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We’ve all heard the familiar adage: Failure to plan is planning to fail.

So why do so few people know how to do it effectively?

Look, I know you’re really good at multi-tasking, forcing yourself to focus, sucking it up, and getting stuff done.

OK, maybe that means you wind up working nights and weekends more than you’d like to admit, but, hey, that’s the price of success, right?

There’s a reason they say, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

But, there’s a problem…and you’re probably already starting to feel the effects of it…

Change How You Think About Time Management

When you started life in the professional world – whether inside an organization or running your own business – a pocket calendar and a to-do list were probably sufficient to keep you on track (-ish).

Then as you enjoyed more success and the scope your professional and/or familial responsibilities increased, maybe you added some form of daily schedule to the mix (or not).

But then things started to happen…

Crap!  You realized at the last minute you double-booked yourself…

Dangit!  You completely lost sight of that presentation you’re supposed to do on Tuesday…

…But you promised the family that you could go to the zoo this weekend and you can’t let them down again and that means you’ll now have to squeeze in time to work on the weekend and even if you do manage to go to zoo with the family you’ll be worrying about that stupid presentation the whole time so you’ll have a rotten time anyway and snap at the kids and then you get to Sunday night and all you can think about is how much you dread the coming week and…

ARRRGGHHHH! Make it stop!

In the midst of all that, some Bright Bulb pops up and tells you, “You need to slow down. You’re doing too much.”

(Please don’t slap them. They do mean well. Really.) 

When Your Time Management Tools Quit Working for You…

But the truth is you’ve reached the point where your old planning and time management tools are no longer sufficient to meet the demands on your time.

And, frankly, asking you to simply “give something up,” “hire more help,” or “be more disciplined” is not the answer either.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients is:

I know I’m supposed to make time for reflection and planning, but how do I actually DO THAT?

When I hear this statement, I know exactly what’s happening.

Those old-school time management tools have reached their limit.

It’s time for a new relationship with time.

See, it’s not your fault that things are falling through the cracks or you’re avoiding your calendar like the plague.

Old-school time management strategies have 3 big shortcomings:

  1. They encourage you to slice and dice your time into ever smaller pieces as you try to get your 10 lbs of tasks to fit inside the 5 lbs bag of your calendar. Even looking at the calendar is enough to send your nervous system straight into overwhelm.  So, of course, when you sit down to do the thing, everything takes twice as long as it actually should…if it gets done at all.
  2. Because your calendar is so overwhelming, you start to avoid looking at it. You simply put your head down and focus on the immediate challenge in front of you.  Sadly, this tunnel vision causes you to miss things — both impending problems AND unexpected opportunities — so you wind up either getting blindsided or missing out. (This is the biggest reason people don’t do the kind of planning that they know they should. So you can give yourself a little grace around that right now.)
  3. Old school time management promotes rigidity and discipline — sounds good (not fun, but good) on the surface, right? Here’s the thing: as you step into higher levels of leadership and the scope of your responsibilities increases, your role shifts from “Chief Cook and Bottle-Washer” to “Head Vision Holder and Miracle Worker.”  Said another way, your impact shifts from the amount of stuff you DO to the QUALITY of the leadership vision and crisis management you provide. Which means you actually need MORE flexibility, not less…

In order for you to control your time (as opposed to it controlling you) you need to know how YOU are wired when it comes to time.

You also need a way to keep yourself out of the Overwhelm-Blame Cycle. 

You know what that is right?

It’s what happens when you feel the pressure of overwhelm and then in an unconscious but desperate, mis-guided attempt to stop the overwhelm, you blame yourself for not managing your time better or working faster or being more disciplined.

And when that doesn’t work, you start to blame others for taking too much of your time or wanting too much from you.

(Again, don’t be too hard on yourself if this sounds a little too familiar. It’s not your fault and it’s a normal human reaction.)

You need a built-in strategy to recognize what’s working — we don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water after all…

And you need a way to notice what’s NOT working so you can tweak it to fit your life and your goals minus the painful criticism and judgement.

You need an artful way to handle the “have-to’s” and still have room for the “woohoo’s.”

Finally, you need a simple structure to support you in getting your planning done quickly, efficiently, and effectively in a way that is sustainable over time and prepared to grow with you as you continue to grow.

If you’d like to learn more, join me next week for my newest masterclass, 3 Hidden Reasons Your Calendar Might Be Setting You Up To Fail — and what to do about it.

See you there?