your tasks from urgent, important, and less important. It helps to write them down or type them in 3 columns – whichever you prefer. Again, put first things first. Start with the tasks that are most urgent, move on to important, and reserve less important for the finale’.

Delegate

To delegate means to remove the “S” from your chest, relinquishing your need to always be in control. It is the willingness to accept assistance and support from others. Take what’s for you and leave the rest. With that being said, I recognize that not all things can (and maybe should not) be delegated for someone else to handle. After separating the less important from the most important and urgent, decide which tasks to delegate and to whom you could entrust these tasks: a supervisee, your spouse, your kids, or maybe paying someone. By delegating, you lessen your load, making it easier to carry and thereby lower stress.

Set Limits

One of the top barriers to effective time management is taking on more than you can handle. Good time management is understanding your limits and setting firm boundaries. It means saying no when the people-pleaser in you wants to say yes. It means accepting your limitations, not from a place of defeat, but from an emotionally healthy soul who understands that superhuman doesn’t exist. What are you allowing for yourself? What tasks or responsibilities are you taking on out of fear of failing, fear of disappointing, or fear of missing out? It’s hard to effectively manage time when you have unrealistic expectations of yourself.

Employ these tips for the next seven days and let me know how helpful they are in managing your time, lowering stress, and increasing productivity. This list is not all encompassing. Please feel free to add other tips that you have found to be helpful.

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