A little unpredictability can be a good thing. Not knowing exactly what will happen next keeps life interesting.  

At least, that seemed true before this year. Before everything turned upside down. Before schools closed and camps were canceled. Before simple things like going to the grocery store and grabbing dinner with friends became dangerous to our health. Right now, you may be craving stability and certainty in a way you never have before.  

I’m hearing from a lot of my clients that they’re especially struggling with uncertainty now that it’s summer. This is a season when so many of us normally participate in annual traditions that we love, and that are suddenly impossible this year.  

This Summer, Flexibility’s the Key to Time Management 

Normally, your summertime time management challenges might center around getting things done so you can take that beach vacation without worrying about what’s waiting at home for you. This year, time management is only part of the challenge. All the unanswerable questions are another part.  

Say you’re thinking about taking a vacation. Is it safe to take a road trip right now? Is an AirBnB safer than a hotel or not? How will COVID rates change over the coming weeks? How will your state’s policies and guidance change? If you have young kids, are they going to have any camps or other activities available before the end of summer? Does it make more sense to occupy them at home, even though they’re stir crazy, or is it worth the risk to get away for a little bit? 

What’s really unusual about this time in our lives is that there’s so little definitive information that we can use to plan.  

I know how tough this is, and that all this uncertainty may be weighing you down. I get it, and I’ve felt it too. Still, I want you to know that planning ahead is still within your reach. It just takes a different approach, and your plans will look a little different. But the fact that so much is up in the air doesn’t negate the fact that a lot is still within your control.  

How can you maintain some sense of peace and calm about the upcoming months, despite having so many question marks? By maximizing certainty.  

Maximizing certainty is all about honing in on the things that you can control and planning around those factors. It’s about focusing on what you do know instead of what you don’t know. 

So, okay, maybe your annual family reunion isn’t going to be possible this Labor Day. You have a lot of questions about what things are going to be like by then. But what can you count on? You and your family will be together, and you can all decide now to clear your schedules to make sure those days stay open.  

Now you can think about how you might schedule those days in a relatively pandemic-proof way. Could you camp on a friend’s property? Rent a cottage that’s within an hour’s drive? Plan to stay home and have full-day board game marathons? Or maybe, once you’ve locked in the dates for this family time, you’ll decide to wait and make more solid plans when you’re one week out. Because you’re certain about when these plans will happen, and with whom, you can give yourself some space to figure out the details later.  

By the way, this concept isn’t specific to the pandemic.

Maximizing certainty is a useful strategy whenever factors outside your control threaten your plans and your productivity. Think about when you’re trying to set your calendar for next week, but you’re still waiting to hear about the timing for a few meetings. Instead of focusing on those question marks hanging over the week, and waiting for them to be settled before making plans, fill your schedule with things that you KNOW are certain. Leave gaps wherever you’re uncertain, and give yourself some extra space for putting those pieces in place.  

If you’re craving stability right now, you’re far from alone. I’m hearing from my clients that they’re struggling with planning ahead and creating plans that they can really stick to, even during uncertainty. Sound familiar? If so, my virtual 90-day Time Matters Boot Camp is for you. This boot camp is designed to help you first figure out how you’re wired, so I can help you customize your productivity and time management tools to support your specific needs. Click here to learn more and register for this powerful program.

This program can transform the way you approach time management and productivity—it’s one of the things I’m certain on. I hope you’ll join us.   

Gratefully, 

Sarah 

Sarah Reiff-Hekking
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