Are You Letting Fear Hold You Back?

This week, you will likely see some spooky ghosts and goblins on your doorstep. However, Halloween isn’t the only time we encounter things that scare us. Some of our fears follow us year round and try to both interfere with our time management, and inhibit us from accomplishing our goals. Unfortunately, it will take more than some free candy to make these scary things go away.

We strive to have excellent time management skills to efficiently work toward our goals. Sometimes, even though we know the steps we need to take in order to reach our target, we let our fears get in the way.  Be careful not to let these three fears stop you from reaching your goals.

1. Fear of The Unknown

Even though we may be dreaming of change, the fact of the matter is, it can be a terrifying concept. The unknown is scary. Sometimes it’s easier to put off taking concrete steps toward a goal simply because the status quo is so familiar. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. If you need help taking that first step into the unknown, look around. You probably aren’t the first one to venture down that path.

2. Fear of Failure

Failure is not enjoyable and in an effort to protect ourselves from that horrible feeling, we sometimes avoid trying at all. If we never try, we won’t succeed, but we also don’t run the risk of failing! This avoidance isn’t something we’re always completely aware of. A common method of failure avoidance is to busy ourselves with so many other things that we can tell ourselves we “don’t have time” to accomplish what we know is really important. Remember: we make time for what’s important to us. Failure, while painful to our ego, doesn’t have to be a dead end, but is rather a necessary pit stop on the way to success.

3. Fear of Disappointing Others

Many of us let other people dictate the way we spend our time. We do things not necessarily because we want to do them, but because we think it’s what others expect of us and we don’t want to let them down. Here is the thing: other people don’t care nearly as much as you think they do. People who are close to you just want you to be happy, and people who aren’t close to you are too busy worrying about how everyone else is perceiving them, that they don’t have time to judge how you’re spending your time. You need to devote your time and energy to tasks that support your own goals, not the goals of others.

Connect with The Time Diet and receive weekly blog and event updates

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Time Management? That’s Debatable

“That’s ridiculous” “You don’t know what you’re talking about” “That’s just not true.”

These could be statements from one of the recent Presidential debates, but you might also recognize them from the internal time management debate we have in our heads all the time. When we don’t want to do something, our responsible side says we need to do it anyway, and our inner procrastinator says to do it later. Consider the following when you’re trapped in a time management debate.

 1.  You Never Regret Productivity

Think about it like this, when we convince ourselves to tackle something now instead of putting it off, we rarely ever say, “Gosh, I really wish I hadn’t done that.” However, when we choose to procrastinate, we rarely say, “That was a wonderful decision.” Use this experience to your advantage.

2.  Imagine the Worst Case Scenario

Rather than think of the benefits of getting work done early, sometimes it’s more effective to think of the problems that come from procrastinating. Think of what the worst possible scenario could be if you put off your work. If that scenario sounds unappealing to you, start the task now to avoid it.

3. Find a Productivity Coach

It’s usually pretty easy to find people in our lives who will encourage and enable us to procrastinate, however, it’s important to find that one friend or colleague who instead tells you to snap to your senses and just start your work. Think of this friend as your “Productivity Coach” who you can call when you are in need of some help in your time management debate. Sometimes just hearing another person weigh in can give your productive side enough of a boost to be victorious.

Connect with The Time Diet and receive weekly blog and event updates

Making Time for Gratitude

Few things kick start our motivation quite like receiving acknowledgement of a job well done. However, it’s easy to get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to express our gratitude to others. Try these simple strategies to make time to say “thanks” on a more regular basis.

1. Make it Simple

Saying “Thank You” doesn’t have to be an overly complex or lengthy task. It does not require a page-long note or expensive gesture of flowers. It’s too easy to let expressing gratitude sit at the bottom of our to-do list when we build it up to be a monumental act. Instead, make it short and simple with a quick email. If you prefer to use a hand-written note, keep a stack of inexpensive note cards in your desk drawer so you won’t have to buy or go searching for one.

2. Make it Immediate

How often have you thought to yourself, “Wow, I really appreciate <insert person>’s work. I should really thank her…tomorrow.” While it’s never too late to express your thanks, it’s easiest and most effective when it’s fresh on your mind. Remember the 5 Minute Rule? If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now. This applies to taking 30 seconds out of your day to let someone know they are appreciated.

3. Make it Regular

When a task is a habit, you don’t have to think about it and you’re more likely to actually make it a part of your day. One of my bosses had “Thank You Thursday” where she made a point to express her appreciation to a different person every Thursday morning. Now, the alliteration in that concept might be more than you can bear, but you get the point. If you can make saying “thanks” just another part of the task, rather than a task on to itself, you’ll find yourself doing it much more often.

