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How is Time Management Part of Self-Care? Asking for a Friend

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.

Time management as self-care
This little frog timer was a gift to me from one of the most influential managers in my life. It has lived on my desk for many years now as a reminder to set a timer and “eat the frog first.”

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.

Depending on your needs and daily activities, you can even use specific time management software to streamline your day and save you time. For example, if you work using a contract database, whether at home or in the office, AI data management software can allow you to rapidly and accurately collate data, saving you a whole lot of time and effort. 

You can also use scheduling software, both for personal and professional tasks. This stops you from forgetting certain tasks and allows you to work out what you can get done in a day, without wasting time. While you’re at it, make sure you schedule breaks and rest time, so that you ensure you get the breaks your body and mind need. Just make sure that you focus on cybersecurity measures so you are better protected online. You may want to look into using penetration testing to help you identify your vulnerabilities on the Internet and keep hackers away, and if you need specific help such as cybersecurity for a medical business, it’s wise to use that rather than something more generic – you’ll be better protected that way.

If you run your own company and you are spending a lot of time trying to get business leads, you could save time by investing in your advertising. Using Google Ads, Facebook Ads or direct mail advertising can really help you save time and get on top of your time management.

Think of efficiency as a way to buy back more time for yourself.

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.

Managing overwhelm is important for both mental and physical health. Stress takes a toll and it’s important to overall well-being to ensure you are not overcommitting, and that you are doing all you can to keep yourself in check. Any healthcare professional like John R Callen will tell you that you are going to be less stressed if you can manage your time and prioritize yourself by minimizing your to-do list. By doing this, it’s going to be so much better for your health in general, which is exactly what we are shooting for.

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.

Another way to be flexible is to outsource some functions if you have a business. This is because handling every task will burn you out, regardless of how noble your intentions are. Moreover, it may become hard to manage your time when there’s always something to do. Instead, get in touch with freelancers or third-party firms that can take care of specialized functions. For instance, a freelance SEO writer can take over your blog posts, allowing your websites to rank high on Google’s search pages. Likewise, professionals like Mike Golub can take care of your ticket sales if your business involves organizing sports events in your community.

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.

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Nikola Reinfelds

Nikola is a Kansas native that came to Northern Colorado by way of Long Island, NY. After running a successful business in NYC she's confident that the song lyric, "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere" is the truth. However, she faltered big time through the unknowns and isolation of becoming a stay at home mom. She re-found her passion and confidence by helping others be obsessed with the skin they're in through her writing, community, leadership and friendship. Her other passions include being an exceptional partner to her husband, Hagen, a patient parent to her precious children, reading #allththings and getting out in nature as much as possible.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Pam

    Amen. Time Management is the only way I can accomplish certain tasks. It’s amazing what can be done in your 30-45 minute span. At the end of day, oh the sense of accomplishment!

    1. Nikola Reinfelds

      Yes! That feeling of accomplishment is worth bottling to open during challenging times.

  2. Bonnie

    I am going to start trying a couple of these tips Nikola. I am good a flexibility, making a list and prioritizing (sometimes). Keeping my to do to 3 a day — WOW! and keep expectations low – WOW ! I am more than ready for some self care time management. Thank you!

  3. Nikola Reinfelds

    Yay, Bonnie!!! I’m so glad to hear it and that this resonated with you. I’m excited for what is ahead for you with self-care time management.

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