Time and choices: As women in tech, we can probably all agree that there’s never enough of either. And sometimes (OK, all the time) we feel we’re expected to sacrifice one for the other. “Something’s gotta give,” right?
It’s all about taking charge. When you have control of your time, it actually leads to more choices, not less. For instance, if you had an extra hour a day to use however you’d like, what would you do?
- Work on that killer startup idea you can never seem to get to?
- Take your son or daughter out for ice cream after school?
- Build out a pitch for that new project you want to present to the Board of Directors?
- Book (and actually show up for) a deep-tissue massage or yoga hour?
Sounds good, right? But since you don’t currently have that extra hour in your schedule, you will have to create one. It’s not as ugly as it sounds. For me, I don’t subscribe to the early risers club. I relish the idea of ‘me time’ but a 530am work-out is just not in the cards. So, if that works best for you I am a bit jealous. You might ask, how do I squeeze time out of my back-to-back schedule?
Back when I kept an analog calendar, I used the FranklinCovey method to manage priorities and time. The big takeaway from this was the 1) importance of booking meetings with myself and 2) prioritizing my activities based on importance to me. The result was time that was hard-wired into my calendar for my own personal use.
And it’s not just me
Experts like Suzy Welch back me up when it comes to making decisions that will deliver in both time and choices. Her 10-10-10 strategy allows you to match expectations and values based on your priorities.
As with the FranklinCovey method, Suzy’s solution helps you get clarity on what your true priorities are, so you can tackle them more efficiently. It gives you permission to own your truth, and take action.
Another way of looking at taking control of your time comes from Meredith Kraus, Director of HR at Merck Research Laboratories. She suggests tackling today by looking at the future.
Meredith’s process involves weighing options as if you had already made the decision, and you’re looking back on it from the future. Say to yourself:
- How will I feel in 12 months if I don’t ______________?
I’ll regret _____________________________________.
- How will I feel in 12 months if I do________________?
I’m really glad that ____________________________.
So how am I doing?
Today, I use iCal, and create multiple calendars with colors that dot my screen. One of those colors maps to a self-care calendar began as a way to steal 10 minutes a day just for me. At first, it was nearly impossible to follow through with those 10-minute “meetings;” I could always find a reason that I just didn’t have the time/should keep powering through this report/had to prepare for that meeting tomorrow/whatever.
Yeah, whatever. So how did I eventually make all that happen—and more? I compromised. With myself.
I decided if I took 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week, I was successful. Once I got that mastered (and discovered that the world did not stop turning when I did), I started doing it five days a week. And then I extended those 10 minutes, to 15, 30, 45. . .
Today I take an hour a day minimum, and I still book additional “meetings” with myself to get work done whenever I need to.
So here’s my challenge to you: Start today with 10 minutes, and see where it takes you. Maybe you’ll break a bad habit that’s been holding you back–or even gain a fantastic new one that’ll bring new opportunities to the table. What have you got to lose?
Nothing—except maybe 10 minutes of stress you didn’t need in the first place, right?