The path to productivity is often littered with roadblocks, and many folks deal with some of the same problems. For the next two articles, I’ll be addressing six common time management stumbling blocks that can stymie even the most hard-working and ambitious of us!
1. ADHD and Executive Function Issues:
It’s not unusual for people who struggle with time management to have underlying causes, such as ADHD or Executive Function issues. Many times, they go hand in hand. If you find that you are having a hard time keeping track of time, estimating how long things will take, are easily distracted or find yourself hyper-focused on tasks to the point that you’re losing track of how much time you’ve spent, organizing your physical paperwork, following multi-step directions, or have a hard time breaking larger projects into smaller, linear steps, you may be struggling with ADHD or Executive Function disorder. If you suspect this may be an issue for you, there are many treatments and techniques available to help. Look to excellent resources such as CHADD(Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), and ADDitude Magazine.
Are you a perfectionist? Does everything have to be done to exacting standards – all labels perfectly aligned, all folders in a specific color, all containers matching your decor to designer standards? If you can’t do it perfectly, it’s not worth doing, right? So the project never gets finished because you can’t bring yourself to follow through. It’s never good enough, so why bother trying? And the clutter builds, you spend your time spinning your wheels because you can’t find what you need, your frustration climbs, and you’re still wasting time, money, and fighting stress.
As a reformed perfectionist, I have a mantra that I’d like you to repeat when you find yourself sinking into the mire of perfectionism: “Done is better than perfect.” Half-finished organizing projects will not gain you more time or relieve your stress. In fact, they may cause you more stress, because having half-finished stuff hanging over your head will just make you feel worse. Perfectly printed labels on empty file folders sitting in an unused filing cabinet next to a desk piled high with papers won’t help you find anything any time soon. Scribble the file names on the folder, sort through the paperwork, get it into the files and into the cabinet. Someday you will have time to print out those perfect labels. But if someday never comes, at least you can function efficiently and get stuff done in the meantime!
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” (Michael J. Fox)
3. Too Much To Do:
Does that endless to-do list just keep growing? Are there items that have been lingering for weeks, months, or even years? Are you running out of time every single day for the crucial stuff that really needs to get done, because you’re getting bogged down in the small stuff? Take a REALISTIC look at your to-do list. Take a few moments and put a time estimate next to each item, estimating how long you think each item will take to complete (a ballpark figure will do – this is not an exact science!) Then add up all of the time involved to accomplish every single thing on your list. Take a good look at your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. Is there realistically enough time to get everything done?
Many of my clients come to the startling realization that, even if they worked on it every single minute for the rest of their potential time here on earth, all of the stuff on their list cannot possibly be accomplished in their LIFETIME, let alone leave any time for things like health, family and enjoyable, leisure activities! Sometimes, this can be due to perfectionistic tendencies. And sometimes, we have a hard time realizing that much of what we can do either doesn’t really need to be done, can be done by someone else (there’s that “D” word – DELEGATE,) or isn’t relevant to how we’re living, or want to be living our lives anymore.
Be realistic, and be kind to yourself. If you’re constantly running out of time for what’s important, take a second look at your to-do list and your calendar. Delete, delay, and delegate as necessary.