I have a confession to make…I struggle with time management. There, I said it, and it feels better. Now, I know you're shocked by this if you read this blog, because I teach time management and I have a really great program for getting your time and calendar under control. It works if you work it.
There's the rub, not just for you but for me too.
I've become convinced over the past few years that time management is 5% about having a system that works for you and 95% about the choices you make regarding that system on a minute by minute basis throughout your day.
Here are some choices that I know pull me repeatedly off track.
Saying Yes When I Should Say No
We all are guilty of this one to an extent, and some of us have the disease to please worse than others. I hate to let people down, so I often take on one more project (paid or otherwise) that I have no room in my schedule for. I also often say yes to things that steal my time instead of focusing on the things I know will move me forward in my business (see the next topic for more on that).
Avoiding the Important in Favor of The Urgent
I've been doing this a lot lately, and I even recorded a video blog post about it this month. It's obviously on my mind. Steven Covey covers this brilliantly in his book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." He refers to urgent items as those things that demand your immediate attention and don't serve hour higher purpose for your life and business (like e-mail or a text message). The important items on your schedule and in your life, according to Covey, are those that take you, step by step, to your goals. These are generally much more methodical and boring than the urgent items in my day. They are also the things that make me fist pump and feel great when they are completed. Go figure.
Trying to Cram 10 Pounds of Stuff into a 5 Pound Bag
There are only supposed to be 8 hours in my work day (and truth be told, I'd like to cut that back to 4), but my to do list is generally 10-12 hours long. There's no amount of creative calculating that will ever make that work. I am a highly productive individual and I get more done in a day than most people. I type wickedly fast (my brother-in-law once assumed, listening to me work from another room, that I was joking by just hitting random keys, because no one could possibly type that fast) and I move through my life quickly. I also multi-task too often (which, while a great skill to have, usually means you're not bringing your best self to whatever you're multi-tasking around). This one tends to lead to…
Deliberately Denying My Basic Needs
This starts to happen when I'm truly over committed and overwhelmed. I literally don't eat or take the time to run to the bathroom. My kids are cynical about me because for most of their lives I've said, "I'll be there in a minute, just let me finish this" and not shown up for eons. If I'm sitting in front of my computer when I say it, they just roll their eyes. It really bothers me, but obviously not enough to have changed it. If I wander into my office to "just do a quick check of my e-mail before breakfast," I can literally end up not getting up and actually making breakfast until two hours later (at which time I often just skip breakfast all together and just aim for lunch).
So, where do we (you and I) go from here?
I know this has been a building problem and concern for me over the past few years, and the more my business and speaking career grows, the worse it gets. Here's a list of a few things I'm currently focused on that I think are going to help me. Feel free to steal any of these ideas and see if they work for you as well.
  • I'm delegating more (thanks to may Virtual Assistant Julie McElroy and my web queens Amy Celona and Chelsey Reinkens). You know how to delegate too, you probably just don't do it enough. Ask for (or hire) help.
  • I'm putting myself first (working out or meditating first thing in the morning, before I head into my office).
  • I'm using the tools I have deliberately (like planning my week on Sunday, making a daily to do list, weekly dinner menus, etc.)
  • I'm giving myself a break and learning to listen to my intuition and live more in the moment (because sometimes the things I've planned for that day don't feel like the things I'm supposed to do. I'm becoming willing to scrap my plan if I feel I'm supposed to).
  • I'm taking time every day to reach out and connect (with my clients, potential clients, business associates, friends, etc.)
So, what about you? Is this an area with which you struggle? Do you have some creative and inspiring ways to control how you spend your time? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below. (If you're reading this post through your e-mail, click on the title above to join the conversation).

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Julie Anne Jones is direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.