People ask me–a lot–about “balance.” Time management. Wanting to get their shit together.
They ask me how in the world I do what I do–not in a creepy fan way, but in a simple, “I’d like to get some information on how you manage to rock this out” kind of way.
How do I, on a regular basis, launch successful e-programs, work with amazing clients, consult for other life coaches, teach classes or lead marketing seminars? And interview Brene Brown, or any of these other amazing people?
How did I, in the Fall of 2012, launch The Coaching Blueprint–while planning my wedding? How have I managed to run a business and do all of these things–while training for endurance events? Completing 30-day Bikram yoga marathons?
Do I really meditate…daily?
Do I have no friends? Do I have no life? What has to “give” in order for this to work?
First things first: my time is important to me. I make no apologies for that. Life is short, and this is the only go-around that I’m conscious of, so it’s going to be used in the way that I want to use it.
Years ago, when my own time management boundaries were skewed, I would read someone’s declaration that their time was important and that they expected the people they did business with to treat it that way, too. I’d think:
“How arrogant. How rigid. As if they’re so perfect they can’t be bothered to reschedule something!”
Now, I get it. I had that reaction as a defense because my own integrity with time and priorities was messed up.
Now, I understand that it’s not the one person or incident who treats your time like it’s as flexible as fresh taffy that will bury you–it’s the fifth or tenth person or situation. On the outside, looking in, you don’t see that about someone’s life until you’re in the same position. People who set time management boundaries aren’t rigid–they’re practicing self-care.
Not a single time management boundary that you put into place will work until you get this:
This is your life. This is your time. That’s it.
As in, finite–that’s IT.
When your time is up, your time is up. So how do you want to live? And are you seriously going to allow people to waste your time by constantly rescheduling things and not delivering what they said they’d deliver, and then saying you’re the arrogant asshole when you (kindly) say that that doesn’t work for you?
Respect your time. That’s how others learn to respect it. They take their cues from you.
Click to tweet that: http://clicktotweet.com/8U9Pu
Once respect for my time is clearly on the table, here are the specific time management strategies that I use.
#1: Batch-processing. This is my favorite, and the most effective. I don’t schedule my life by the hour, but I do look at what absolutely needs to get done, and then I reserve chunks of time for doing it. Two-three hours is about all I need to get several blog posts written.
#2: I work within my strengths. If you’re thinking, “Only two to three hours to write several blog posts?” then writing is probably not your natural strength–but something else is. Do the things that come naturally to you, the things that you enjoy. Do I have a life? Yes. Writing is my life.
#3: I use the “two chance” rule. If I have two interactions with someone that indicate a lack of accountability, I generally suggest that right now isn’t the right time for us to work together. They’re not bad, and I’m not trying to punish them–I’m trying to respect my time. By the time that I’ve had two interactions with someone where agreements or commitments aren’t being kept, it simply isn’t effective to plan more–especially if the experiences indicating a lack of accountability have happened back-to-back.
#4: My phone is on silent, 99.9% of the time. This means that I am rarely interrupted by texts or phone calls. My email application is closed most of the time that I’m working. I’m not logged on to social media or Skype automatically.
#5: Yes, I meditate daily (most days). I don’t call it “meditation,” though. I call it creating stillness, and I start my day with it before anything else can intrude. Creating time to get quiet = clarity and more peace, which equals better time management.
#6: I train for endurance events because I love to do it, and it blows off some of the stress/steam that I would otherwise encounter from what is admittedly a busy, fast-paced life where something’s always going on. Do I have a life? Yes. Training for endurance events is my life.
#7: I schedule days with absolutely nothing going on. I need unscheduled time for rejuvenation. My idea of heaven is a day with no agenda.
#8: I make a point of setting up one dinner date with friends, each month. We might also see one another again, but I prioritize that dinner date the way that Carrie and co. prioritized their weekend brunches on Sex and the City. With that said? I make it clear to my nearest and dearest that if they need me, I’m dropping everything and I’m there–no questions asked.
#9: My man and our life together is one of my biggest priorities. We typically have a “date morning” grabbing coffee together at least once a week, prior to starting work. We almost exclusively reserve Saturdays for spending time together.
#10: I don’t sweat the small stuff. Sure, sometimes I’m behind, but I don’t get into the mental drama of that. Because seriously, what’s more of a waste of time than realizing that you’re behind on something and then stressing out with an internal shit-storm about how you’re behind on something?
#11: I put to-do’s on my calendar–like paying bills, invoicing clients, etc. Otherwise, I forget. Having a day of the month reserved for balancing my checkbook is the only way to ensure that I’ll actually do it.
#12: If I pay for it, I use it. Seriously–this is a time management strategy. If I hire a consultant to teach me something that I need to know for my business, I make sure to invest the time into learning it, so that I can use it. For example, I’ve probably listened to the .mp3s from any consulting sessions I’ve paid for, 5-10 times apiece. I’ve read Tim Ferriss’s “Four Hour Workweek” five times. I don’t buy books, programs, courses, etc., that I won’t use–because it’s a huge waste of my time to buy something that’s supposed to help my business or my life, and then not actually implement it. It’s a good use of my time to review and re-review things I’ve purchased when I can learn more from them and continue to refine what I do.
Speaking of hiring consultants–don’t ever hire someone without a clearly defined objective or goal for the session. When I work with coaching clients or consulting clients, it’s clear from the get-go that there is a focus for our time together, because we’re not hanging out and chatting–we’re making things happen.
YES–I have my flake out moments, too! I’m imperfect and mess up and forget things, amid this busy life. So here’s what I’ve gotten really good at:
I have zero hesitations about apologizing. Sometimes, I forget to respond to something, take care of something, or deliver something I’ve promised to someone else (eep!). I apologize when that happens and take full ownership and responsibility.
I say how I’ll right the ship–specifically, and directly–because I know how I’ve felt when I’ve been on the receiving end of an apology that ran something like, “Oh, gee. Sorry that didn’t get done. That’s my apology.”
The “righting the ship” part is particularly important to me; it’s an acknowledgment that I understand that when I don’t make good on my commitments, that does affect others, and that I understand that lack of accountability is lack of integrity.
Where You Go From Here
For the people who want to start prioritizing what truly matters? The Courageous Living Program is for you. Sign up on this list to get info when a circle opens up.
For the people who run a business who need direct strategies for saving time? You want–you need–The Coaching Blueprint. There’s an entire module on workflows that gives you the essential tools, software, and organizational practices that will streamline your businesses’s practices.
Speaking of implementing what you pay for–how about implementing something that’s free?
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