OK, time management has been my pride for more than a decade of my career life. As a self-confessed procrastinator, I dove into learning all the time management skills and techniques I could find. Especially when my career was taking me into more self-paced and motivated positions. But the other day I came across the idea that time management was the unsung hero of self-care and I’ll admit, I was left asking, “how!?!” So, the friend is me, but isn’t it always.
Self-Care, a Quick Definition
The dictionary definition of self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” By that definition it seems clear that self-care is a vital and dynamic part of our lives. Yet it continues to be elusive for so many of us.
In recent years the word has even become trendy with its own hashtags to make it easy to find and follow self-care ideas on the internet. We work to pay tribute to the idea with luxurious baths, massages, expensive skincare, mani pedi’s and more. But the truth is those are gifts, above and beyond, extras that may help us feel special. True self-care really is just the simple rituals in our day to day that are prescribed.
Time Management, an Act of Self-Care
How is time management related to self-care? I’ve learned that it is the tool you can use to establish the boundaries that empower you to carve out the moments just for you. It is defined by how you divide and organize your time. When you designate time you are less likely to multi-task. And multi-tasking is the enemy of self-care.
Why is multi-tasking the enemy? Several studies have shown that multitasking only decreases our focus and memory and increases our stress. Check out this article for more interesting finds. I think we can all agree that we don’t need more stress. And that acts of self-care are in an effort to decrease our stress to preserve our physical and mental health.
Time management to the rescue! With time management skills you not only can create more time for self-care acts, but it can also become a self-care act within itself by the peace and poise you gain.
So, what are time management skills? This is where my business brain gets all giddy, but really time management supports all areas of my life. Essentially it is a process, so it can be unique to everyone. But it starts out with a desire to simply not waste time. Such as in goal setting, you must define what it is you want to do. Then break it down into the how you are going to accomplish it.
Goal = use my time wisely.
How? Well, again, it’s going to be unique to you. What skills you’ve jived with and mastered. Here are my top five time management tips that have served me well. As a past corporate climber through to today as a business owner and a work from home mother.
Top Five Time Management Tips:
1. Eat the frog first!
Never heard this saying before? It’s from one of my favorite literary quotations. From Mark Twain, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
“Eat the frog first” inspires a time management method of doing the thing you have been avoiding first. We’ve all had that one task that we just don’t want to do for one reason or another. But the longer we put it off, the harder it becomes to accomplish. If we can just “eat the frog first” we can spend the rest of the day with a sense of accomplishment. Our productivity may even increase without that looming task to bring us down.
2. Use your tech to support you.
Timers along with airplane mode or focus mode on our phones are small acts that can make a huge impact when it comes to time management. Have a task that feels too big or a task that is easy to get lost in, set a 10-minute timer and you might be surprised how much you accomplish before the beeper goes off.
3. Prioritize and minimize your daily to-do list.
Take a few minutes at the beginning of your week to map out your daily to-do lists, but keep those lists small. What are vital, what are important and what are optional tasks? Prioritize those vital and important items. I have a rule that my daily to-do lists cannot be larger than three items. When I do a mind dump onto paper of all that I have to do or would like to do, the likelihood of me actually accomplishing that massive list is slim to none. But when I break out each day with no more than three items, I have a much higher success rate. It also supports time management in that I’m not wasting time being overwhelmed or wondering what I should do with my pockets of time.
4. Be flexible.
Leave wiggle room for the unexpected. Try not to schedule out every hour of the day because life happens and we want to avoid feeling behind. It can be challenging to dig out from that.
5. Under commit and exceed expectations.
Another better business practice that has proven to be transferable to my everyday life — only commit to the bare minimum and then strive to exceed those expectations. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, the bare minimum is all I can achieve, but at least if that is what I’ve committed to, I’m never put in a position to have to break a promise. This guideline helps me manage my time by never committing to more than I have actual time for.
I hope at least one of these tips resonates with you and you are encouraged to try time management as a form of self-care. If you have other tips to add to this list or have experienced time management as self-care, let us know in the comments. The more ideas and experiences we can share, the more likely we are to find the process that works for our individual needs and character.