How many times have you asked yourself, “Where does the time go?” or told yourself, “There are simply not enough hours in the day to…”? I am almost certain it is a common question you ask yourself or is the precursor to a sentence indicating you are struggling managing work, family, personal time, time with friends, hobbies, and everything else you are balancing in a struggle to maintain some level of harmony amongst priorities. If it does not sound familiar, then bless your ability (or gift) to manage time and priorities.
Unfortunately, despite how balanced I consider my life, I find myself saying either one of those statements more often than I like. If you knew my life, you would understand why my most (if not all) of friends often ask me how I balance my extremely busy life. I admit, it is quite possible I could be the poster child of “work-life-balance” (for a non-celebrity (though many of them have personal assistants). As a matter of fact, as I type this, I am on a 14-hour flight (work travel) from Qatar to Washington, DC via Manila, Philippines. Oddly, though on this quite long flight, I had to “fit” this newly decided “ contribution article” in with other priorities I planned to work on while on travel and having many very long flights (i.e. write 2 business blogs, add additional chapters to my book, prepare questions for my podcast on Saturday, read and comment on discussion board questions and prepare activities and discussions for the MBA class I instruct, write my staff’s end of year annual evaluations, prepare my 2017 accomplishment statements for my own annual evaluation, and I can name a few more things on my list of to-do’s while traveling across the globe… literally). And let me not even begin to mention my personal life and the plans I have coming up that I have to make time for or prepare for. All the time, I am a significant other, a “mother”, a Pma (pseudo grandmother), a friend, a daughter, an auntie, a sister, an avid traveler, socialite, and a newly added is being a bridesmaid for a friend’s coming wedding. Believe me, I did not share what I did to brag; because, let’s face it, who in the hell wants all of their time occupied by being busy (productive busy or not). I merely shared because my goal is not only to be relatable to those who have a lot going on; but also, be honest of how I am able to balance (or dare I say juggle) it all for those who would like do more with limited time and are unsure of how to. I have to be honest, my practices are not arduous and my philosophy of time management is quite simple. Let me start with the easiest practice first, which is also my most important practice…schedule, schedule, schedule! My next two are probably the hardest to internally process without feeling guilty; which is to be realistic for yourself and that it is completely okay to postpone goals or tasks.
In a world centered on technology and electronic calendars, there is no reason why time is not able to be made (of course there are stipulations to this). My most pressing recommendation is to make use of your calendar(s). BUT, let’s be honest, is there anything that makes people cringe more or sounds more insulting then someone saying “get on my schedule” or “let me pencil you in”? Let me just say, it is not about them, it is about you. It something you will have to get used to. If you are reading this and are one of the people that are offended by those words; from now on, I would ask that you not get offended by those remarks, but to embrace or appreciate them. Why? Because it means a very busy person is letting you know you matter to them though their life is hectically busy (and quite possibly they are giving in to their “ me time” to make time for you. Trust me when I say, little things are simple things to someone who feels they are moving and living in milliseconds of each day.
Be Realistic For YOU
Believe it not, the only person that hold you to your calendar or your schedule is YOU, and guess what…your body may tell you something different and you need to listen to it. I believe in living my life authentically, so let me be honest and say this: I was not able to get through half of things I had planned while traveling (for one reason or another). Some of the reasons were because technology did not work in my favor no Wi-Fi capability) and other reasons were simply because my body was tired and attempting to suffer through the work day while adjusting to jetlag. Do I feel bad that these things happened…NOT ONE BIT. In a recent lecture and dialogue with my class, the discussion of being a leader and working all of the time was examined. Let me share with you what I shared with my professional students (MBA candidates) about management and leadership:
“Majority of the expectation(s) of how much time is spent working is self-inflicted. Yes, self-inflicted. Leaders and good managers are people that seem to work a lot either love what they do or feel they have no choice (usually because they set up an expectation to their leadership to be present without boundaries). But realistically, how many times have you worked on something that could have been finished the next day? Some of the reasons are because your work ethic will not allow you to walk way without finishing what you are working on, you fall into a “creative zone” and if you stop would lose momentum, and or your work duties are so laborious that the demands to complete projects are beyond your control.”
The reality is (which may seem a little harsh), if you work yourself into a grave, the only people that will mourn you is your family. Though you spend majority of your life with work colleagues, managers, and leadership, the work will continue. In other words, make time for you, make time for family, and make time for friends. Nothing should replace life. That is a fact. There are a lot of very successful people who have regret about how they spent their younger years. Perhaps it is time to you are more honest and realistic about your needs (if you aren’t) and postpone things that can wait until tomorrow. All it takes is setting realistic work boundaries while instilling a positive and professional work ethic.
Postponing is NOT Procrastinating
To start, let me just say I am well aware that the definition of procrastination is “delaying or postponing something”. But I want to encourage you look at the true meaning of “postpone”. While many achievers and ambitious people plan for a lot, sometimes it never happens the way they want it to. You have to mentally accept that this is okay to have delays in your success and not feel defeated or that this is a lack of succession. I also want to emphasize that even the most successful people have had to postpone milestone accomplishments (for one reason or another). Shit happens! And when it does, continue to live, strive, balance, and move forward. You cannot “beat yourself up” over something not always going as planned (even if it incurs significant delays). Delays are ways to reevaluate (and dare I say, perfect) goals or obligations we set for ourselves. This is why I do not consider postponing as procrastinating. More time often equals better quality!
At the end of the day, balance is not solely about juggling your time; it is about knowing how to live your best life within your terms, limitations, and time management. It does take some time to find a juggle that will suit your life and trust me, yours will not be like someone else’s.