“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.
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