I recently attended the Art of Leadership for Women conference in Calgary and was excited to be able to attend sessions delivered by Arianna Huffington (founder of Thrive Global and author of The Sleep Revolution) and Tiffany Dufu (founder of a peer coaching company for women and author of Drop the Ball). I came away with many interesting tidbits, not the least of which was delivered by Laura Vanderkam (author of I Know How She Does It). Laura’s session was all about time management, something that many of us are good at handling, but most of us can improve upon. Laura shared seven strategies from her book to help people get control of their time and I am going to share those strategies with you in this two-part blog.
#1 – Figure out where your time is going
Spend one week (or more) keeping track of everything that you do using a spreadsheet, notebook, or scheduling app. This might seem totally overwhelming, but the literature suggests that we manage what we monitor most effectively (which is why people trying to lose weight are often encouraged to keep a food journal). Most of us don’t want to know how much time we are wasting on social media, watching TV, or otherwise, but this exercise will help you to get clear on what you spend most of your time doing, what you would like to do more of, and what you could potentially limit or stop doing altogether.
#2 – Look forward
Make a list of what you would like to spend more time doing (personally and professionally). You can do this by giving your future self a performance review. In other words, imagine it’s December 2018 and you are at a work party telling someone the amazing things you accomplished in your work and home life during the last year. These are the things you want to spend time doing during the latter part of 2018.
#3 – First thing’s first
People spend much of their time doing things that are urgent, but not important (e.g., responding to email). Know that time will stretch to accommodate what you need (or want) to put into it (e.g., think of the last time you had a crisis in your life and how you managed to deal with your flooded basement or tend to your parent in the hospital). Remember that we do what we prioritize and as such everything we spend time doing is a choice. So, figure out what your goals are each week (preferably in relation to your priorities outlined in #2) and front-load them at the beginning of your week. This ensures they will get done (because let’s be honest, other things always comes up).
#4 – Move time around
Did you know that 75% of professional women with children do something personal during “work hours” and the same percentage of those women do something professional during “home hours”? It is important to remain flexible about when things happen and consider working in “split shifts” so that you can do the bulk of the work early in the day, take time off to be with family / partners in the late afternoon and early evening, and then complete low energy work-related items later in the evening. This might not work for all schedules every day but can be applied to the entire week as well (i.e., shifting some work to the weekend).
Think about where you spend your time, and how you might prioritize your tasks more efficiently. In Part 2, I’ll share the other three tips for time management from Laura Vanderkam.
Marie K. Holowaychuk, DVM, DACVECC is a small animal emergency and critical care specialist and certified yoga and meditation teacher with an invested interest in the health and well-being of veterinary professionals. She facilitates wellness workshops, boot camps, and retreats for veterinarians, technicians, students, and other veterinary team members. To sign up for newsletters containing information regarding these events and veterinary wellness topics, go to www.criticalcarevet.ca.