Using Time Effectively (lessons from the fast lane)
Friday, 29 March 2013 @ 5:20 PM
Elaine Taylor-Klaus in Balance, Be Bresent, Clarity, Mom-preneur, Overload, Overwhelm, Partnering, Time, Time Management, parenting

In my house, we are living life at a "warp-speed-wonderful" pace, these days, trying to fulfill commitments and responsibilities, while making time for the extra passion-pieces that make life worthwhile. 

Admittedly, we’ve probably bit off a bit more than we can chew. But at this point – even with multitude of "juicy NOs" that we decline daily – there is nothing extraneous on our plates to eliminate. This is, quite simply, an extra-busy time of life for us.

But here’s what we’re learning from it. When life gets hyper-busy – and let’s face it, warp speed has become commonplace for many of us -- it’s all the more important that we use our time intentionally.

Now, if I were an uber-organized-super-mom-entrepreneur, I might turn my attention here to time efficiency and organization. But – here’s a true confession – I’m not all that organized, and I could benefit from improved efficiency, myself.

So, rather than focus time efficiency, I’ve learned that for me to manage a full plate it has been critically important to learn to use my time effectively. It’s a subtle difference, with a significant impact.

Using my time effectively has to do with being clear about what I’m doing at any given moment (or on any given day), which allows me to be present to the task.

What does it mean to be clear and present?

When I’m working, I try to be specific about what I want to accomplish, and articulate simple goals so that I know when I’ve achieved them (e.g. I want to finish this blog today). The presence part is challenged by my tendency to give in to distractions, so I manage it best by turning off unnecessary technologies, closing doors, setting time limits, etc. When I set a clear intention to something, I’m much better able to be present to it.

When I’m parenting, I try to be fully engaged and available to my children. I’m aware  when it’s “family” time, and allow that to guide my actions as much as possible. I try hard to check in with my kids and look them in the eyes daily. I ask them what they need from me, so that I am able to provide it whenever possible. And sometimes, when I’m not as present as I’d like to be, I even apologize and let them know that I feel like I’m falling short of my best intentions. That, in and of itself, reminds them that I want to be there for them – and they appreciate the reminder.

When I’m partnering with my spouse – and for us, it’s particularly complicated, as we partner in life and in business -- I try to be clear about when we’re working, and when we’re playing. We try to blend the two as much as possible in terms of attitude (work should be play, after all!), but its important to know when we’re off the clock.  With the volume on our plates, quite frankly we’re both feeling stretched, and its difficult to make time for relaxation. But it’s critically important, and worth a little less sleep to make sure that we’re connecting on something other than the business of our lives, be it work or family.

The trick to all of this – to being clear and present – is actually to articulate what the purpose is for any given moment. Sounds silly, in a way, but it’s amazing how helpful it can be!  

Often times, when we aren’t specific about what we plan to do in a given time-period, we let the weight (and length) of our “to-do” lists impinge on every waking moment. The anxiety that comes from constantly feeling like you’re “supposed to be” doing something else can be debilitating – and actually prevent you from doing anything effectively.

On the other hand, when you know that this afternoon is play-time, and you’ll get the logistics handled after the kids go to bed, or visa versa, then you can enjoy the play time with some confidence that the work will get done.

For example, I helped my daughter plan her homework for the weekend so that she could enjoy attending her school play without feeling pulled to be doing her homework. I know, it’s not a problem every parent faces, but between school and sports, there’s little for much else in her schedule. I wanted to make sure she was clear about when her down time would be.

If you’re like me, with a full plate and busy schedule, sometimes it’s hard to enjoy the free time you have. The trick, I’ve learned, is in the clarity of intention, which makes way for the ability to be fully present. It may not always be the most efficient use of time, but for this busy mom-preneur, it’s proven to be quite effective!

Article originally appeared on Touchstone Coaching clients overcome the overwhelm of growing a business & growing a family. (http://www.touchstonecoaching.com/).
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