How Do You Manage Your Time?
Posted on 23rd December 2017 at 23:09
Do you prioritise your life as well as your work?
So today we are talking about managing time because quite a lot of what I do, especially when I do a workshop or something like that, is help people manage stress so that they can build their resilience, so that they can be happier and healthier. Now I do that in all my work.
But a big part of managing stress, for me, is managing your time.
There seems to be a trend at the moment about talking about time management and then saying you can’t manage time, but you can organise it. I think it’s the same thing.
So whether you think it is called ‘time management’ or ‘time organisation’ or whatever you want to call it, I think it’s a massive part of reducing stress, managing stress, helping with overwhelm, and building resilience, because overwhelm happens.
Stress happens when you have a gazillion things to do and you feel like you have no time to do them, or you don’t know which one to do first, or you try and do 16 of them all at the same time! That’s when overwhelm and stress start to kick in.
For me, a huge part of dealing with overwhelm or stress is dealing with your time.
So my first question for you is: Do you manage your time?
Today’s subject is called ‘How do you manage your time?’. But do you actually, actively, consciously, on purpose manage your time, manage the amount of time that you have to do what you need to do on a certain day, or in a certain week, or in a certain month?
I’m going to throw that question over to James Chisholm. Do you manage yours?
(the following is a transcript of the conversation James and I had - if you'd rather watch the Facebook live video recording - click here)
James: I’m very good at managing mine work-wise. Not very good at managing it personal-wise. Work stuff tends to encroach and I could be better at that.
Jo: That’s a really good point, I think, because one of my things to talk about was: What do you plan, is it just work or life too?
James: See now I have to plan life because if I don’t things won’t happen or things overlap. So about two years ago, I was probably about a year into being self-employed and my diary was getting hectic and I was working beyond working hours – not that that’s a bad thing because it meant that I could go and pick my son up from school and stuff like that, or go and watch him play football and all of those sorts of things; but what I realised was, especially at the end of the summer holidays, I had no idea what I could book in where because I had no idea what Lorna or Darcy were actually going to be doing. So I got them both to have an electronic calendar which means that we, in theory, are all synced up so Lorna and I know exactly who is doing what when, who is doing pick-up and who is doing drop-off and all of those sorts of things.
Jo: That’s a big one, isn’t it? With kids and stuff it can get a little bit all over the place can’t it? When they’ve got to go to a friend’s to play, or other activities. So you plan life and work.
James: Yes. I try to.
Jo: Woah! Do you try to or do you do it?
James: The thing is that it’s always planned. But then things change and it’s not necessarily me that’s changing them. It’s all the things around me that change and then I flex to make things happen, which is where the time management bit for me doesn’t really work.
Jo: Another note that I have here is: Can you be flexible or are you rigid?
You make a couple of good points because when we talk about managing our time, a lot of the time people are talking about work, aren’t they? And I think, actually a lot of the time people don’t apply the same processes that they use in their work, to life in general.
And it makes utter sense to do that. But when we think about managing our time we just do it for work.
So that would be my first thought for you all today. Make sure you are managing your life time too, not just your work time.
The absolutely number one place to start is to make sure you are planning the whole damn lot, the whole kit and caboodle. Don’t just do it for work, do it for your life too. It just makes everything flow a little bit smoother and that is what we’re after, isn't it? We’re after flowing smoother so that we don’t get that feeling of overwhelm.
Now what I know a lot of people struggle with is prioritising, because you end up with this freaking enormous list of things to get done and then you’ve got to work out which one you need to do first and I know a lot of people sit and look at their list and go, “Aaarrgghhh! Oh my word! There’s so much on there and it’s so big and enormous and OMG!” And then they cherry-pick things. And they get half way through a job and start doing another one and stuff like that.
So how do you prioritise yours?
James: You see, for me, I’m probably going to get shouted at from a lot of people because a lot of people say you should eat the frog and all that malarkey, but I do it based on how I feel. So if I’m having a day when I don’t feel like things are really going to flow that well for me, I’ll do the small easy things and just get stuff ticked off, whereas if I’m feeling on it, I’ll do a big thing that’s a proper task.
Jo: Do you have the world’s biggest To Do List? Do you prioritise it before you start even thinking about doing the stuff, do you prioritise it?
James: I have got a list of things that I want to do.
Jo: Generally, or for that day?
James: Just generally. I obviously have regular deadlines and things like that which are hard deadlines and a lot of the stuff that hangs around for me to do is stuff that has soft deadlines. So that’s the stuff that I tend to have on my To Do List. All the rest of the stuff I know needs to be done by certain days. I’m an accountant. I work on monthly stuff and annual stuff.
