“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” ― Aristotle
You don’t have a time management problem.
You probably think you do, but the reality is that everyone has the same amount of time. In fact, and you may want to take a deep breath here: you have plenty of time.
What you may have is a “people pleasing” problem.
Do you struggle with saying no? Are you worrying about what other people think of you? Do you need people to like you in order to feel OK? Are you afraid of conflict?
To the degree that you are emotionally attached to people seeing you and reacting to you in emotionally comfortable ways, you will be spending your time ineffectively. In the effort to people please you’ll be working on the wrong things, stopping when you should continue, continuing when you should stop, saying yes when you really want to say no, and be muddled and indirect in your communication.
Trying to protect yourself from disappointment, dislike and conflict by working to meet other people’s expectations of you is never going to get you what you want. People’s expectations have nothing to do with you. You have no control of them and most likely most of them are made up in your own mind. Expectations and standards belong only to the person creating them. Trying to live up to these unseen and illusory standards and expectations creates an endless struggle that despite your best intentions will lead to more disappointment, dislike and conflict.
This brings up a “law of nature” that seems to apply to virtually anything.
What we are trying to avoid, we tend to attract.
Picture a herd of antelope being approached by a cheetah. The antelope that first loses its cool and attempt to avoid the threat by darting off becomes singled out for pursuit and attack.
Similarly, the advice to human beings when approached by a real life predator like a bear or a lion is to face the animal squarely and directly. Make yourself bigger. Above all, don’t run away. If still attacked, fight for your life!
Making ourselves bigger than what the instinct in the antelope part of our brains is trying to communicate is a choice. You can make this choice any time that you feel yourself shrinking.
Free up an immense amount of time and energy by refusing to play the people pleasing game. Instead create clear and powerful agreements with others. Once an agreement is made then do everything in your power to deliver on your part. More on this in my next post, You Don’t Have a Time Management Problem – Part 4, where we’ll take a look at how “time management problems” are connected to integrity.