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2020 Time Management Lessons
2020 was quite the year. And while I don’t want to encourage toxic positivity, I do think that there’s a lot that we can be thankful for from last year. I know that I personally learned a lot of lessons that I’m grateful to be past, and today I want to share five 2020 time management lessons with you.
One of the biggest complaints that I’ve seen in the last year is the lack of ability to find balance and manage time well because of all of the different hats and responsibilities that had to be taken on. Maybe you feel or felt that way. Maybe you feel like you’ve got so much on your plate that you can’t do anything but tread water, and even then, you’re treading just enough to keep your nose in the air with everything else totally submerged.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. You feel like that because the overwhelm has taken over. But you CAN make a change and claw your way out of the water. In this post, I’m sharing 5 lessons that 2020 taught me about time management and how you can take action on each of those lessons today in order to not feel quite so overwhelmed.
2020 Time Management Lesson #1 – The Need for the Ability to Pivot
I firmly believe that using your time wisely isn’t so that you can be the most productive and the most efficient and get all the things done, but so that you have this white space, which gives you the ability to pivot.
We shouldn’t be managing our time in such a way that we are attempting to puzzle piece our days together. Instead, we should be using it to allow us to make space both in our calendar and in our days, but also mental space. This mental space gives us the ability to daydream again, be creative, and be flexible when we need to pivot. To be able to recognize the need to shut down and to have the ability, the time and the mental capacity to step back and pivot.
And the best thing you can do to create that space and that ability to pivot is to simplify what’s on your plate. If you are squeezing things in all day long, it’s time to really step back and take a look at what you’ve got on your plate and say yes to some of it, but no to a lot of it – you can’t do everything.
You cannot do it all. It’s not possible. So what are the things that actually matter? Get really intentional about what you put on your to–do list. So often we think I need to get as much done as possible, and need to learn all the motivation and the self-discipline and the productivity tips so that we can get everything done.
But actually what you need to be doing is taking more off your plate than putting it on. So take things off your plate, give yourself the ability to have that white space so that you can pivot when life throws you hard things.
Lesson #2 – The Need for Boundaries
This is very similar to the last one and that you need the boundaries so that you have the mental time and capacity. But I think a lot of times we think of boundaries as- “okay, I’m going to turn off my notifications and I’m going to not be on my phone as much.” And things like that, which it is absolutely 100% important and a part of this.
But another thing that 2020 taught us about boundaries is that we also need physical boundaries. We need those physical boundaries because when we are stuck inside of our homes, especially in those cold winter months and we can’t get out. We’ve got to have different places in our house that are allocated for different things.
So, if you’re working from home, you need to have a work from home space, even if your desk is nothing more than a TV tray in the corner of your living room. That is your workspace. Here’s the thing about how our brains work. When we have routines, it helps our brain understand what we’re trying to get into, and it helps us snap into focus faster.
So, if you have a TV tray in a corner as your desk, and that’s where you sit to work every single day, as soon as you sit down at that desk to work, your brain is going to say, okay, it’s work mode time. If you have a space where you are homeschooling your kid every single day, as soon as you sit down to do that, your brain is going to think, okay, it’s time to do schoolwork.
You also need a place to relax. That is your relaxing place. Do not work on your sofa. I cannot say this enough, do not work from your couch because your brain is going to get so confused. Am I supposed to be working or am I supposed to be relaxing? And it’s going to be really hard to do either one of them in that space.
Think about how people love to work in coffee shops and how they feel more productive there. That’s because when they go to the coffee shop, yes, there are no longer household distractions, but there are 1,000,001 other distractions in a coffee shop. There’s music playing, there’s people talking, the coffee beans are being ground – there’s noise, right?
It’s not that there’s less distractions it’s that your body know ‘If I’m sitting in this coffee shop, this is a workplace’ and it gets into it. So having these physical spaces and setting up these physical spaces, allows you to transition from mom life to teacher life, to work life easier and faster.
Lesson #3 – The Importance of Incorporating Time AND Energy Management Together
Something that I do with all of my clients is have them track their time so that I can analyze it and know when they’re most productive, when they’re most awake and focused, and we use that information to our advantage. By taking their energy levels into account while planning out how they’ll spend their time, we’re able to ensure that they’re not sitting there butting their head against the wall because it’s Friday and they don’t feel like working anymore, but they’ve still got to finish this hard project and clean their house today. Or something along those lines.
I’ve always helped my clients set up their schedules around their energy management, but 2020 showed us more than ever how important that is.
Here’s the thing: we’re constantly looking for self-discipline and motivation and how to make it better. Yada, yada, yada. And I think that if you’re following that, self-discipline train, you’re lying to yourself essentially. Instead of trying to force yourself to be motivated and to be disciplined, just work with your energy levels. Because if you work with your energy levels, you can get done all the things you need to do.
Again, simplify, prioritize. You can’t do it all. You can do all the things you need to do, and also feel good doing them. You can do the hard things while you’re motivated. And then half the time when you don’t feel like working, don’t work, our energy levels and our energy management this year became more important than ever use that use the way you work, whether you’re a morning person or a night owl. Whether you are most productive in the beginning of the week or the middle of the week or the end of the week. Start paying attention to when you feel your best and plan the harder, more mentally consuming tasks around those times.
Combine your energy management with your time management, and you’re going to see a lot more results.
Lesson #4 – Self-Care > Self- Discipline
It is way more important to set time aside, to care for yourself, to take that step back in order to rejuvenate, protect yourself, protect your energy and time and mental capacity than trying to be self-disciplined and force yourself to do things.
Now, that’s not to say that you never have to do things you don’t want to do. But you’re going to get so much more out of where you’re trying to go so much more out of your time and you’re going to use your time more wisely if you actually take that step back for self care versus trying to push through.
If something’s not working stop, even if that means you’re just stopping for 30 minutes and go take a walk outside, taking that time to step back. And giving yourself some self care and some self love and taking care of you is going to do so much for your work, your parenting, your relationship -everything. Fill your cup first, right?
You can’t pour from an empty cup. So make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is greater than self-discipline. And if you really struggle to find time for self-care, actively plan it into your days. Eventually you won’t need to anymore. It’ll become more natural. But if you really struggle with taking that time for yourself, block out time, every single day to do something for yourself, plan and manage your time around it.
Lesson #5 – We Don’t Need as Much Time as We Think We Do
When I first started my business, it was just a side-hustle. If I was lucky, I was getting maybe 10 to 15 hours a week of work in. Then, when I went full-time, I all of a sudden had the ability to work 40, or 40+ hours a week. At first, it was great, but very quickly I realized that I needed to force myself to cut back on my hours because I was less productive with more time.
When I know I only have so much time, I’m forced to focus on the things that will move the needle, and I get more done. I’m forced to prioritize. We don’t need as much time as we think we do. We can run a business as a solopreneur all by ourselves with no help in 20 hours a week, seriously.
So, if you are worried about how you don’t have enough time to run your business anymore, and you think that you’re behind because you only have 10 hours a week, that’s okay. You probably aren’t getting that much less done than you would be if you had 20 or 30 or 40 hours a week.
And that sounds crazy right. But your work will expand to the time you give it. So give it less time and force yourself to prioritize.
So, if you’ve got less time right now – don’t panic. You have all the time you need to get the important things done. This week’s action step is to start setting aside at least 30 minutes every day to do something for you. And I want you to find me on Instagram – I’m @mrsamandawarfield – and send me a DM and tell me what you’re doing this week for yourself!