What’s the 8th strategy?

IMG_1256On the east coast in late July, the sun rises at approximately 5:55 a.m. I know this because I have been up to see it several days this week while traveling on a family vacation. The toddler sleep issues are continuing. At least he has been happy to go for long walks, and there have been some fairly magnificent colors. I snapped the photo accompanying this post earlier this week.

Anyway, over the past two weeks on this blog, I have been running a series on foundational time management habits. In case you missed the posts, they were:

Tend your garden (#1)

Earn your merit badges (#2)

Hollow the stone (#3)

Satisfice (#4)

Leave breathing room (#5)

People are a good use of time (#6)

Try to enjoy it (#7)

So, my question: If you were to expand this list, what would you add? What strategy has helped you be better about managing your time, or feeling better about it? Please leave a comment and let me know!

In other news: I am writing an article on communication tips from top audio book narrators. Do you have a favorite voice over artist? I would love recommendations.

12 thoughts on “What’s the 8th strategy?

  1. My 8th would be that Sometimes the Narrative is True. Or maybe Know Thyself. I have always considered myself a night owl. I have tried for years to be a morning person. I have to get up fairly early regardless. I have kids and a job, but through the years I have found I’m just not as productive in the morning as I am in the evenings and at night. Morning exercise and other activities just end up getting pushed to the side. When my children were very small, I remember the early mornings and managed to get through them, but now that we are past that stage I can focus on what is better for me. So instead of 4:45 am I’m sleeping in until 6:00! (7:00 on weekends!) One day when the kids are grown that will move even later.

    1. @Jennie – I agree that knowing yourself is an important matter for time management. We can waste all kinds of time thinking we should do things we’re never going to do (or at least won’t enjoy). Life is too short.

  2. Hmmm. I think mine would be to limit the number of things in flight at any given time- it is the “limit the work in progress” thing I picked up from kanban that made such a big difference for my team when we tried it and continues to make a difference for me now. I tend to get lots of ideas and want to do lots of things, which is fine (great, even), but I’m happier and I get more done overall if I don’t start work on too many at once.

    1. @Cloud – this is one of the reasons I’ve embraced quarterly goals. I know what I’ve chosen to focus on at any given time, and I know that other things will come later. Whether I do them is another matter, but hey.

  3. I can be a pretty anxious person and I’ve learned (and am still learning) over the years to let myself do the things that need to be done. My tendency is to ruminate rather than do, which is detrimental to time management. Giving myself permission and encouragement to act, rather than worry, is one of the best strategies for me. There are a few mantras that have helped me with this… One was Gretchen Rubin’s advice to “pretend you are in jail” when you have a project you must do. This translates into my head as “you are allowed to take the time to do this important thing.” Allowing myself the time, or, in other words, granting myself permission to spend time on the most important things, is a mental hurdle I was surprised to find I needed to work to overcome. It has helped to recognize it is a hurdle in the first place. Yes, I deserve to give myself hours of uninterrupted time to study for an important exam, prepare a complicated brief, or tackle a challenging chore. I am allowed to say no to smaller, less important things and take the time that I need for what is important.

    The second piece of advice that has helped me came from my husband, who once said “look, any time you start asking, ‘should I go for a run right now?’ Stop wondering and just go. You are always happier when you do.” This, of course, applies to many things beyond running!

  4. Hi Laura,

    My 8th strategy might be, “Let go of the timeline”. I struggle with patience, and in the past, if I felt something wasn’t happening quickly enough, I’d bail before it had time to really grow legs. So, if I don’t have to worry about exactly when something gets done, I’m more inclined to keep going. On the other hand, I’m very deadline driven, and it helps get the small steps along the way done and not dallied over. So it’s a balance.

    Also, I have a favorite voice over artist and communications specialist. Here’s her website:

  5. Mine repeats a couple of other comments already written: Narrow your focus to the most important and prioritize that above all else. I’ve been recently stagnating, and came across a note I had written down in the past: “Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?”

    I was. I do a lot, but not necessarily where I get the most results for my efforts. I’m discourage for lack of progress and nonetheless exhausted for doing so much.

    I’ve thrown out the some nice-but-not-really-necessary goals for right now and commit to focus on two things daily, the most important of which I do when I get straight out of bed.

    First Things First from Stephen Covey? Eat that Frog from Brian Tracey? Wherever it’s from, great minds seem to think alike.

  6. I would add +1 to the suggestion of ‘know yourself’ but add ‘…and experiment’. Or as Katy Bowman puts it ‘Be your own ape and your own Dian Fossey’. Experimenting and paying attention to the results, even though it’s an n=1 experiment, is a great way to see what works for you.
    The other that I’ve found helpful is ‘Take a break, before a break takes you’. So often when I’m ‘wasting time’ it’s because I need a break. I’m not 100% well this week so there’s been some napping, but surprisingly I’ve actually been doing better than usual on goals for amount of work completed in a day, because I’m more focused when I’m rested, and more efficient when I have a limited window to get things done. Having a proper ‘Sabbath’ on Sunday often sets me up for an extremely productive week.

  7. A fellow academic friend gave me this advice for weighing whether to commit to new projects: If it’s not a “Hell yes!” it’s a “Hell no!” Similar to your advice about whether you’d do a task tomorrow vs. November.

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