You have read Getting Things Done, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and more. You have purchased untold numbers of time management apps and more pretty Franklin Covey binders that you can count. You have scheduled and deadlined until your eyes felt like they would fall out of your head but you still feel as though time is rushing by and you are not making the most of it. How is it that everyone else manages to get so much done! You still feel accomplished if you get to shove breakfast down your throat as you race out the door leaving a house that looks as though a bomb dropped on it.
The problem is that you are trying too hard to find that one silver-bullet. That “let me take you by the hand” system that you can take word for word, apply to your very specific and personal business life and morph in to a time-management super-hero. Many productivity gurus will claim that their way is the only way and who are you to question? After all – it obviously work for them. Only one issue with that… they are them and you is you! The problem with your problem is that you are searching desperately for something that doesn’t exist and falling prey to the major time management myths. If you knew and accepted these myths I guarantee you will squeeze a lot more productivity out of your day. Or at least feel a lot less guilty!
Myth #1 – There is one system that will work for you.
If you have ever read a productivity system book (come on don’t deny it!). You will know that they all read pretty much like an instruction manual. They could all claim to be the text book for the class titled, “If You Aren’t Accomplishing Something Every Second Of Your Day You Are Lame And Will Never Be Successful.” Many have a slightly threatening tone, “What! You still aren’t getting stuff done you lazy ass!? You must not be doing everything we tell you to in this book!” If you are anything like I was in the early days of trying to find me productivity path, you will treat each of these books like a bible. I truly believed that if only I could follow the system exactly as outlined in the book and do everything they told me to, my life would change. And I felt that way for book, after book, after book. What I found was that there were parts of their systems that were helpful but some of the things I just COULD NOT DO. Instead of acknowledging that the system was failing me, I figured I was just failing at the system. Here’s the secret. You are a person with a lifetime of habits, perceptions and resistances. You are not the same person who wrote the book so it makes absolutely no sense that everything that worked for them will work for you. It’s like expecting a 300 pound non-athlete to suddenly adopt an Olympians diet and exercise program. There is no one system that will work for you “out of the box”. Take the things that work for you, embrace them and let the rest go! Now… doesn’t that feel better?
Myth #2 – The system that works for me now will be the system I use for the rest of my life.
There have been times in my life where I just output like crazy (that’s “output”, not “put out” as my husband read it with a knowing smirk!). I am organized and efficient. I know exactly what needs to get done and the system that I have in place is allowing me to do it all. I am a goddess of productivity. Then – I come to a screeching halt. The first time this happened to me I got really nasty with myself. I had just discovered David Seah’s Printable CEO and oh how I worshipped those spreadsheets. I knew that this was it. This was the system for me and it would work forever and I would never need to use anything else and David Seah rocked my soul. And then it didn’t work anymore. And I beat myself up about it… a lot. I tried really, really hard to force myself to continue on the path that was working so well and every time I strayed I blamed myself. I mean obviously this system was the only good productivity system on the planet right? After all, it turned me in to a Productivity Goddess. It took me a long time to figure out that it wasn’t me. Well it was me that was the problem but not me who was at fault. I am a constant learner, once I master something I want to move on to something new. I need to change things up and you might too. Just because something works for you today doesn’t mean it will still work for you tomorrow. Keep the things that work for you, stop doing the things that don’t and find something new.
Myth #3 – You Must Manage Every Single Minute Of Your Life
I am a huge believer in outsourcing. Huge. But what cracks me up is when folks say, “you must outsource everything that costs less than your hourly rate because you could be using that time to make money”. Now I always use my hourly rate to calculate what I should outsource but it is ONE element of my determination. To use that factor as the only important element is making the assumption that you are earning revenue and making the absolute most out of every minute of your life. I was at a conference recently and this very “famous” speaker was on stage saying, “you don’t still clean your own house do you?? You should be outsourcing that so that you can get the important stuff done!” She was so vehement I felt for a moment like a total loser because I get such pleasure out of scrubbing my kitchen floor. If you can’t sit in front of the TV every once in a while and veg out to “House Hunters” (my personal “go to” veg out program) without suffering paroxysms of guilt, if you can’t feel free to flip through a trashy novel or even wash your kitchen floor… you are using the wrong system. You can’t manage every single minute of your life. You know those gurus in those books that are telling you that they get up at 5:00am and don’t stop producing until they go to bed at midnight? They are lying.
So here’s the thing – read as much productivity crap as you like. Take the stuff that works for you, throw the rest out. When you wake up one day and can’t stand the thought of creating the weekly check-list that has made you so productive for the past 6 months… don’t do it! Look around and find something new that tickles your fancy and shakes up your creativity juices. And for goodness sake don’t feel guilty when you realize that it is 5:00pm and you have done nothing all day but pinned 125 images of your fantasy living room while drinking 20 cups of coffee in different mugs that are all now sitting unwashed in the sink. Time Management is personal, fluid and sometimes highly over-rated.
*Photo by Roby Ferrari
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Location-Independent Entrepreneur & Certified Life Coach, Galahad, Wife, Mum, & Adventurer. Co-Founder of Galahads - The Secret Society for Kick-Ass Women. Founder & CEO of Emily Rose Doll Clothes and Wish Doll Company. Founder & CEO of Laptop Life Lisa. Finding the revenue and results inside every entrepreneur. Mum of a rocking 14 year-old daughter visit her at TheOneAndOnlyEmTV. Lucky wife of her soul-mate and fellow adventurer, Mark. Traveling the world while running four businesses and raising a teenager. Journey from the last 6 weeks? Bahamas to Scotland to England to France to Switzerland, currently hanging in Borgo Val di Taro, Italy. @LaptopLifeLisa