If you’re like most leaders, you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of your obligations and responsibilities. You worry that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. And, to help you make the most of those precious hours, you’ve read up on all the time management hacks you can get your hands on.
I’m a proponent of time management hacks, and find that they can sometimes be truly beneficial. There are times, however, when they just don’t work—and that can be frustrating, to say the least.
So what do you do? Here are a few recommended work-arounds.
Forget Time. Manage Energy, Instead.
Time management methods can really break down on those busy, stressful days—the ones where you literally don’t have enough hours to do what you need to do. On days like that, focusing on your time can simply be maddening.
So my recommendation is, don’t. Instead of watching the clock, try monitoring your own energy levels. Consider what you have the capacity to do today, and do it—and when your energy reserves are depleted, devote some time to rest. This is a simple paradigm shift that can help you feel much less intimidated by a burdensome to-do list.
Speaking of which…
Look Beyond the To-Do List
I find value in to-do lists, but I also understand how they might sometimes do more harm than good—causing you to feel anxious about everything that’s on your plate.
That’s why, for years, I’ve also recommended the not-to-do-list. It’s a simple concept: Each day, make a list of the tasks that are neither urgent nor important… the things you frankly don’t have to worry about today. It can be liberating to “let go” of these items, and it can also help you clarify what really needs to get done on your to-do list.
Schedule Your Procrastination
Many time management hacks aim to help you minimize procrastination. That’s very noble, but it doesn’t account for human nature. Simply put, we all procrastinate sometimes. There’s no way to stop it.
What you can do is be methodical about it. Organize your procrastination; schedule it, in little blocks throughout your day. Give yourself permission to goof off a little, but also have structure in place to make sure you get right back on track.
Make the Most of Your Time
My main point in all of this is that flexibility is key—and while time management hacks are great, it’s important to recognize when their usefulness runs out.