Do you do anything in the morning to focus and set your intentions for the day? Setting intentions is often part of meditation and yoga practices – but even if you start your mornings with chaos rather than calm, maybe you do some version of this. Thinking through the day to come, as you think about what you have to get done, you might make vows to yourself. “Today is going to be a really productive day.” “Today, I’m going to focus on the positives and not let [X] get me down.” “Today, I’ll keep calm even if [Y] and [Z] happen again.”
Then the day starts, and things get complicated.
When Life Gets in the Way of Time Management
You might truly want a productive, peaceful day… but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is going to cooperate. External factors get in the way. While you’re trying to juggle everything on your to-do list, a client might call with a last-minute emergency, or maybe a colleague asks for a favor, or a call to your insurance company that was supposed to take three minutes takes 45 instead. Then…
- The car starts making a weird sound.
- An accident makes you late for a meeting.
- The WIFI’s spotty, your phone keeps crashing.
- Your charger breaks… and Mercury’s not even in retrograde!
You’re a good person! Why is the universe plotting against you, when you went into the day with the best of intentions? When you’re running a business and constantly being pulled in different directions, any unexpected hiccup has the potential to knock you completely off course.
Those are the moments when you need to focus on your time management strategies the most.
Say you’re making that important call to the insurance company, and it runs so long that you have to push back a phone call with a client. If you start the call feeling flustered and irritated, you may not be able to represent yourself as well as you could. If that call doesn’t go well, then you’re going to carry that energy into your next task. Now you’re running behind on your schedule. You might feel scattered, anxious or crabby. Distraction makes it hard to figure out what to do next. Maybe you fall so far behind that you can’t make it home in time for dinner as planned, which only adds to the general misery of the day.
We’ve all had days like this.
When your schedule is packed, there’s no recovery time built in for dealing with life’s little roadblocks. One thing goes wrong and you’re running behind and off kilter until bedtime.
Can you think of a time recently when one bad moment or unexpected inconvenience threw off your entire plan for the day? I wonder if that day could have turned out differently if you had tried a simple exercise at the moment of distraction. This philosophy is part of a time management tool that I call Practice the Pause ™. I often teach clients this strategy – essentially, it’s a way of stopping yourself to pause, breathe, focus and evaluate what you’re doing in the moment and get back on track.
It’s a gentle way to pull yourself out of the emotion of the moment, and bringing your focus back to your priorities. It allows you to bypass all that time-wasting frustration and move forward with purpose.
Practice the Pause is just one of the time management tools that I’ll be teaching during my upcoming Jump Start Your Productivity home study. I’ve designed this course to be highly flexible, so busy professionals and entrepreneurs can do the work on their own time. If you’re working hard every day but your time management challenges are keeping you from getting to where you want to be, or if you’re tired of wishing you had more time for the things you love, this course is for you!
I hope you’ll take a moment to pause and re-focus today, to start creating the peace you crave.