Jo: But that’s like set in your diary in stone, isn't it?
James: Yeah, absolutely. All of my clients, their annual returns, things like that. I have a client calendar where that alerts me a month in advance that something needs to happen.
Jo: I can actually vouch for that because I’m one of James Chisholm’s clients and very often I will send him an email that I have had from HMRC or a similar scary person and he will say, “Yeah I am already on it because I’ve already been alerted to it.”
James: I sent you a text that last time before you should have got anything, didn’t I? It popped up in my diary so I thought I’d send a message so that you don’t get freaked out by it.
Jo: So he is telling the truth, ladies and gentlemen. I can vouch for him.
James: But they are the hard deadlines, things that I know are coming and I know that certain things need to happen by those dates and that’s the stuff that I find very easy to do. The softer things are the bits that I find hard and stay on my To Do List longer and they’re the bits where I need to be in the right mood to do them. That’s just my way of dealing with things.
Jo: Okay. In this conversation, are you just talking about work stuff?
James: Life stuff, I tend to be pretty much on it with that sort of stuff. Most of my life isn’t actually focussed in on me. That is the bit where it’s a little bit different.
Jo: Yes, we’ve had this conversation several times.
James: A lot of my weekends and stuff like that revert around family and things like that. So that’s where things go awry for me a little bit, apart from pro-basketball on a Sunday night, that’s my thing.
Jo: Okay, and do you ever find, that because you have got this soft list of stuff to do, that you get to the end of the week and you haven’t done half of it?
James: Yes, but ...
Jo: Does it then encroach in family time?
James: It can do. I’ve got better at not having to do that but I’m quite lucky in the fact that Lorna and Darcy don’t like to get up early so if I really need to, I can get pretty much a whole day’s worth of work in before they get up because I’ll quite easily get up at half four, five o’clock in the morning.
Jo: Hey! How much sleep do you have, man?
James: Usually about four or five hours is good enough.
Jo: That is not good enough! That is nowhere near good enough, four or five hours sleep. I am being properly serious.
James: On a one-off, to get things done.
Jo: On a one-off?
James: I don’t do it all the time.
Jo: Okay, I’ll let you off.
James: I have six hours sleep on a regular basis.
Jo: My god, d’you know what, I am tired today because I only had six hours sleep last night.
James: You need to condition your body to only having six hours sleep.
Jo: No, no, no you do not need to condition your body! Oh my god!
James: Just ignore me. I don’t know anything.
Jo: Oh my goodness me. Anyway the point of me grilling James Chisholm in that fashion is because I think that we get the prioritisation wrong. Because I think most of us do this kind of process in terms of work and not in terms of life. We forget things about family and mindset.
One of my absolutely top priorities for me, every single day is to work on my mindset and it’s in my dairy and in my calendar every single day. It’s normally the very first thing I do every single day upon waking, refreshed after seven or eight hours sleep, not four. It’s the first thing that I do because for me, that’s an absolute priority. Whereas I think quite a lot of people put stuff like that to the bottom of their list, don’t they?
That was something I wanted to just talk about here to get you to think about it for yourself.
What do you prioritise and have you got those priorities right?
I will tell you absolutely, the very venerable Brad Burton would absolutely say that your priorities in life need to be health, family, business. And I completely and utterly agree with him. Completely. Because if your health, physical or mental, isn’t there, you can’t do the other two. If you’re prioritising your business over your family, then I will wag my finger at you. I want you to think about your priorities.
When you’re looking at your time management, your organisation of your time, make it for your life, not just your work life but your life-life. Make sure you’re flexible with it because there are other people around, largely.
James: There are also days when, for example for me, I’m much more comfortable now with a day where I haven’t got anything booked in, with actually not doing what I thought I was going to do. Does that make sense?
Jo: I just need a minute to decipher that sentence.
James: So if I have got a big long list of things that I want to do - in my head now I’ve got about ten things that I know I need to do for my business; have I done them today? No. But that’s not the end of the world because I’ve done housework and stuff like that because I didn’t feel in the mood for doing that this morning. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it whereas in the past I would have done.
Jo: Cool. Not cool that you’ve done it in the past. Cool that you haven’t beaten yourself up about it. It’s not the end of the world, is it?
James: No. My newsletter will write itself eventually. I have actually committed to writing my newsletter.
Jo: But not actually done it. But you know, it’s commitment and the intention is good isn't it?
And then, prioritising. Learn how to prioritise things. If you haven’t got a clue, if you’re sat there going, “I don't know how to prioritise,” I just gave it to you. Health – Family – Business, end of, okay?
Then, for me, to have the jobs in the first place, to have that list of stuff to do, really before any of the time management stuff starts, you kind of have to know where you are going, don’t you?
