How To Solve Your Time Management Dilemma Over Lunch

Time Management LunchHow many times has this happened to you? You’re at your wits’ end with a project. You know you’re wasting time going around in circles, but you don’t know what step to take next and in which direction. You know you should probably ask for help, but you don’t know who, where, or how, so you simply don’t, and continue the frustrating cycle. Sound familiar? Here is how I broke the cycle this week:

This week, I had a fabulous lunch with a dear friend that turned into a time management coaching session…for both of us. I’ve been going out of my mind the past few weeks as I’ve started to feel the pressure to tie up a million loose ends before Baby Schwartz makes her appearance. My friend was frustrated with a portion of a research paper that wasn’t coming together in a neat and tidy way.

Even though neither one of us could magically take away the other person’s frustration, it was immensely helpful to talk through it and brainstorm solutions. We both left feeling much more confident in our abilities to accomplish our goals. Here are three tips to do the same:

1. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re frustrated

Sometimes we’re afraid to ask for help or admit we’re stuck because we’re afraid of looking stupid or admitting weakness. It takes a strong person to articulate frustration and seek resources to solve a problem. Friends can be that resource.

2. Don’t just vent, look for solutions

Venting and complaining can bring a temporary sense of relief, but it doesn’t actually solve anything. After a brief complaining session, steer the conversation toward brainstorming solutions that can evolve into an actual plan.

3. Share your successes

Follow up with your friends and let them know what worked and what didn’t work! This is less for your friend’s sake, and more for yours. It helps celebrate your successes and focus on positive improvements instead of negative problems.

Finally, I recommend having these conversations over delicious food or coffee. The helpfulness of that factor simply can’t be overlooked 🙂

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We Are All In This Together

We have a tendency of getting so wrapped up in our time management troubles that we sometimes forget that many of these troubles are not unique to our lives.

I find it fascinating that there is a set of shared experiences that so many of us go through on a daily, weekly or yearly basis.  When we get entrenched in the stress of our lives, it’s important to step back and realize, “Many others have gotten through this and so will I.”

This weekend I attended a baby shower for my one of my good friends. At one point in the afternoon, I found myself stepping back and surveying the scene in the living room. Here was a group of moms and dads, both new and “experienced,” commiserating on their shared set of experiences of being a parent. The new grandmas were giving the new moms advice on getting through the first few months of 2am feedings and making time for themselves.

There was a definite feeling of “we all got through and so will you because it’s worth it.”

I realized how important it is to seek out these sorts of experiences in our lives lest we feel like we are struggling with our time and stress management problems all by ourselves.

Talking with other doctoral students is always refreshing because it reminds me that we are all struggling with making time for the same sorts of things. Looking at my Facebook newsfeed today reminds me that no matter how much we all say we’ll get our taxes done early, there will still be a significant contingent of people all scrambling this week to finish up.

The next time you catch yourself worrying about how in the world you’ll find time for X,Y or Z, take comfort in the fact that you aren’t anywhere near the first person to have that dilemma. Reach out and find those people. They might not make the work happen faster, but they will give you the motivation of knowing it’s possible.

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Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Savit Keawtavee