How I Wasted 10 Months Before This 5 Minute Solution

Time management face palmWe’re all brilliant and capable people, but is your desire to do things yourself actually wasting time? This week I finally realized that a trivial thing I was trying to fix myself was really only a 5-minute job when I had the proper resources. Go ahead and read the Schwartz Saga of the Vacuum and see if you can relate…

The Saga of the Vacuum

November 2012: Buy first Dyson vacuum. Rejoice at its amazing cleaning power and cheap Black Friday price.

January 2013: Vacuum stops working. Dan and Emily are sad. Go back to using old vacuum for the time being.

February 2013: Emily pokes at the vacuum trying to figure out what’s wrong with it. Has no success. Leaves it for Dan.

March 2013: Dan fiddles with vacuum. Does the same things Emily tried but with more sound effects and angry noises. Has no success.

April- October 2013: Place Dyson vacuum in increasingly awkward and in-the-way places in the house, hoping that one day we’ll be tired of tripping on it and figure out how to actually fix it.

November 2013: Emily Googles “How to fix the brushes on my Dyson vacuum.” Retrieves an awesome YouTube video that reveals the secret button to press and screw to turn that makes this problem go away in less than 5 minutes.

November 2013: Emily is revered as a repair goddess in her home by her husband and two adorable puppies (this last part may or may not be factual.)

And there you have it. I waited almost a year with a broken vacuum because I didn’t want to ask someone else how to fix my problem. What problems are you putting off because you’re too proud to ask for help? What processes are taking you twice as long because you haven’t sought out the right resources?

What can you do THIS WEEK to take care of a problem you’ve been putting off? Ask an expert, get a friend’s help, seek your colleague’s advice. Make this the week that you find a better way!

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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.

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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.

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