2020 has been a year of puzzles. There have been the literal daily puzzles: How do you navigate the grocery store checkout process without touching anything? How do you set up your home so that multiple people can work or attend school virtually?
Of course, lock-down also sent people scrambling for literal jigsaw puzzles. Just weeks into the pandemic reaching the U.S., one major puzzle producer reported that demand has risen 370 percent over its normal sales. Having just worked on a puzzle during a recent vacation, I get how satisfying it is to arrange all those little pieces into a finished picture.
But in another way, 2020 has been the year when our lives became puzzles.
Pieces of our normal lives fell away when the pandemic began. Going to work or school, socializing, travel, sports and live events were things that most of us just didn’t do anymore.
Over the next six months, as the country started to reopen, we adjusted. Think about how much you’ve reworked in your own life this year. You’ve figured out how to get groceries safely and how to socialize at a distance. You may have figured out how to do your job from home and/or how to help your kids attend school virtually.
For all of us, navigating these unique challenges has been kind of like breaking up a puzzle and finding a new way to put the pieces back together. The picture may look different than the original… but it can still be beautiful.
I want to remind you about your ability to put those pieces together because l want to encourage you to move toward your goals right now, even if you’ve felt stuck. I know that this is not the year any of us imagined for ourselves. The circumstances of the pandemic have made people feel powerless. But you’re in a powerful moment right now because you still have time. There are still several months left in this strange and challenging year. You can still turn that time into action.
Solving the Time Management Puzzle
Let’s acknowledge that time management has been really challenging for a lot of people this year. Instead of beating yourself up for what you haven’t accomplished so far, turn your focus to making these next several months different.
Productivity is possible, and it starts with these four steps:
- First, I want you to get really clear about your goals for the next several months. Imagine it’s this coming New Year’s Eve, and you’re looking back over the year. What do you want to be able to say that you got done? What would you love to cross off your bucket list? What would you be really proud to accomplish between now and then? Write down these goals.
- Then, take a big-picture look at what you’ve come up with. Look over the goals you’ve created and ask yourself whether they’re synergistic. Are they in alignment and all supportive of your larger priorities? Or do they contradict each other? For example, say you’re already over-scheduled and your goals include “run X miles by New Years” and “launch a side business.” These are time-intensive goals. Where will you find the hours? Can you spare them without cutting into sleep or taking time away from family? If not, you may need to rethink these short-term goals, or change your time management strategies to create more time.
- Next, break these goals into puzzle pieces. Grab a notebook and create a separate page for each goal. On each sheet, write out all the steps that will go into accomplishing it. Try to think through the next several months and imagine all the things that will have to get done in order for you to celebrate that accomplishment on New Year’s Eve.
- Finally, ask yourself: Whose help am I going to need to accomplish these goals? For example, if you’re going to take early-morning runs each day, will your spouse need to take over dog-walking or breakfast-making duties? If you’re going to launch that side business, are there people in your network whose brains you can pick for advice? Will you need to create more time by delegating additional tasks to your team? Reach out now to let them know what you’re planning to do and what kind of support you’re going to need.
When you’ve gotten really clear about your goals for the next several months, I’m here to help you take action.
You can reach out to me at any time for support. If you’re ready to really transform your time management strategies and gain the tools to be more productive, consider joining me for Time Matters Boot Camp LIVE! Happening December 3-5, this program will be virtual—so you can change your life from the comfort of your couch. Super Early Bird registration ends November 1st; click here to learn more and to register.