Thank you, readers, for making The Time Diet part of your weekly routine. When I first started this business two years ago, I could have never imagined how much it would grow and evolve and that is all thanks to you. You pass along the blogs that speak to you, give me feedback, and refer me to organizations that could use my workshops. I deeply appreciate all of your support!

Connect with The Time Diet and receive weekly blog and event updates

Training Your Eye to See Progress

When we sit down to work, we feel most productive when the task in front of us gets smaller. We thrive on the satisfaction of watching it shrink. But what happens when the task seems to get bigger as we work? This can be a huge de-motivator in our time management if we don’t make a few easy alterations to our expectations.

Changing Your Expectations

These types of expectations aren’t just reserved for working. I discovered a similar scenario when pulling into my driveway yesterday. In Arizona, you need two types of grass on your lawn during the year: summer and winter. The summer grass can withstand the triple digit temperatures, but won’t do well in the winter. When I came home yesterday, I noticed that my front yard was a disaster. All of the grass was brown and it looked like the gardeners were tearing it up. My whole community looked like a barren dust bowl.

To an outsider, it would look like we had a gardening nightmare on our hands. But a trained eye knows better. A trained eye, who has lived in a desert climate, knows that this is a sign of progress. You must let the summer grass go dormant before you over-seed for winter, even though the process might look a little ugly.

Training Your Eye

A trained eye knows what progress looks like, even if the initial stages of progress look a little…messy. Once you’ve completed a big task a few times, you’ll start to recognize what the early signs of progress look like. To an untrained observer, it may look like a messy disaster, but you’ll know differently. You’ll know that sometimes tasks need to look bigger before they can look smaller and that if done correctly, it’s all part of the process.

Patience

This of course takes patience. Sometimes we get frustrated that a task doesn’t appear to be going away and we’ll try to rush the process. Imagine if my community gardeners didn’t get the summer grass out of the way before putting the winter grass down. Initially it might seem that everyone’s lawns look neater, but we’ll be stuck with brown piles of straw when winter hits. Don’t skip steps when completing your big tasks in an effort to make them look “done” faster.

Know that progress doesn’t always look like we think it should and sometimes tasks must seem bigger before they can get smaller and eventually be completed.

Connect with The Time Diet to receive weekly blog and event updates

Stop Setting Yourself Up To Fail

“I’m just not that good at time management.” “I’m not an organized person.” “I’m a born procrastinator.”

These are some of the things I’ve heard people say to account for missed deadlines or a lack of productivity. However, when we attribute our productivity failures to a seemingly unchangeable personal trait, we don’t leave ourselves much opportunity or hope for improvement.

In order to change our productivity trajectory, we must first realize that we have the ability to change it. Otherwise, all of the time management advice in the world doesn’t stand a chance of helping.

Analyze Your Effort

During my time teaching elementary school music, one of my students was almost pulled from my program due to failing math grades. I took him aside and said, “What’s the deal? I know you are a smart and motivated student, but your math teacher tells me you don’t put forth any effort on your math homework.” He replied, “Mrs. Schwartz. I’m bad at math. Why in the world would I waste my time trying when I know I’m bad at something?”

He was stuck in a perpetual cycle. He said he was bad at math, so he put forth little effort…which in turn, made him continue to get worse!

When we label ourselves a “bad time manager” we can’t help but try less. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, and everyone will not be equally stellar at all tasks, but we must take an honest look at whether or not we mask a lack of effort with a label of failure. Instead of saying “I’m bad at time management” tweak your thinking to be, “Time management doesn’t come as easily to me, so I’m going to have to try harder than most to meet my deadlines.”

Change Your Strategy

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Few people would disagree with that famous quote, yet we often let ourselves get trapped in a perpetual cycle of failure anyway. If you’ve tried to manage your time with the same calendar, the same to-do list, and the same strategies for years and they aren’t working, then you’re long over due for a change! Some methods work better for different people. Perhaps the reason you haven’t found time management success is because you’re struggling to use a method that just doesn’t work for you. Try changing your approach instead of instantly labeling yourself a productivity failure.

Stop the Comparison

The quickest way to get stuck in a motivational rut is to compare yourself to others. Having role models is important, but there is a difference between a constructive admiration of someone’s ability, and a constant comparison of yourself to everyone around you. This leads to only seeing the good in others and only seeing the bad in ourselves.

We might beat ourselves up over the fact that our colleague always finishes projects three times faster than we do, or that a friend finds time to be involved in countless hobbies while we struggle to maintain one or two. What we might overlook is that same colleague may never spend time with her family or that friend may be cracking under the stress of all his obligations.

Don’t strive to be better at managing your obligations than others. Strive to be the best time manager you need to be to accomplish your goals.

Connect with The Time Diet and receive weekly blog and event updates