And I think quite a lot of people don’t have a clue. They have, like, a vague idea, an ishness about where they are going or what they want to achieve, but haven’t actually ever necessarily clarified it, formulated it, put it down on paper, seen in their heads.
I think a lot of people just go through life and fire fight, rather than having a path that they are walking to get them to that place. What I think your proper management of your time helps you do, is work out how to get there, doesn’t it? That is what it is supposed to do, isn't it?
So if you don’t have that vision in the first place, then you are just doing fluffy things for a bit, rather than with a clear path to walk. And then once you have got that vision at the end, you can see the path, but then it’s whether you let the path get overgrown or not, that is where the time management thing comes in. If you’ve got bushes and brambles hitting you in the face every five seconds it ain’t gonna do what it needs to do, is it? You’re not going to get where you need to get or where you want to go.
So, James, on a scale of one to ten, where ten is the most, how organised would you say you are? Generally and then for your work.
James: You see now I think I probably am over-organised which restricts my flexibility sometimes but that’s just the type of personality I am. So the first thing that instantly springs to mind is the fact that me and Lorna are completely different. She writes me a shopping list, I get incredibly frustrated when I get to the shop because everything is in the order in which she thought it, not in the order of the shop which is going to waste my time because I have to go all the way ...
Jo: That sounds like me.
James: That’s just not the way my brain works. My brain works on the fact that I think about how the shop is laid out.
Jo: How do you know how the shop’s laid out?
James: Because you’ve been there before! If you haven’t been there before you can sort of guess at it, but all the veg is together, so don’t put the carrots and the onions three miles apart on the list because I’ll get the carrots and then I’ll move on to the next thing and then I’ll find the onions ...
Jo: Do you not think that this is the difference between men and women? Do you not think, as you’re reading the list and it says carrots, do you not think, “I’ll just have a look further down the list and see what other veg is there.”?
James: I try to but I don’t always see everything!
Jo: [reading comments]
Question: How do you develop that vision especially when you’re fire fighting?
Answer: You have to start with the vision. You have to take time out to come up with the vision in the first place. There is absolutely no point spending your life fire fighting. If you are spending your life fire fighting, then you are going to exhaust yourself, you are going to be overwhelmed and stressed before you can say Jack Robinson. It’s important. It’s not a luxury, it’s not a nicety. You start and you get the vision first, absolutely 100%.
It is something that I work with people to do. It is something that Croz Crossley works with people to do, he calls it your CMI, same kind of thing as I teach. It’s about setting the vision, because if you haven’t got that vision, you can have all the time management stuff you like in the world but there’s no blinkin’ point because you have no idea where you are going, no idea at all.
James: It’s sort of counter-intuitive.
Jo: Yeah, totally.
James: You are taking time out when you could actually be doing stuff.
Jo: It keeps you going as well, it keeps you on that path. If you have a picture in your head of where you are going and what you want, then that actually helps you in those times where your To Do List is enormous and you can’t quite grasp what you have got to do next, it makes you take the next step and the next step because you know what you are working towards. If you don’t know what you are working towards you lose the motivation, you lose the passion, you lose the everything of it because you have no idea where you are going.
James: I am probably over-organised in that respect and being flexible is something that I have had to learn and adapt to so that’s always something that I find difficult. It’s not necessarily the flexibility but allowing things to get, like I said, having the ability to actually not knuckle down to something when you are not feeling like it. I learned that relatively early on in university. Some days I could write 1500 words, other days I struggled to write 50 and I eventually realised if I was struggling to write 50 I was just better off going away and doing something else because there was no point in me sitting there, beating myself up for hours that I wasn’t getting anything done. I think overall, I’m generally pretty organised, whether I use my time as effectively as I should, I’m probably not at where I would like to be with that.
Jo: So there you go. I think that’s the end for today. They are our thoughts on managing your time.
Make sure it’s work and life, don’t just do work. Do your life too, because, d'you know what, life is quite important. You only get one. Make sure you prioritise the right stuff in the right order.
If you need a hand working out what that order is, then get in touch with me. Make sure you have a vision to work towards so that then the steps to get there become apparent and become clearer and it motivates you to keep going with them.
Make sure you stay flexible because stuff happens. Life throws stuff at you so make sure that you have the time. Don’t plan it in to the nth degree, then when something unexpected happens you go into a complete panic and total overwhelm because when the hell else are you going to get all of these things done? Make sure you plan it.
I’m going to go and have a word with James Chisholm now about exactly how he plans his time because I think he could be doing it more effectively. That’s just my opinion.
We’re going to leave you with those tips. If you would like to know more, get in touch with me or get in touch with James Chisholm! See you next time.
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