How Impatience Can Derail Time Management Goals

time management patience“A watched pot never boils.” I was reminded of this saying tonight as I waited impatiently for my pasta to cook so we could eat dinner. “Why is this taking so long??” I muttered.

Then I realized that the “watched pot” is like so many other tasks we have in our world of instant gratification, and that patience can hold great value for our time management. Here are three ways to be patient as you move through a lengthy to-do list.

1. Keep track of small steps of progress

We live in an age where we want to see results now. (5 minutes ago would be preferable.) This makes it difficult to devote time to longer tasks that will take a while to complete. Celebrate small successes and keep track of stepping stones of progress. That will keep you motivated.

2. Keep your eye on the goal

Do you remember why you’re working so hard? Before you get frustrated and give up, reconnect with that you want your end goal to be. I would say to remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but I’ve already used one cliché in this blog so far and I think that’s sufficient.

3. Remind yourself of past experiences

If abstract future goals are not motivating you, tangible past examples can be helpful. Remind yourself of a time when patience paid off. For me, I always think back to when I started my PhD four years ago and thought I would surely fall off that steep mountain before ever reaching the top. Now that I’m so close, that motivates me to finish pretty much anything on my to-do list!

What is your “watched pot” that you’re frustrated with right now as you wait for it to boil? Don’t give up just because you think the end is not in sight. Keep plodding along, be patient, and don’t stop!

Connect with The Time Diet for more time management tips

Which Type of Procrastinator Are You?

We all put things off from time to time, but how to kick the habit depends on why and how you procrastinate. Which of the following 3 procrastinators are you?

The Dare Devil

Time Management DaredevilDare Devils thrive under pressure and live for the thrill of a last-minute crunch time. They find it difficult to stay motivated until the last possible second so they put off their work until the deadline is looming. Then, they work like crazy, forsaking sleep, food, family time, etc…promising themselves they will never do it again.

The Solution

One reason people thrive under pressure is it becomes easier to tune out distractions during crunch time. Are you more likely to check your email and glance at Facebook when you’re working on an urgent deadline or non-urgent one? Exactly. Remove distracting Time Killers so they don’t tempt you. Then you’ll be able to work with the focus of an urgent deadline without having to actually live so close to the edge.

Time Management ProcrastinatorThe Rationalizer

Rationalizers are experts at convincing themselves that their work doesn’t have to be done right now. They will find excuses, make bargains with themselves, or downplay the importance of a deadline.

The Solution

Excuses are harder to make when your goals are staring you in the face. Why are you working so hard? Who inspires you? What are you trying to achieve? Make sure the answers to those questions are top of mind when you’re working. Post your goals near your workplace. Seek out people you admire and constantly remind yourself of the important motivators that drive you.

The Overwhelmed Ostrichtime management ostrich

Sometimes we have tasks that are so monstrous, it seems we never have time to start them. When we see the task on our to-do list we skip right past it, hoping it will just go away if we don’t look at it – the time management equivalent of burying your head in the sand.

The Solution

Break a large task into tiny chunks and write those chunks down on your to-do list. Don’t even write the big task at all. It’s too intimidating. Then rejoice in the satisfaction of crossing those little chunks off one by one. This helps accomplish large tasks in 20 or 30 minute time periods since realistically, you can’t always devote a whole day to accomplishing a huge task.

Connect with The Time Diet for more time management tips

Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

Are You Sabotaging Your Goals Before You Start?

Time Management Goal SettingDo you share your goals or keep them to yourself? Your answer to that question might affect whether you achieve your goals or abandon them in the graveyard of good intentions.

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy telling people about your goals because it adds accountability. My Facebook feed is evidence that I am not alone in this belief. Scrolling through my updates on January 2nd, I was faced with countless goals, promises, and resolutions from my friends of everything from weight loss, to business aspirations, to habit breaking. In my time management seminars, I advocate for loud and proud goal-sharing as a way to strengthen your motivation, commitment and accountability. It worked for me, I’ve seen it work for other people, and I believe in the benefits.

Then I came across this TED talk about goal setting that caused me to question my belief. Essentially, Derek Sivers says that telling people about your goals makes you less likely to achieve them because the act of articulating your intentions satisfies your desire to follow through with them. In other words, telling other people you’re going to get organized makes you feel more organized, and therefore have less of a sense of urgency to actually get organized.

Interesting.

I find it difficult to accept that goal sharing is never useful, because as I said, I’ve seen it work countless times, but Derek presents a strong case. Instead, I offer these tips to share goals effectively.

1. Tell Your Friends How to Help You

When we share our goals, the assumption is that the people you tell can help you. Don’t just assume. Ask for a specific action. For example, instead of telling your friend, “I’m going to exercise every day,” say “I’m going to exercise every day, and if you ever hear me complain about it, please pull me off the couch.” Or “I’m trying to grow my business this year, so when you see me, please ask how it’s going to keep me accountable.”

2. Find a Friend With A Similar Goal

Friends and family are great support networks, but sometimes the best support comes from people who are working toward the same goal as you. Seek out friends and family who are striving to accomplish the same things and ask if you can sit down together and develop a plan. This provides both support and accountability.

