Are you always upset about time management? You make to-do lists, try to work faster and prioritize. But still, you’re always running out of steam.
You might wonder: Is something wrong with me?
Before you beat yourself up, think about this: There is no such thing as time management. You can’t make more time, save it up, stretch it or manipulate it.
Instead, try to learn how to manage your personal energy. Getting things done has more to do with how you feel. Are you energetic? Focused? Full of drive?
To review where you’re losing energy, you’ll need to review your life and habits. These questions can help:
— How well do you sleep? It’s tough to muster physical or mental energy if you’re tired. Something as simple as buying a new mattress can help.
— How organized are your possessions? If, for example, you want to get work done at home, it helps to create a clutter-free desk. A messy desk can destroy your focus.
— Do you have exciting goals? Motivation enhances emotional energy. For example, wasn’t it much easier to clean house if you were planning a party (before the pandemic)?
— Are you bored with life? Boredom springs from doing the same things over and over. Doing something new, such as getting a new puppy or joining an online group to discuss travel destinations, adds pizazz to your life.
“I can get moving easier if I picture my entire day,” says Christa, a French teacher who didn’t wish to share her last name. “If my day feels boring, I try to invent something to drive my spirits up. I’ll order a new flavor or brand of coffee to try, or I’ll call an old friend. Having something to look forward to creates energy.”
If we each play a mental mini-movie about the 24 hours in front of us, we can figure out how to create momentum. For instance, we’ll bog down by doing three difficult tasks in one day. It’s better to space out challenging mental tasks, difficult phone calls and physical chores.
“There should be a rhythm to my day,” says Christa, “or I feel sapped pretty quickly.”
Erasing some worry will keep us from draining our own energy, too. Worry is essentially caused by being overwhelmed by our never-ending to-do lists. Can we complete them? We also often agonize over the unmet needs and problems of our friends and relatives.
Rocky, a career coach I know who also didn’t want his last name used, says he was losing faith in himself. “I’d be telling other people how to prioritize and tackle their to-do lists, but I wasn’t completing mine — by a longshot,” he confesses.
“I had to admit that I’d taken on too many clients,” says Rocky. “I was trying to make more money, but I was killing myself to do it. I was exhausted before 2 p.m. every day.”
Rocky had some self-reflection to do. After a few days of reviewing his strategies, he figured out his basic mistake. He wasn’t taking care of himself.
“I teach people who want to become writers they must take excellent care of the writer,” Rocky emphasizes. “Treating yourself well, taking breaks, finding inner peace is key. You don’t try to write eight hours a day. Instead, write a total of three hours a day.”
Rocky got busy utilizing his own advice to help himself. He cut his client load by 20% as clients fulfilled their 12-week program with him. And he started taking a one-hour break every afternoon.
“You’ll know when you find balance,” Rocky says. “You’ll feel energized and be looking for something interesting to do. You won’t be curled up on the sofa.”