A while back I went through a patch where life was so crazily busy that I felt like I was drowning. When the full impact of my busyness had drained me beyond what I could cope with I decided to get help outside myself. For the first time in my life I invested in seeing a life coach.
My coach helped me to look at my seemingly helpless situation from other points of view. I saw sides I hadn’t seen before. I could suddenly see that I was caught in the trap of saying yes to everything and everyone to keep the peace and not let people down. I saw that my goals were constantly being put on the backburner and my priorities were jumping all over the show. It was no wonder I felt overwhelmed and disheartened that I wasn’t achieving my goals.
My time management downfall…
The reason I seemed to say yes to everyone was because I had a subconscious fear of letting people down. Little did I realise at the time that I was actually doing them a disservice by not looking after myself. I wasn’t filled to a capacity that I could pour out from and my well had run dry, so to speak. It turns out that generosity, care, compassion and being a ‘yes’ person can actually be a negative if you don’t engage these things wisely. I learnt this the hard way and my mental and physical health was suffering because of it. It was subconscious self-sabotage.
So it became pretty clear that my time management and priorities were out the window. My coach helped me realise that mercilessly squeezing tasks into every minute of the day was actually highly unrealistic (even though I secretly knew that already because I never seemed to get everything done that I wanted to in a day…). I was putting way too much pressure on myself with the amount I was trying to pack in and the wide amount of goals and objectives I had going on. The split focus and busyness was draining me.
This is why I needed a time management revelation….
Working through my then not so realistic time management strategy with my coach showed me that I actually wasn't leaving myself any space to breathe, let alone reserving any energy to really gain traction on my bigger picture goals. I was constantly packing other peoples agenda’s into my own… because how could I say no when ‘technically’ I had the time available? On paper my schedule showed me that technically I could fit it in, so I kept cramming. But working with my coach helped me see that I had to be honest with myself… A constantly packed out schedule was wildly unfeasible in the long term. I needed a new strategy.
I needed to flip from feeling like I was drowning to feeling like I was on top of the world striving for my dreams and respecting my time and myself. As my coach asked me questions around ways I could create a new system for achieving this the ‘Time Bubble’ concept was born. It was empowering that it was MY concept. In the long term one of the best things about coaching was the way my coach facilitated my own creative idea generation. It meant I understood the concept 100% and it was unique to me.
How 'Time Bubbles' worked for me…
The concept was as simple as giving myself a bubble of space between activities. A miracle I know! But seriously… for my state of mind at the time this was a mind blowing concept. It sounds so simple when I say it now… but the best ideas always are! I’m an intensely visual person (I say ‘intensely’ because often I won’t understand a complicated concept until I see a diagram of it, then I understand in like two seconds…) so the visual concept of a ‘bubble’ worked really well for me. Drawing bubbles of time around a task helped me to visually manage and respect the realistic timing of a task, controlling the pace of my schedule. It illustrated to my subconscious mind that my schedule was full and that re-energising myself between tasks was actually a priority, where as previously I hadn’t given this a thought and was running myself into the ground.
Because I could fit less ‘bubbles’ into each day than I could tasks through my previous time management efforts I had to get deliberate about my priorities. Every bubble had a greater purpose such as health, relationships, career, study, relaxation, fun and so on. This empowered me to say no to the things that I wasn’t able to prioritise and yes to the things that would help me gain momentum towards achieving my goals. Talk about clarity and direction! It was the combo of time and priority management that made this so powerful for me. The best thing? I still use the philosophy of time bubbles to this day.
"Am I saying that being busy is wrong? Certainly not!
Am I saying that your busyness should ideally be sustainable and focused?
YES! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M SAYING!"
I wonder what would work for you?
Why not take a moment to have fun coming up with ways to break through your busyness and experience life how you’d love to live it. Remember that you’re in complete control of your time, what you choose to do and when and how you choose to do it. It's a powerful thought isn’t it? Yep. And it puts all the responsibility back on you. So it's time to act!
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Steph Edmunds is SESC's Certified Professional Success Coach, Speaker and Facilitator.