Maximize your time management in 2019 and give your future-self something to celebrate.
“Men, by and large, are looking for more time. They want to move the needle in their job and advance; have time to exercise; be with family, a spouse, kids; or develop a social life and new relationship, and develop a passion,” says Julie Morgenstern, organizing and productivity consultant and The New York Times best-selling author of Never Check Email in the Morning.
Do you need to manage your time better?
If there is anything meaningful and fulfilling in your life that you can’t find time for, then yes. Playing basketball on the weekend counts. Morgenstern says the majority of her male clients want to improve productivity in one or more of the following areas: exercise, relationships, or a passion project. Here’s how they do it.
“Men get very self-critical when they’re concerned about time-management,” Morgenstern says. “They assume, ‘I must be lazy or it must be a psychological issue.’ It’s not. It’s a mechanical skill and should be treated as one.”
Think about it this way: Where do I have a block of X minutes to fit X task?
Starting your day with the greatest things on your to-do list transforms your sense of control and impact.
Avoid staring at your TV, phone, or computer for 60 minutes in the morning and at night. “Completely avoid all screens for the first and last waking hour of every day,” Morgenstern says. “Don’t bring your device to bed. Ban screens from the edges of your day and set social media time, email time, etc. If you are addicted to your device, it will steal your ability to be present, effective, and efficient in everything you’re doing.”
Managing your screen time is the No. 1 thing you can control that directly relates to your productivity. Understand that some time-management obstacles are more difficult to change, for instance, a demanding job with a 24/7 culture.
At work, we’re busy checking email, logging into social media, using messaging apps, and checking off miniscule to-dos that are really procrastination devices. These give us a false sense of importance and accomplishment. Change the way you work and do the deep thinking and heavy lifting first.
“Starting your day with the greatest things on your to-do list transforms your sense of control and impact. You can react to the rest of the day from a place of having the big thing done,” explains Morgenstern.
“Everybody needs a calendar that captures 100-percent what they need to do,” Morgenstern says. That calendar should include your to-do list. “A ‘to-do’ not connected to a ‘when’ rarely gets done. Block how long your tasks will take and when you’ll do them. All we have to work with is our time. Allot for meetings, to-dos, and the response or processing of all your results. You can also try out online apps to better manage your time.”
Time-management goes wonky when interruptions disrupt our to-do list. Use a technique called “the three-day arc,” where you plan the next day and look forward to the following two the night before.
“Instead of waiting for the morning, plan your day at the end of the last so you can mentally and physically prepare. Look at time gaps and get familiar with your deliverables. That way, when the day brings surprises, you’ll know how to prioritize and where the tasks can fit into your time,” says Morgenstern.
Move to short-format practices and don’t give up the things that make you feel good.
Morgenstern uses the acronym SELF in her new book, Time to Parent. It stands for Sleep, Exercise, Love, and Fun — the four activities men need to feel balanced, healthy, and whole. Look at which you’re doing and which you’re not. Start balancing the scales.
In college, it was easy to practice SELF-care because you were single, didn’t have a job, and felt less pressure to excel. Now your time is pulled in so many directions it seems impossible to spend an hour at the gym. “Learn to work in small bursts,” Morgenstern says, meaning 20-minute doses or less.
Weave working out into your routine with a 10-minute resistance band circuit or plan to write, paint, or play an instrument during your lunch break. Meet up with your spouse for a lunch date instead of a weekend dinner. Move to short-format practices and don’t give up the things that make you feel good.
“It’s common for men to feel guilty about asking for time,” Morgenstern says. “Instead, trade time with your spouse or girlfriend. Relieve them from the kids/chores to go to the gym on Saturday and then you get a Sunday afternoon. As long as you both get equal time.”
This one is simple: Don’t wait for time to open up. That’s like hoping you’ll find $100 on the street. If you want and need to do something, find or trade a short block of time and make it a ritual. Protect that time and don’t apologize for taking it.
“To solidify new habits, start with introducing only one at a time,” Morgenstern says. “Once you change one, it’s easier to change another, and one little habit is really a web of habits. Track whether you did your new habit every day. It should be a yes or no answer. Also, track how you felt on days you did and did not complete it.”
Put this on your calendar and start with exercise if you don’t already make time for it.
“Doing fitness for yourself gives you such a sense of confidence and control. It changes your brain chemistry, changes mood, gives you energy, it helps you sleep better, and then from there, you have more energy, perspective, and brain power to tackle the other things,” she elaborates.
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