The 1 Thing Ruining Your Time Management

I am a productivity junkie.

I’ve used almost all the major productivity applications on the internet (i.e. Trello, Todoist) as well as physical planners in an attempt to organize all my priorities, from school, to work, to family, to relationships. I found that my most unproductive weeks have a common denominator- Failing to Plan Realistically. All these productivity applications are useless when I don’t plan realistically. Planning realistically includes considering my energy levels, the people involved, the lead times, and the resources available.

When I let impatience and uncertainty run the calendar, it often ends up in shatters as I overestimate timelines and resources. I understand why sometimes we want to just take on big goals and hustle through the tasks. That is great because it means you care deeply about the goal at hand. But I learned the hard way not to let emotions run my calendar and be honest with myself as to what can be accomplished in a week. Being realistic is a hard pill to swallow, but it is a necessary one because unfortunately, we are not the center of the universe. There are things we can’t control such as delays, logistical problems, and conflicts. Planning ahead of time also reduces overwhelm as you get to visualize the week ahead.

Note that being realistic doesn’t mean you go slow. It just means you evaluate your resources and make the best estimation of when you can finish things. If you want to finish things quicker, you get to outsource. But if your resources are not enough to accomplish the task at the timeline you want, create a calendar that is both ambitious and realistic.

Making timelines grounded on realistic evaluation also has a secondary effect. Doing what you say you will do feeds on your brain’s reward system and you get to be more excited to work. If you are constantly not meeting what you say you will accomplish, you will feel like a failure and this is not the way to go if you want to win long term.

Referencing Psychologist Philip Zimbardo, we all have different time perspectives, and that means we have a non-conscious personal attitude toward time that gives us order, coherence, and meaning. Being aware about how you think about time and taking a step back and evaluating your life and your business from an objective point of view allows you to live a more calm and controlled life.

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