Have you ever wasted 30 min? If you’re like me, chances are you spend a lot of time saying to yourself “I just wasted 30 min.” What happens for me is that I get ready to work on a project and then something bounces into my mind that I needed to do. I'm sure it will only take a couple minutes…..and it does. The problem is that during those couple minutes, one of two things often happens:
Recently I was on a Q&A Call with my Coaching Club clients and the topic was time management. There were 9 of them on the call and each took time to share some tips and tricks they use to manage situation #1 above. In addition to each person being inspired by some new ideas, and the fact that they aren’t alone in this pattern, two themes came to light.
Situation # 2 above is different than #1 and we actually didn’t talk about that on our call. Often when I say “I just wasted 30 min”, I just finished scenario #2. I did that 1 thing that I thought would take a couple minutes and then did a few more 20 min things. As a matter of fact, I’m currently in this cycle as I write this blog post.
The "a-ha" that came to mind as I was saying, “I just wasted 30 min” was that I hadn’t. However, I say that all the time and cause myself to feel bad. I also lead those around me to think I wasn’t working (like family or my team or my clients). People think what we tell them. So, we need to change how we think and what we say. The reality is that I WAS doing work during the 30 min and it wasn’t wasted time, it was important. It just wasn’t on the list of things I had planned to do.
How do we get around this? The solution really is to stop overscheduling ourselves and to schedule buffers into our day. As I’ve paid attention to the tasks I’ve done this week, I’ve realize most of it wasn’t how I planned it to go. It also wasn’t wasted time, even though I said and thought it was. Each thing I did was something important that had to be done, often times it was something I didn’t realize needed to be done until I was in the situation.
By allowing space in our day we allow these things to be taken care of without associated guilt. We aren’t robots and our lives don’t happen in controlled environments. By allowing space in our schedules we can avoid feeling out of control when the unexpected comes up, as we know it will.
So, the next time you go to plan your day don’t schedule every single hour. Leave an hour or two for the administrative things you will need to do like checking email, returning that call, scheduling that meeting, updating that form, making lunch or breakfast, reading a book. While you’re at it, leave an hour or two that is totally blank. Something will come up that needs to fill the space and you’ll be glad it’s there. If nothing does, you’ll suddenly have free time to do something fun. How cool would that be?!
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