When my clients first come to me, many are stressed out and overwhelmed because they’ve taken on too much.

They underestimate how much time it’ll take to accomplish their goals. They’re perplexed about how they could ever find time for themselves among their many obligations to family, work, and community.

If you’re like I used to be, you might be seeking the magic bullet of time management.  Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say that I have yet to find anything that will suddenly give you an extra two hours every day.

Time management is less about apps on your phone or calendars on your computer and more about consciously choosing priorities.

The math of time management is quite simple. To reduce stress and be productive, you need to learn how to set realistic expectations, give yourself enough time for what’s most important, and say no to everything else. It’s an equal sum equation—match your goals with the time you have.

Over-planning and hoping that you can do a good job without taking the time necessary is unlikely to make you faster. In fact, underestimating how long things take is likely to lead to lower confidence and higher stress, which will slow you down over time.

If you feel chronically behind or disappointed by what you have yet to accomplish, I encourage you to do a time analysis for the next week or so.

A time analysis entails keeping track of everything you do and how much time it takes to do is so that you can become aware of how you’re investing your time. An app that makes time analysis easy is Toggl; just press a button to record the time that certain tasks take. At the end of each day, reflect on the following questions—

  • How long did it take to accomplish each task today?
  • How close did I come to accomplishing my goals?
  • Did I learn that I need to allocate more time than I had estimated? How much more?
  • Do I need to say no to anything this week or in the future?
  • Do I need to alter my goals in any way for the coming week?

At the end of the week, use what you learn from your time analysis to plan your week ahead, and continue to track your time until you are in the habit of giving yourself enough time for each task.

Managing your time for both ease and effectiveness is simple, but it’s not easy. It’s not about adopting someone else’s prefab strategy; it’s about paying attention to what works for you and doing more of that.

Heart-centered time management requires a fierce commitment to your vision for your life, a keen awareness of how you spend your time, and the willingness to be consciously flexible.

It requires that you occasionally say no both to people you care about and to activities you enjoy. It requires emotional courage.

I’d love to hear what came up for you as you did your time analysis, and I invite you to share any insights or questions below! And, I invite you to click here to learn more about executive coaching and how it can help you achieve your goals.


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