When your head hits the pillow does your mind scan through the day ticking off all the things you got done (and didn’t get done)? Do you ever (or maybe always) feel that time is outpacing your to-do list?
You wonder, “will I ever again be the one who’s actually in charge of my flexible schedule?” You know that schedule everyone envies but has no idea how much others intrude upon it.
More control!!! That’s obviously what you need, more control of your time and schedule.
QUESTION: What’s needed to have more control?
Maybe you need information
If so, start with a simple Google search.
Try “how to take control of my time” or maybe “how to improve my time management skills” and watch the how-to’s flood in.
That quick and easy approach will yield abundant options for you to pursue—yeah! But then there’s the time-consuming process of sorting through the volume of possibilities.
What do you need when information is not only inadequate but sort of adds to the confusion?
Maybe you need synthesized, organized, and analyzed information
Information is one small piece of the puzzle. When your skills are underdeveloped and your knowledge base incomplete, expert guidance can accelerate your progress quickly. Experts have researched, synthesized, organized, and analyzed volumes of data already. Additionally, experts skilled in communicating their expertise have helpful mental models for simplifying the data and offering novices a structure for accessing the subject more quickly.
Perhaps you’ve consulted the experts and processed the information, then you’ll need something else.
Maybe you need to apply the concepts
Knowledge is essential but insufficient. To make the fabulous ideas for managing your time and schedule actually take hold in your life, you’ll need to apply them to your challenges.
What if you have applied some new concepts with positive initial results, but for some reason, you didn’t stick with it and then forgot about them?
Maybe you need consistent practice
Making an enthusiastic start with sporadic or infrequent follow-up is common. Celebrate that you did something new and it worked! But to make those changes really stick and then become your default approach you’ll need to practice them with greater frequency and consistency.
What if you’ve tried the experts’ suggestions, but they don’t work for you, so you gave up in frustration?
Maybe you need feedback
Part of what makes learning challenging is that falling short of your expectations, dare I call it failing, is part of the process. The timeless “trial and error” approach expects that. But failure can be discouraging. To accelerate past those frustrations and improve more systematically, you definitely need some feedback to help you tweak your approaches and hone in on the strategies that fit you.
What if you’ve had every good intention to practice new approaches to prioritizing, organizing, and eliminating distractions, but when the time comes you resist doing it and stick to your same old approaches?
Maybe you need support & accountability for working through obstacles and stuck places
Just as feedback is important when you’ve experiencing setbacks, support working through stuck places and long-standing obstacles is doubly important. And when the resistance is significant, you’ll benefit tremendously from compassionate support that includes non-judgmental accountability.
Each of the needs described above are all components of learning!
Learning anything new requires a complex mixture of information, expert analysis of information, application, consistent practice, feedback, support and accountability. Plus, you’ll need each of these in varied order, intensity, and repetition depending on your existing knowledge, experience, and motivation.
Back to the Original Question:
What’s needed for you to have more control of your time and schedule?
In short—you need to CHANGE your approach to managing your time and schedule because your current approach isn’t giving you the results you want.
Changing your approach to managing your time and schedule is a learning challenge. As I just demonstrated above, learning is about far more than finding and reading information.
I know you believe learning is possible. When you share your expertise and teach others, you do this knowing they are capable of learning, especially when they follow the guidance you’re offering.
I have that same faith in you.
Invest in Yourself
But you’re the one who must make the decision to invest in yourself. To invest the time and energy needed to learn, which remember will require some combination of information gathering, analysis, application, consistent practice, feedback, support and accountability.
Let me challenge you first to notice your level of comfort in investing in yourself.
Notice what feels easy.
Also, notice when you experience feelings of guilt or begin labeling some forms of investment indulgent.
Your feelings and thoughts about the range of possible investments will bring awareness to you on this question.
Test Your Comfort with This Investment Example
Levels of investing in your well-being:
Basic level: the obvious investments: health insurance, doctors and dentist visits, quality food, and maybe a gym membership
Intermediate level: chiropractor, superfood supplements, juicer, and specialized sports equipment (e.g. bike or rowing machine)
High-end level: acupuncturist, spa treatments, Vitamix blender for smoothies, and personal trainer
Your reaction to these example categories and hierarchy of well-being investment can begin to uncover your values about investing in yourself.
After you’ve begun to gauge your comfort and willingness to invest in yourself, especially around change, identify a stretch goal you could set that will begin to increase your comfort and expand your willingness to invest in yourself.
By the Way—Education Investment?
You have a college degree and one or two graduate degrees. That’s strong evidence that you’re all about investing in yourself and your future in the area of education. The money, time, and energy devoted to years of education is a serious investment.
Back to the Original Question Again
Question: What’s needed to have more control of your time and schedule?
Obvious answer: Invest in yourself to change whatever isn’t giving you the results you want and you know you’re capable of achieving.
My Experience Investing in Myself
I faced this question during my higher ed career. Yes, I was a tenured professor. Yes, I knew the pressures and rewards of publishing, teaching, leadership, and service. But I also struggled with time-management, getting organized, focused attention, and even learning challenges.
After years of frustration, I finally cracked the code! I figured out how to invest in myself! I’ve dedicated recent years to learning new things! I’ve created new habits and developed a system for managing it all that works for me!
Investing in myself has changed my life quite literally. I’ve changed my career path. Now I support faculty in higher ed to tame the chaos in their lives and unleash the actual flexibility, rather than just the potential, that their flexible schedule offers!