Anna Healy is a life and business coach based in West Cork. She is available for consultations by appointment. Phone Anna on 087-2427848 www.annahealy.ie
There is a lot of talk about time management these days, both in the workplace and in the home. It appears that we have less time than before so we need to manage it better. However, the actual amount of time hasn’t changed – it is still 24 hours in the day – but what we expect from our day has changed.
For me Time management can be broken into three areas: Being prepared, Being mindful and having downtime. In this article I want to focus on Being Prepared.
Time management has never been more important when you are a mother returning to work or when you are starting out a new business or new role in the workplace. Or the person who has been in the same job for a long time and needs to shake it up a bit to declutter the mind. Poor time management can create added stress at work and at home due to feeling overwhelmed by all the things that need to be achieved each day.
So I have decided to give a few tips on time management, some you will have heard before, some might give you that ‘lightbulb’ moment and inspire you to try something a little bit different to make your life easier. Not all suggestions will suit your experience and lifestyle, it is important to do things that suit you and your family.
Can you remember when you had exams and the amount of preparation that you had to do for this? With any activity that you know will cause added pressure to your life, make some preparations in advance. Don’t leave it to the last minute.
Visualise what the week is going to be like for you, identify any areas that might pose a challenge and devise a plan for it. Don’t be too fixed with your plan, be prepared to adapt to any changes that occur during the week, such as an unexpected appointment or cancellation.
Evenings can be a high pressure point for families when homework, bedtimes come in quick succession. Some families cook lots of dinners over the weekend so that they don’t have to worry about cooking during the week. Having a home-cooked dinner that you can take out of the freezer is a godsend!
If you know you have an important meeting on Monday, give yourself the time during the week before to prepare for it. Block time in your calendar. Get the reports done before time, get up earlier to make sure that you are ready. It is hard to recover mentally if you are late or rushed and you are not projecting the right version of yourself.
You can apply the same principles for home life too, keep it simple and systematic. Develop a routine that everyone knows and expects. The goal is to create a stress-reduced (if not stress- free) environment. Avoid ‘lastminute.com’ as much as possible.
To help with your mindset for the day, there are lots of options. Some people swear by meditation in the morning, others writing in a journal to express your thoughts and goals of the day. Practising gratitude in the morning helps create a positive space. Some people like to be the first downstairs to enjoy the peace of the morning in order to clear their head before the ensuing challenges. Some people like to get exercise to help them feel good at the start of the day.
What is important is that do whatever works to improve your situation and makes you feel productive and positive about the day to come.
Benjamin Franklin once said ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’. What one thing are you going to do to improve how you manage your time this week?
Next month I will focus on mindfulness and how it can improve your effectiveness and time management.