So, 2020 wasn’t the year we had hoped it would be. I celebrated its end along with everyone else—but a funny thing happened on January 1st. We all woke up and discovered that nothing had changed.
Flipping the calendar didn’t do a darn thing to end the pandemic or end the discord in our country. It didn’t do anything to give our healthcare workers the break they deserve, or to allow our kids to go back to their normal school routines. We were so excited for 2020 to end… until it did.
I think we all relearn this every year after New Year’s, but it was especially stark at the beginning of 2021: Moving into a new year doesn’t automatically change anything. Your life will only be different this year than it was last year if you do something differently this year.
I can practically hear some of you scoffing from here. “Dr. Sarah,” you’re thinking, “I’m lucky if I get a shower some days. The last 10 months have been so tough that I can’t get through what’s already on my plate. Making a big change in my life sounds exhausting, and it’s not going to happen right now.”
First, I want you to know—I get that. There have been plenty of times for me when sitting down to work and focusing on time management and productivity have been hard…and this is what I love to do! I know that this experience has been painful in so many ways, and you’re carrying a lot.
Here’s what else I know: You’re better prepared for this year than you were for 2020. After living through 10 months of the pandemic, you’ve pretty much got the hang of this thing by now. You have a pretty good idea what life is going to look like until we’re back to normal. Hopefully, you’ve developed some coping skills and found some minor silver linings to appreciate during this strange time in your life. It’s been hard. But you’re still here.
Making Time for Time Management in 2021
As you think about what you can do to make this year different, I want to remind you of how much you’ve already survived and adjusted to. And I hope you’ll realize how many tools you already have to make 2021 a great year for you, no matter what it brings.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you make New Year’s resolutions about time management and productivity. Resolutions can certainly be helpful for some people, but not everyone. This isn’t the year to set yourself up to fail by making a resolution you know you won’t stick to.
A big reason so many people don’t follow through on their New Year’s resolutions is because they create a goal without a plan to get them there. So this year, as you think about what you can do to make 2021 better and easier than 2020, I want to propose you think less about big-picture goals and more about something simple.
Next year, maybe I’ll be here, encouraging you to set aspirational New Year’s resolutions that stretch and challenge you. But for this year, when even simple time management is a big enough challenge for many people, my message is simply this: Be gentle with yourself. Instead of trying to create dramatic change in your life right now, make one small change that will make everything else easier.
My suggestion for that one change? Learn how to make a plan that you can actually follow.
A plan. That’s the missing piece, isn’t it? A big reason the start of quarantine felt so scary and overwhelming is that we had no plan for what to do next. Having a plan gives you a sense of control over your time and your life. If you’re like a lot of my clients, you probably feel like you’ve been living without a plan for months now. You’re making it up as you go along, just trying to get through today. That may have gotten you through 2020, but now it’s time to find a better way.
I want you to know that it’s absolutely possible to create a plan for your week—one that’s so flexible that you can stick to it no matter what unexpected surprises life throws at you.
It’s my mission right now to help you create that plan. Join me on January 16th at 12 pm ET/9 am PT for my Weekly Planning That Works, Even in Times of Uncertainty masterclass. This 90-minute training will help you learn the steps to get more control over your time and life. It’s happening live via Zoom, so you can join me from anywhere to get this information. Did I mention it’s FREE? Click here to register!