Managing Our Time

Damian Goldvarg, Ph.D., MCC.

Many of my clients, during our coaching sessions like to focus on how, to more effectively manage their time. First of all, I would like to clarify that  we don´t manage time but we manage ourselves.  The challenge is managing ourselves since we all have the same 24 hours.  However, some people are more effective than others in organizing to achieve professional and personal goals.

When my clients do not complete their activities or projects,  I like to explore the “reasons” or “excuses” that they are giving to themselves. Usually when we start exploring why they are “leaving for tomorrow what they need to do today” there are certain topics that recur in our conversations:

  • “I have no desire to do it”
  • “I don’t want to”
  • ”I get bored”
  • “I am uncomfortable”
  • “It is not important”
  • “Is not a priority”
  • “I don’t know how to do it”
  • “It’s hard work and effort”
  • “I am afraid I will make mistakes”
  • “I do not want to look ridiculous”

Some of these reasons seem like very good excuses. The first, “I have no desire to” is only a superficial answer, and is generally related to the other explanations. We don’t like to do that which bores us, makes us feel  uncomfortable, or anything that makes us face the possibility of failure. What are the activities that you don’t like to do or that you are always postponing? What are the real reasons?

When we believe that there is something we know that we should do and yet we don´t, we say that it is not important, however, we know that we are lying to ourselves. If it was not important, we would have not been concerned about what we should do.  Is there any chance that you’re lying to yourself to avoid doing something that you know you need to do? The fear of failure is often one of the biggest obstacles to taking action. I invite you to evaluate something in your life that you know you have to do and yet you’re not doing it. What is stopping you? What are the obstacles you are facing to taking meaningful action?

Taking time to understand why you are not taking action is critical in this process. It is something different for each one of us, but most of the time what stops us is related to our ability to prioritize, decide what things are really important to us, or the ability to feel confident that we can achieve what we need to do. Not knowing how to prioritize and lack of self confidence are very typical obstacles that prevent us from making the leap.

Once we identify them, it is easier to do something about it. For example, if there is an activity that requires concentration and which does not produce satisfaction such as administrative tasks or accounting (in my case) focus on finding an interesting angle and look at this situation as a different observer. This task can be an opportunity to realize something that you didn’t know. Opportunities for growth, learning, and business can support us to finish this task. What are the benefits and costs of not doing so? What am I not seeing, that could provide new possibilities? Interpret the task with a new perspective to open new spaces of “Self”. Who am I when I’m not doing what I do know that I need to do? I like to be that way? How would I like to be in relation to this activity? Exploring these questions is a central part of my work as a coach, being able to find other possible interpretations to create the “breakthroughs” with my clients.

Another common example is to delay going to the gym. Personally, it took me years to develop the discipline of going to the gym three times a week, but it is no longer an option. However I hear very often this issue in my clients. What excuses do you give for not going to the gym? What are the consequences? Sometimes there is a component that is not only rational but emotional. We have all the reasons, we understand them, we know why it is good, however, we do not do it. Even when we are tired but we get out of the gym, we come out with more energy! Tony Robbins said that what we seek is pleasure and to escape from “suffering”. How can you see this in your own life?

Developing a plan is a good strategy to organize yourselves,  if you implement your plan.  I invite you to make a plan with measurable goals and activities that allow you to complete an activity you have wished to complete for a long time. You don’t have to start with a large project, but you could choose a specific task . Sometimes it is necessary to ask for support from friends, colleagues or professionals that allow us to be accountable for our commitments.

I wish you good luck in completing your task!