3. Share the Results

If you’re afraid that public goal setting will make you less motivated to follow through, start with just sharing your results. When you accomplish a goal, no matter how small, tell your close friends and family. Sometimes we’re afraid to do this lest it be construed as bragging, but there is a difference between bragging and celebrating. Telling a friend what you accomplished, and what you plan to do next can provide support and encouragement to keep going. For example, “I finished this week with an empty inbox! Next week, I’m going to work on staying more focused while I’m working.”

Incidentally, it is my one of my goals, to give a TED talk some day (similar to the one in the video above), but I suppose now that I’ve told you about it, I can kiss that dream goodbye!

Got a comment? Leave one! I’d love to hear it.

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

Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

What Marathon Are You Running Today?

Time Management MarathonWhen was the last time someone gave you a medal for a job well done? We don’t always get a chance to celebrate the results of our hard work, but when we do, it is certainly a feeling to relish. Just because we don’t always get a trophy, or a certificate, or even a pat on the back in recognition of our work, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our successes on our own and reward the time we’ve put in to make it happen.

Today, I had the distinct pleasure of watching some of my friends run the PF Chang’s Half Marathon in Phoenix. I am not a runner, but I do bring a high level of sideline enthusiasm. As I watched them run past mile marker 11, closing in on the finish-line, I thought back to all of the time they had put into training – all of the early morning runs, the hours spent at the gym, and the afternoons spent resting their sore legs on the coach. I imagined how accomplished they felt as they neared closer and closer to finally crossing that finish line that had lingered in front of them through months of training.

I thought about how we’re all running our own marathons in our lives. We’re all working hard each day toward something. We’re all making sacrifices with our time, planning out our work schedule, and wondering how long it’ll be until we reach our goals. But, unlike a marathon, sometimes those goals and the paths to get there are vague and undefined.

Define Your Finish Line

The finish line of a race is very clearly marked, but what about other successes in our lives? How do we know that we’ve ever “made it” and that our hard work has paid off? Nebulous goals like “success” need tangible check points so we can both keep track of our progress and also give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. If you never take your nose away from the grindstone long enough to celebrate your successes, you may find yourself burned out long before you get where you thought it was you wanted to go.

Develop a Training Plan

If you want to run a marathon, there is no shortage of training plans available to help you prepare for a race of that magnitude. However, sometimes your path might be less trodden and more difficult to figure out. That doesn’t mean you can move forward without a plan. A novice runner seeks advice from an expert before developing a training schedule, and you similarly will save yourself time and energy by seeking advice from someone who has experience in whatever it is you want to do.

Bring Your Cheerleaders

When I asked where I should stand as a spectator at the half marathon, I was told to stake out a spot somewhere during the last two miles, because that’s when the runners need it most. Sure enough, when I asked my friend about the race, she told me that she had wanted to start walking, but knew I was going to be standing at the next mile marker and wanted to be running when she passed me. Our friends keep us going when we want to quit. Their encouragement motivates us and keeps us smiling. However, we can’t forget to ask for the support. I am not a marathon runner. I don’t really see it as a spectator sport and would never have thought to come stand on the sidelines, but my friends asked me to and I was more than eager to help out.

Whatever marathon you are training for in life right now, set yourself up for success with the right tools and cross the finish line with a smile.

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

Photo Credit: Free Digital Photos.net

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

Beating the February Blues

Well Time Diet readers, we all made it through another February. Is there something intrinsically un-motivating about this month or is it just me? Maybe that’s why it only has 28 days, because making this month any longer would just be cruel and unusual punishment. It’s a weird month. The “magic” of the winter/holiday season has officially worn off. Our excitement about our New Year’s resolutions has faded away and we are just ready for spring to get here and for it to stop being so cold. As a teacher, I really feel it because if there is anything worse than trying to motivate yourself through a slump, it’s trying to motivate a bunch of 10 and 11 year olds who seem to also have a major case of the “February Crankies.”

Finding the Motivation for Time Management

So what are we to do? We can’t reasonably expect ourselves to be 100% motivated all the time, but when we fall into a slump like this, productivity falls off the deep end. We become unfocused and our work seems to take three times longer to complete and that only worsens the situation. Unfocused work can throw your whole Time Diet off!

This is the perfect time to restate your goals. We’ve all heard the quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” I believe that a plan without a goal is just as bad. Why are you going to work every day? What are you trying to accomplish? Having a clear-cut goal gives your day direction and keeps you on the right track. It’s not good enough to simply have goals. You have to constantly remind yourself of them. I recommend writing your goals down and posting them in a prominent place so you see them frequently throughout the day.

I revisited my goals this week, wrote them on a piece of paper and posted them on my desk. I wanted to share with you what I wrote on my paper:

Emily’s Goals

1. Be “Dr. Schwartz”

2. Treat each of my students like they are my favorite student

3. Book 20 new Time Diet presentations in the next 12 months.

4. Save enough money to buy our dream home

5. Finish my book

6. Make band the most meaningful part of my students’ education

Writing these all out caused me to reflect on why I do everything that I do. It gave my day purpose and led to the most focused, inspired day of work I’ve had in a long time. A lack of focus is the enemy of time management. Having defined goals is the first step toward regaining that focus.

So what are your goals? Make a public commitment to one of your goals by sharing one either in a comment or on Facebook. I can’t wait to hear what you’re working toward!

Did you enjoy today’s blog? Click Here to join The Time Diet mailing list and have weekly blog updates delivered straight to your inbox!

“Like” The Time Diet on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.