QuaranTIME

TIME
If I’m learning anything in quarantine (A LOT — I’M LEARNING A LOT), it’s about the mystery of this thing called TIME. I have found myself marveling at the experience of time feeling like it’s just dripping by so slowly, until all of the sudden, it’s just — poof — gone. It’s wild.
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I know I’m not alone, because all my clients and friends have talked at length about their disbelief over time disappearing, their battles with distraction, the inability to focus, etc. Personally, I’ve had to lean into my time management strategies more than ever to get even the tiniest things done. Tiny is the KEY. Tiny blocks of time have actually been my most powerful tool these last 11 weeks.
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Truth is, I still consider myself a time management apprentice, because I’m constantly learning new ways to up-level my productivity game. But foundational to it all is the massive mindset shift I made ages ago. I learned it from my coach and friend, Patty Lennon, who taught me this mind blowing fact: we often overestimate what we can accomplish in large blocks of time, and at the same time underestimate what we can accomplish in short blocks of time. I can remember saying, “I only have 30 minutes! I can’t get anything done in that short of a window.” FALSE. Once I ditched that mindset, I became amazed at what I could accomplish. I’m using this strategy more than ever these days.
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The trick for me is to block time on my calendar,
and to assign a project or task to the block. Example: I treat email like a project, instead of like an afterthought. For me, a lot of work email I receive requires thoughtful responses, and thoughtful responses take TIME. So I create space for it, instead of trying to cram it into cracks. I’m not perfect, and some of my regular rules about email time blocks have slipped in quarantine (I may or may not be guilty of 11 pm emails lately 😬 — working to rein it back in!). But I’m not snacking on email in between stuff, and that’s been really helping me to wrangle my inbox gone wild.
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When I’m really feeling the pull of distractions, I use a timer. I find it so grounding to know that the period of focused attention, of working on something that requires concentration, will end with a pleasant *ding*, and this makes it easier for me to settle into something. I turn off all the notifications on my devices, put my phone across the room, and get to work. I’m even capitalizing on 15-minute sprints, and yes, I sometimes use a timer for these shorter blocks, because the distractions are powerful and for real.
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BTW (as I shared on Instagram), this is something even those of you wrangling little ones at home right now can try. Each of you pick a short project. Discuss how it’s going to work, that you’re each going to work on your own thing for the duration of the timer. You’ll compare progress and can discuss when the bell dings. It will be fun and exciting to see what you each can do! Then, set a timer for 5-15 minutes (up to 45, depending on the age of your small people, of course) and get to work. Accept that it may fail, and try again with a different timer duration later. See what happens!
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I loathe the feeling of time evaporating. This is tied to my personal belief that our one actual non-renewable resource is in fact, time. In *the before* you could often hear me coaching “Be judicious with your time and energy!” I still feel the same way, but recognize we’ve all been off kilter with our skills lately. Me included. Time with loved ones is one of my highest priorities, so this time in quarantine, worrying about them at a distance, has been brutal. Distracting to say the least. If you’re feeling this – try my little time block trick to gain a bit of mastery back over your time. Let me know how this goes for you, I’d love to hear.
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