I had lunch with a friend yesterday and she mentioned that she wanted to sign up for my upcoming workshop and then asked "I need to learn better time management and organization because I just can't ever seem to get enough done. Can you help me with that?" Um, okay - sure. My advice to you is to stop trying to do more and get down to the core of what needs to get done and do that instead. Less is the new black didn't you hear? And I looked at her confused face (probably the same one you're making as you read this) and it dawned on me that we are trained to try to be SuperWoman - capable of doing all things and conquering unreasonable lists each and every day and if we don't we are failures. Shouldn't I give her the tools to accomplish them all? Heck no!
Let me tell you a little something about your to-do list, you know the one you're so determined to time manage your way into doing? It's a big ole pile of crap that you insist on shoveling each day to make everyone (including yourself) think you've got your '$*!t" together. You don't need any more time management tricks - you need better task management skills. Don't give me your "but"s or get angry - just keep reading and I'll explain.
I got a phone call from another friend who was having a mini-meltdown over how much work she had and that she just didn't have time to do it all. Nearing the end of her day she still had 32 phone calls to make so she legitimately didn't have enough time to accomplish the tasks at hand. I'll give her that. But I asked a simple question instead - how many of those 32 phone calls are "so critical that if you don't do them today the world just may end"? And after a few deep breaths and a few more repeats of the question (she's stubborn), she came back with a new number. 5. There were 5 calls that she absolutely could not miss that day. So - did she have time to make those 5 calls? Yes. In fact once those 5 calls were made she looked at the list again and made a few more tier 2 calls. It became easier to get through the tasks by focusing on only a few items at a time and she went home feeling like she accomplished some important things instead of feeling like she hadn't done anything on her list.
See we get so tied up and twisted inside with our massive pile of crap tasks that our gems - the really important diamonds that will propel us towards our dreams and goals - get lost somewhere in between. I do not doubt that we can justify that each and every task on our list is critical - I'm sure that cleaning your baseboards is critical to your mental health, but I'd have to argue with you that having clean baseboards isn't really a top tier project. Why are you wasting your energy doing menial tasks, things that make you smelly and dirty and feel bad that you didn't do them all? The real way to accomplish more is to toss out all of the crap on your list and just do a few truly important things. Time management isn't the trick - it's task management. Spend your energy on things that propel you forward. And if you have some extra time left over then dive into your pile of crap - or go enjoy your life the way you're meant to.