Unconventional Time Management
I don’t believe in let-me-tell-you-what-to-do-time-management.
Why? It doesn’t work.
What does work is the perfect-for-you approach to managing your life (and time) just waiting to be discovered – inside of you.
Your best system has been squashed by an endless stream of traditional time management advice offered at the drop of hat by everyone from your favorite business guru to your sweet Aunt Sally.
They want you to know what works for them. And they are convinced it will work for you as well.
Without meaning to, they’ve encouraged you to distrust yourself and made you afraid of being different.
Your System Is Unique
How you manage your time and organize your life might not be the way your husband, friend, or co-worker does it.
They might not understand your approach. This is OK. In fact, this is the way it’s supposed to be.
Everyone thinks differently. Everyone processes information differently. Everyone responds to their environment differently. Doesn’t it make sense that your systems would look different too?
Your System Sets You Free
You can tell when you finally land on your best approach to time management – because it fits you. It isn’t hard. It feels natural and aligned with how you want to operate in the world. Managing your life becomes far less overwhelming and complicated.
Take my two-minute quiz to help you discover your unique Time Personality. Then find out how you can use it to your advantage, so you can make the most of your time and energy.
1. My to-do list is…
A. Scattershot. I rely on memory and scraps of paper, then wind up focusing on the most pressing things that come flying at me each day.
B. A brain dump. I jot down everything when I get overwhelmed, but following long to-do lists stresses me out.
C. Doable. I handle daily priorities with ease. It’s moving forward my bigger projects that I struggle with.
D. Organized but not always doable. I live for crossing things off my list which means I might not stop until I get to the bottom.
2. You have unread emails in your in-box. How bothered are you?
A. Very. I hate unread emails, but I just can’t keep up!
B. A little. But if I don’t get to them today, I’ll do it tomorrow.
C. Not much. If someone really needs me, they’ll call.
D. It’d never happen. I read my email, then file them or delete them.
3. Your doctor is running 20 minutes late for your appointment. What do you do in the waiting room?
A. Work on something I was supposed to finish before I came.
B. Read a magazine. Isn’t that what waiting rooms are for?
C. Review and update the few items on my to-do list. Then go back to my novel.
D. Fume, while catching up on emails or phone calls.
4. Surprise! Your partner is whisking you away for a weekend in the Caribbean. Your flight leaves in three hours. What do you do?
A. Grab my work. I’ll do it on the beach, even if it makes me feel guilty.
B. Grab some work and get it done on the plane—between glasses of Merlot.
C. Scream, pack my bikini and go!
D. Panic and see if we can reschedule. I had plans this weekend!
5. What motivates you at work?
A. Pressure. Deadlines keep me moving.
B. Finishing. I’ve got a giant glass of wine waiting for me when I’m done.
C. Progress. I just like doing a little bit more every day.
D. I do. I just want to be left alone so I can get everything done.
6. How many hours a week do you spend doing things for fun?
A. 3-4. I rarely plan for it, but I get sucked into a movie when I channel-surf.
B. 4-6. Having fun makes me more productive at work.
C. 6 or more. I’d die inside if I couldn’t have down time.
D. 2-3. Work comes first, but I manage to squeeze in friends and family now and then.
7. I exercise…
A. Whenever I can, which honestly sometimes means never.
B. Usually 2 to 3 days a week. It’s my time to de-stress.
C. In spurts. I love it, do it like crazy and then get busy and have to start again.
D. As often as I can schedule it in. Sometimes I’ll skip sleep to get to the gym.
8. On a typical day your goal and results are most likely:
A. Goal: Get yourself to focus and follow through on many tasks
Result: Some things may get done but you don’t feel very focused about it.
B. Goal: Get a few things done while still leaving time to spend outside of work
Result: Tasks get done but they weren’t necessary your highest priorities.
C. Goal: Get yourself to start at least one task that needs to be completed
Result: There is a 50% chance you started and completed a task.
D. Goal: Get the most accomplished that is humanly possible in one day
Result: A ton was completed but at the sacrifice of everything else in your life.
Everyone has a dominant Time Personality, but many of us are a blend of two types. Remember not to make too much of this categorization. It is merely a first step toward understanding how to create a time system that works for you and your life.
Mostly A’s: You’re a Time Warrior
You’re a highly creative person, so traditional time management strategies don’t always work for you. You end up completing projects at the last minute and spend your days putting out fires. It can feel impossible to sit down and prioritize making it hard to focus on activities that could replenish your emotional and mental well-being.
Your goal: You want to finish what you start and follow through on your promises to yourself—and others.
Your focus: Start saying No more than you say Yes. Pause throughout the day for a few seconds to breathe and recenter yourself. Use this time to let your key priority surface. Let it anchor you.
Mostly B’s: You’re a Time Magician
Working to live (rather than living to work) is your motto, but attempts to structure your life are mostly haphazard. You frequently feel overwhelmed, so you focus on the most pressing things—and magically, they always get done. You make time for yourself, but it can be hard to fully enjoy because you haven’t left any space to handle the unexpected when it comes along.
Your goal: To create a solid foundation so you get back on track no matter what gets thrown at you, and can milk even more fun out of work and life.
Your focus: Notice what you don’t like doing or what you repeatedly do that could be easily automated or delegated to someone else. Remember to look at your systems regularly and not just at the immediate tasks in front of you.
Mostly C’s: You’re a Time Philosopher
You understand the importance of balance and making time for reflection. You have structures in place to help streamline and maintain your life, but they aren’t always effective at moving your big projects forward due to your tendency to procrastinate. This applies to your non-work life as well – you place a high premium on personal growth, but want to make more progress there, too.
Your goal: You want your day to flow and to spend your time more intentionally focused on what matters to you.
Your focus: Anchor your day with one or two key priorities that you want to start – not necessarily finish. Notice how much you can accomplish in 15 – 30 minutes of focused time.
Mostly D’s: You’re a Time Commander
You’re ambitious, organized, and able to see the easiest path to getting things done. But you can be hampered by perfectionism and trying to do everything yourself, so you tend to neglect your own needs and rarely take time to relax and decompress.
Your goal: You want to streamline your systems so you can free up time to replenish your energy stores and finally get your life back.
Your focus: Commit to the goal of balancing work and life – whatever that means to you. Question the work you commit to and whether it is truly necessary. Make room for fun.
Your Next Step
If you are ready to kick things up to the next level be sure to join the New Productivity Paradigm Facebook Group. It’s a great resource for people learning to put themselves first in order to get more done and enjoy more life in the process.