Years ago, a client came to see me. She said she struggled with time management, reporting that she was always late to stuff, struggling to finish projects on time. She had a million things on her plate. She was frustrated, feeling like a crappy mom and a crappy boss. She pleaded for my help with time management, wanting to be better at managing it all.
Near the end of her appointment, I reviewed some of what we discussed, as well as her goals. Time management, she assured me, that was her priority. I got quiet for a second, and I wondered aloud. “Do you think the issue is that you don’t manage your time well, or do you think the issue is that you’re trying to manage too much?” My question caught her off guard, though to be honest, it’s one I ask a lot.
So often people tell me they struggle with time management, but I’m slow to be convinced. I’ve found that most people are trying to manage too much. They’re trying to do it all. Therefore, the issue isn’t really time management. It’s stacking too much on your plate and then expecting yourself to manage it all. That’s not a time management issue. That’s a “you’re trying to do too much” issue.
If you think you struggle with time management, here’s what I want you to ask yourself when you feel overloaded.
Is this because I’m not managing my time well, or is this because I’m trying to manage too much?
If the answer is truly that you’re not being efficient and effective with the hours in your day, then by all means, let’s work on some management skills. But if the issue is that you’re trying to do too much, that’s a different story. You need to step back and reevaluate what can go and what can stay.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We can’t get an A in everything, all of the time. It’s not possible. If you’re trying and failing and thinking the issue is time management, take a moment to reconsider. Ask yourself the question. Is it because I’m not managing my time well or because I’m trying to manage too much? You might be surprised at the answer.
PS: Do you have too much on your plate? If so, check out this video, which includes my favorite piece of advice for making peace with not doing it all.