Time management is the new black

By in Development, Leadership, Opinion
Learning’s from my journey in mastering time management

Time is a hard resource to master. Several years ago, I constantly battled time management (or lack thereof) and I was running myself ragged. I decided to take control and end that battle for good.

While I consider myself to be organised, my time pressures were associated with having no clear boundaries on work, life and other ventures in my life, such as volunteering on Boards.

I started by setting clear goals for my time, by thinking strategically on how to achieve them.

Stepping outside my time zone

But I recognised I needed help. At first, I reached out to those I knew and felt comfortable with (and all were helpful). However, I realised I needed a diverse group to develop. I asked my connections if they could introduce me to their connections, who possessed specific skills or knowledge that I identified I needed.

Speaking to people who had similar roles or pressures and asking them how they juggled these really assisted. I always have a time frame for everything, so I gained insight on how others managed time and then applied realistic abilities to myself.

Being mindful of how I spent my time, I soon recognised that I was wasting time on things that weren’t urgent, needed or beneficial.

  • I started making changes by purposefully prioritising the things I wanted or needed to do
  • I began allocating time for others.

The results were immediate! In the short term, I was able to write a white paper and started to see new doors opening.

I was both amazed and humbled at how generous people were with their time.

I set myself the goal of meeting and speaking to new people to continue my growth. The biggest learning was that as long as I was flexible, each and every request was met – which blew my mind!

During my quest, it became clear that one of the most valuable resources we all have is our time and how we manage it.

Time is a two-way street

In response to everyone’s generosity, I made a commitment that if anyone approached me for time, I would reciprocate, like others did for me.

It began as a way of paying it forward. However, I soon realised the benefits of these interactions flow two ways. Offering people my time reconfirmed my love of working with people and influencing change.

I saw major positive influences within myself, both personally and professionally.

I soon realised I could fit in more activities like mentoring, volunteering and coffee catch-ups when I was more mindful of not ‘wasting’ time.

Re-framing time to real life

Originally, I would consider the length of time a task would take and make a commitment. I learned to consider all my commitments and the variables that affected the deliverable – real life!

Now, if I need to review a document for a volunteer organisation and estimate it will take a week; I check how long I can actually take and schedule this in with my other commitments. I mixed and matched activities and balance some one-off tasks with ongoing projects.

This means I haven’t crowded my week trying to do everything at once and it gets done.

Changing my approach has helped and certainly made things far less stressful for me and those who support me.

Rather than try to create more time, I changed my mindset and committed myself to reviewing how I was using this precious resource.

Surprisingly, through my experiences and networks, I found other people with similar approaches to time. My activities, self-development and friendships continued to grow, as I tried to master time management.

Slow down time

It’s true that time is fleeting and many of us just don’t seem to have enough of it in a day.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the magical answer on how to create more of it. In fact, I don’t think anyone does – there are still only 24 hours each day.

Previously I tried to do it all, which not surprisingly didn’t work! So, I reset the clock (pun intended) and tried a slower approach, something which is not natural to me.

Managing my time is not something I’m able to set and forget! I purposely review where I am at and plan for busy periods and quieter times. It’s not a perfect science, but my focus on time management is something I value and believe makes a difference.

While I don’t believe I have mastered my time, I am certainly using it more wisely and find new ways to always make time for the things that I’m passionate about.

So, if you have time or can find time to assist others, reach out to areas of interest and see where it gets you! What time management wisdom have you learnt and could share?

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