There are two kinds of people in the world right now: people who are gripped with March Madness, and the rest of us.  

If you’re in the second camp, things are probably carrying on as normal for you this month. But if you’re one of the tens of millions of college basketball fans who fill out brackets and enter tournaments and root on a favorite team, this is clearly a very exciting time. It’s also a not-so-productive time for a lot of people who get really into March Madness every year. Obsessing over your bracket is a daily time-suck over the nearly monthlong tournament. Additionally, many of the games themselves take place during traditional work hours.  

March Madness has such a pronounced effect on time management and productivity that researchers have studied it. In 2018, a survey by TSheets found that 48% of people reported filling out brackets at work. An executive coaching firm called Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. took that figure and figured out that American employers lose an estimated $13+ billion in productivity costs every year during the tournament.  

Who knows how the pandemic and remote work shift have changed things, but it stands to reason that millions of workers will be sneaking peeks at games over the coming weeks. Maybe you’ll be one of them. (No judgment—just make sure you’re building that time into your time management plans over the next few weeks so you don’t end up scrambling to catch up in April!) 

Does “March Madness” Wreak Havoc on Your Time Management and Productivity? 

But I’m not actually here to talk about basketball, unsurprisingly. I’m more interested in the version of “March madness” I’m seeing a lot of people navigating right now.  

It happens every spring. Between work, kids and other family needs, there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done. Spring can be an especially chaotic time. Something about the weather warming up seems to amp up everyone’s schedule, especially if you have kids in spring sports or have other obligations that kick into high gear this time of year. 

With that in mind, here’s a question! 

Is your own personal “March Madness” experience feeling mostly positive or mostly negative? 

March madness

Are you feeling like it’s hard to handle everything that’s coming your way, like you’re bound for a breakdown because you can’t keep up with everything that’s on your plate?   

Or are you experiencing a sense of “spring renewal”? Are you feeling energized and excited about what’s to come with spring and summer, and really enjoying the busyness of your life right now?  

Your own personal version of March madness doesn’t have to be a negative experience. It’s possible to be busy and feel like you’re being pulled in a bunch of different directions without feeling like you’re out of control. Good time management is a critical piece of making that work, though. Having a time management system where you’re clear about your most important tasks lets you “ride the wave” of chaos, knowing that you’ve scheduled yourself enough time to get those most important tasks done. It’s only when you’re going through March madness without a working plan for time management and productivity that you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water.  

Focusing on that theme of renewal is just one thing I’d suggest. (If you missed my last blog about spring renewal, click that link and check it out now.) Move through the rest of spring thinking about all the new, positive opportunities that you could grab onto if you choose to. Remember that you have the power to create transformation in your own life, and that you’re ultimately the one in control of your time.  

3 Action Items for Creating Spring Renewal 

1. Practice the Pause.

This technique is a core part of a lot of my trainings because everyone needs it. It’s easy to get so distracted by everything you’ve got going on that you get physically and mentally overwhelmed. You can’t move forward in a peaceful, productive way until you essentially force yourself to reset and refocus. Get in the habit of noticing when you’re experiencing that kind of overwhelm so you can tell yourself you need to pause. Take a deep breath, then take a few more. Get yourself grounded in the present. Then make decisions from there. 

2. While you’re feeling grounded and present, think about what new opportunities have been popping up for you.

Notice whether they’re making you feel energized or freaked out. If you’re going to create a sense of renewal and newness in your life this spring, you have to make yourself open to new things. Is there something specific you can think of that’s come up in the last few weeks? Maybe it’s a new prospective client you met, or an invitation to join a friend for a game of pickle ball, or a volunteering opportunity you haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Focus in on any new possibilities that make you feel excited. If a new opportunity makes you anxious or overwhelmed, do some more thinking about where that’s coming from. Is it something you truly don’t want to pursue? Or are you worried about the time management piece because you feel like you don’t have time for one more thing? 

3. Choose consciously which activities you want to add to your life right now.

The activities that you want to add to your schedule should be connected to long-term meaningful goals in some part of your life, personal or professional. Think about the “why” behind everything that you’re scheduling for yourself. If it’s not an activity that helps you move toward the kind of life you want, maybe that’s not something you want to give your time to.  

Need more support with time management and productivity?  

It’s not too late to join my Time Matters Boot Camp 90-Day program! This virtual bootcamp is for professionals who are ready to get serious about taking control of their time to boost productivity and live the lives they crave. You’ll get access to 12 90-minute training classes and a host of other resources as you build your own time management toolkit, along with my coaching and the support of your peers in the group.  

Plus, by joining bootcamp you’ll learn my Weekly Planning That Works process. You’ll get the step-by-step method for building plans for your day, your week and your month, and you’ll know that those plans are designed specifically for your life and your goals. (One of my clients, who’s a managing partner at a law firm, said that learning the Weekly Planning That Works process was worth the whole price of admission for the program he was in!) Click here to learn more about joining us. 

Happy spring! 


Sarah Reiff-Hekking