The statistics speak for themselves. In 2018, according to the UK’s biggest survey into stress and its impacts, 81% of women said they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope in the past year. (That’s compared to 67% of men). So if you’re searching for the perfect time management approach for women with too much to do and too little time to do it in, we hear you.
Staying on top of everything you’ve got on your plate is no easy task.
But all too often, the time management or productivity advice we’re given just doesn’t seem to work. Can you relate?
It’s incredibly frustrating to spend ages researching systems for getting organized and boosting productivity… only to find that the miracle new app or “revolutionary” system works for a week or two at best, before you’re frazzled and fed up once more.
The answer? It may be that the time management tools that work best for us as women require strategies that aren’t always taken into account by traditional advice.
If you’ve tried every other time management tool on the market and nothing seems to work, consider these 3 shifts to how you approach the tasks on your to-do list:
1. Stop thinking about time
One of the biggest issues with time management tools is that the clue to what they focus on is in the name: time.
It’s taken for granted that you can achieve a certain amount in a certain amount of time. So, over the course of a day, you might have 8 hours in which to complete your allotted tasks. In that case, it’s just a time of slotting them all into place… like a giant jigsaw. Right?
Not quite. At One of Many™ we’ve found it’s more helpful to focus less on the time you have available each day, and more on the energy you are able to draw on at any given time.
After all, an hour after an amazing night’s sleep, at a time of the month when you’re feeling energetic and gregarious, is going to look a whole lot different than a Friday afternoon, bloated-and-miserable hour when you’re utterly depleted and just want to crawl into bed.
If time management feels like it’s just scratching the surface, perhaps it’s time to reframe what you’re trying to achieve. Start thinking about what you need to get done not in terms of how long each task will take, but what kind of energy you need to complete it.
2. Use your cycle
When you’re looking at your tasks in terms of energy, the obvious question becomes: how can you know what energy you will have available to you, and when?
Now, there are always going to be unpredictable ebbs and flows in your energy. If you’re a parent, you never know when someone’s going to get sick, or have a bad night, and need soothing that comes at the expense of mum’s rest. There are sudden flare-ups at work, and deadlines that can leave you unexpectedly depleted – we all get sick, or have off-days from time to time.
But if you start making a note of your energy levels at different times, you’ll almost certainly start noticing a pattern or a cycle. Even if you’re not menstruating, energy tends to follow predictable waves – from the very simple pattern of having more energy early in the morning, or the classic post-lunch slump, to noticing you’re more extroverted or creative at certain times of the month.
Pay attention to your individual rhythm and you’ll likely start to see why time management tools can only work for so long. It might be that you’re enthusiastic about embracing a new system until that one week of the month when it feels as though the world’s crashing down around you. Adjust accordingly – and see what difference that makes.
3. Start saying no
This might not be what you want to hear if you’re the kind of woman who prides herself on everything she manages to get done. I get it. We want to be amazing mums, loving partners, and world changing leaders. We want to be successful and we want to make big change in our corner of the world.
But whether we’re talking about time or energy, one thing is clear: we only have a finite amount of space to do what we want to. Getting really good at discerning what you want to spend your time on, and having clear boundaries around what you don’t want to focus on, is essential if you’re going to be able to be the leader you want to be.
The bottom line is, time management is never about amassing techniques so that you can get even better at doing even more stuff that’s not important. It’s about getting crystal clear on who you are, and what your difference is to make – and getting rid of anything that actually doesn’t fulfill or serve the difference that you’re put on this planet to make.
How about you –what’s your approach to productivity and time management? Have you found tools that you love, or is there a particular aspect that’s still a challenge? Let us know in the comments below – someone else might have exactly the solution you’re looking for!
Want to get to grips with how you use your time?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and as though things are getting on top of you, then you’re not alone. 81% of us find ourselves there from time to time. So we’ve developed a really simple tool to get you back on track. It’s called the Overwhelm First Aid Kit and it’s helped thousands of women take back control of their busy lives. You can download it free by clicking here.
Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
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