Overwhelmed? Scattered? Frustrated? Feeling unable to keep up? Feeling pulled in all directions? These are all signs that you may not be using your time
Life is hard. Sometimes it seems the more you try, the harder it gets.
There are so many demands placed on us by our jobs, our co-workers, our spouses and our children, that sometimes we can feel like a circus juggler constantly at risk of dropping a ball. In trying to be everything to everyone, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Add to that the well known fact that stress can take years off your life, and the problem becomes very clear. There is never enough time, and we need to do something about it.
As a controller for a manufacturing business, I faced this problem daily. You could describe me as a “pleaser.” I admit that I can occasionally be unaware of my own limitations and reluctant to say no. The harder I worked, and the more I excelled at my career, the more responsibility I was given. I started as the office manager, and within in five years I was the controller, inventory manager, and in charge of customer service. I just kept taking on more and more, and although I was able to keep up, it took its toll. Stress, frustration and self-doubt followed, as I struggled to keep up with the demands and eventually had to admit that I had taken on too much. I was trying to be “everything to everybody” and was wearing myself down.
As I look back on that experience, I am determined not to make the same mistakes. In my current capacity as a business owner, I am faced with the same challenges, but with even more responsibility. I have employees with families and children who are dependent on my business for a paycheque. The buck really does stop with me. When I first started my business, I thought, “Great, now I will finally be my own boss.” Ha! It wasn’t until a year later that I realized that this was an illusion. I have fifty clients, so I have fifty bosses, and I’m responsible for keeping every one of them happy. As my business continues to grow, it demands more and more of my time. Staffs need to be hired, trained, supervised, encouraged, paid. Clients need to be identified, communicated with, provided with excellent customer service. Marketing needs to be reviewed and addressed. Administrative tasks seem never-ending, from e-mails to paying bills to trying to stay on top of changes in my industry. There is so much pressure, and so few hours in the day. The snowball effect often finds me begging for a Star Trek transporter to zap me to a deserted island. “Beam me up, Scotty…?”
At this point I should clarify something: I love owning my own business. I truly love what I do can’t imagine doing anything else. I don’t want to come off as whiny or complaining. What I really need, what I have been working on every day, is a better system to manage my time. I’ve given up on my true fantasy – finding a mad scientist willing to clone me so I could have an extra “me” to do all the unpleasant stuff, so it’s up to me to find that perfect combination of to-do lists, delegation and yoga, and I’m going to find it.
Wikipedia defines time management as: “The act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.” What a mouthful! Here’s my definition: “Finding a way to complete all the necessary tasks while maintaining health and sanity.” That’s what we all want, right? In my quest for knowledge, I have entered the internet rabbit hole, searching for blogs, medical reports, and any other information that would help me. I have now emerged, disheveled, over-caffeinated, and ready to tackle this beast called time.
Part 2: Time Management: The To Do List