What I Learned Teaching a Time Management Challenge

Time Management 101

Two weeks ago, I hosted a Time Management Challenge in the Making Life Work Facebook Group. After polling members, time management and productivity issues were the most pressing issues by a long shot.

I was expecting to focus more on career and job search related issues, but ultimately getting stuff done is pretty key to a job search and taking your career to the next level. Plus, I’m a total nerd for time management/productivity/procrastination hacks so I was really excited to tackle this topic.

Based on the brief survey the Lab members completed, I could tell that folks were feeling overwhelmed, pulled in too many directions and having trouble committing to schedules and new habits.

Not only was it the first challenge in the newly re-branded Lab, it was also my first time using videos in a consistent and strategic way (because, frankly, these videos were not that strategic!).

Each day, I posted a new video. I recorded a few in advance and a few as we went along so that I could provide questions and strategies but also respond to what folks were saying. I also recorded an impromptu video after a day that was decidedly not productive (I’m all about keeping things 100% real over here!). 

While I was excited to share my own practices and tips, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the concerns and issues members expressed and I decided to follow up with a blog post because I learned a lot — and continue to learn a lot when I hear people talk about their struggles with time.

Time management is not really about time at all.

I don’t want to suggest that more time wouldn’t be lovely in certain circumstance (like longer weekends, #amiright?) but more time isn’t going to actually solve a lot of the obstacles that came up for the people in the group.

More time doesn’t help you say no or identify things that are no longer a priority. It won’t help the negative way that you talk to yourself when you don’t accomplish everything that you hoped to.

In fact, I bet if I had “more time” I would just fill my schedule with more “stuff.” My expectations, which occasionally already border on unreasonable, would be set even higher.

When people say that they have “time management” issues or not enough time, they’re usually experiencing procrastination and perfectionism, lack of boundaries, and setting unrealistic expectations for themselves. 

Where are you spending your time? And does it match your priorities? Where can you make some changes to bring your schedule into alignment with your values and priorities?

How you talk about your time matters. A lot.

I work a full time job, I teach college part time and I run this business. I also spend up to 10 hours a week commuting.

When people say they are busy, I totally empathize.

But you know what? I try to never say that I’m busy.

How I talk about my time matters. The reason I have all of these commitments is because they help me meet my goals, one way or another.

When things come up that feel like a priority, I find a way to add them to my schedule.

Or I don’t.

But I take ownership over my schedule.

You’ve probably heard it say that “No is a complete sentence.” And I say “No” quite a bit.

I say “no” to things that don’t align with my priorities by saying and, occasionally, I also have to say “no” to things that do.

Many of my clients feel like they have to provide a rationale for not being able to say yes to things, and talking about how busy you are or how crazy life is right now is a great way to do that.

I’ve stopped saying “busy” and started saying, “I’m committed,” “I’m sorry that doesn’t work for me…maybe next time,” and “I’m working that day.”

Oh and when I take a day off and watch, like, five hours of Real Housewives? I never say that I wasted time.

Because sometimes you just need to take a few hours and chill.

Making a huge difference in how I talk time has made a huge difference in how I feel about my time. Time spent just chilling out is actually quite restorative when I’m not racked with guilt. On the flip side, time spent focusing on my priorities feels great too!

How do you talk about time? What shifts could you make to take ownership over your time and schedule?

You know the saying, “It takes money to make money?” The same is kind of true for time.

On the last day of the challenge, I talked about how I plan my own schedule for both long and short term goals. To be honest, I was pretty embarrassed about showing everyone how much work was involved.

Here’s what I use: two journal/planners, a Moleskine pad where I keep a weekly to do list, a large calendar and a calendar app.

I have monthly sessions where I plan out goals for each month. I do weekly check ins where I make sure that my schedule and to do list align with my goals. If necessary, I cancel or re-schedule anything that gets in the way of a major priority.

I use the Daily Greatness Planner each day. That planner has morning and evening check ins. (You can purchase your own Daily Greatness Planner for a 5% discount by using my referral code. Full disclosure, I get a small percentage from this link. But I absolutely love and recommend this planner!)

So all in all, I probably spend 2 hours a week planning how I spend my time.

Or as I like to think of it, I spend two hours a week planning + strategizing to meet my goals.

Doesn’t that sound like a better use of two hours?

Honestly, I’m not a productivity machine. I don’t crank out great work all day, every day. I pay attention to my natural ebb and flow and try to plan accordingly.

Having regular check ins with myself helps me to make sure that I’m on track OR that I can re-allot my time in a better way.

How are you scheduling yourself now? What’s working? What structure could you put in place so that you can plan your day/week/month?

I hope that these lessons help you consider your own “productivity practice!” Don’t forget to grab your free worksheet below!

Get sh*t done for real!

This free worksheet will coach you through your obstacles + help you create a plan for productivity you can actually implement. What are you waiting for??


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