We all lose track of time occasionally. You take a quick break to scroll through your phone and suddenly it’s 30 minutes later and you’ve advanced five levels on your favorite game. You run into a store meaning to grab one thing and leave an hour later with a full bag. Maybe you get so wrapped up in a work project that you don’t even notice when you miss lunch… and dinner.
Those strange little time lapses are normally no big deal. Once you shake yourself off and check the clock, it’s easy enough to orient yourself back in time and “catch up” to everyone else. But right now, nothing’s normal—including your perception of time.
If you feel “out of time,” or like time is distorted, it’s not because something is wrong with you. It’s because the pandemic really has affected how we experience the passage of time.
A lot of us felt this intensely early on in quarantine. It seemed like March lasted for about 90 days. (Later, somehow, April flew by in about 15 days.) If you were lucky enough to be able to shelter in place at home, do you remember an eerie sameness about those days? It was tough to distinguish between a Tuesday morning and a Friday afternoon. There were no weekly happy hours or Saturday soccer games or Monday yoga classes to give shape to our lives. Days felt strangely compressed or strangely long. We were all living through a very scary version of “Groundhog Day.” Because it came on with almost no warning, none of us was prepared to make that shift.
Since then, we’ve missed out on so many markers of time.
Most of us haven’t been attending birthday parties, weddings, and other special events. Maybe your annual July 4th party didn’t happen this year. Maybe you’re a passionate baseball fan who didn’t get to visit your local stadium for a single game this summer. All those activities that would normally help us orient ourselves in time, simply didn’t happen.
So, yes, if you feel like you’re experiencing the passage of time in a strange way, it makes complete sense. But the fact that time perception is strange for everyone right now doesn’t help you knock out your to-do list. It doesn’t help you move forward with your goals. It doesn’t help you get closer to living the life that you daydream about.
How Can I Master Time Management Right Now?
I’ve heard from clients that, because we’re so far into the pandemic, they feel like they should have adjusted by now. Like it was okay to be unproductive and have poor time management during those first brutal weeks, but they should have pulled it together by late 2020.
I know that feeling disconnected from time is not conducive for productivity, and it’s really not good for time management. How can you possibly control your time, when time feels like it’s strangely out of your grasp? Picture trying to steer a bucking bronco in a particular direction while it tries to throw you off. You might climb on with every intention of taking control, but it will quickly become apparent that a much stronger force is calling the shots.
The first thing I want you to do is stop beating yourself up if you’re still struggling with time management and productivity. Of course you’re struggling! We’re all riding a bucking bronco called 2020, and just holding on is hard enough sometimes.
The next thing I want you to do is to get really clear and really intentional about planning.
How you plan for your week ahead is one thing that you can control, no matter how much wild stuff is happening around you. Creating a plan with built-in flexibility is the key to weathering whatever time weirdness comes up for you in the coming months.
I also want to remind you that the time management tools that work for other people won’t necessarily work for you. We’re all wired differently. If you’re using someone else’s management system and it’s not helping you move forward, you’ll beat yourself up for failing instead of developing a system that’s actually customized to work for your life and your brain in this time of extreme stress.
Finally, I want to urge you to reach out for support. It’s been a difficult and isolating year, but you’re not in it alone. I’m always here to support you however I can, so I want to invite you to join me for Time Matters Boot Camp LIVE!, happening virtually December 3rd through 5th. Join me for three days of powerful training as I coach you through the steps to finally take control of your time (even now!) and build the life you crave. I’m thrilled to be able to provide this kind of intensive support at a time when so many people need it badly.
Super Early Bird Pricing ends November 1st—save your spot for just $297, a savings of $1700!
Until next time—whenever that may be!
- Are You Getting the Right Amount of Free Time? (And Why it Matters!) - October 15, 2021
- This Fall, Better Time Management is a Routine Matter (Plus a Time Management Tip!) - September 28, 2021
- 3 Overlooked Places to Find Stability This Fall - September 16, 2021