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Running Out Of TIme?

Running Out of Time?

"Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence--neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish-- it is an imponderably valuable gift."
-Maya Angelou

Do you constantly feel like you are on overload? Do you tell yourself that you'll spend more time doing something that's important but not urgent 'when things slow down a little' or 'after we finish this next big project - ?

Being technically proficient in your business or profession will only get you so far 'especially if you feel like you're on a runaway treadmill. To gain some control and sanity, you may need to organize your time differently.

Most business owners, executives, and professionals spend their time in four ways:

Free Time 'time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate
Creative Time 'time to generate new ideas
Delivery Time 'time to deliver the product/service that is core to your work
Support Time 'time to handle the 'behind the scenes' or administrative functions necessary to support you in getting the results you desire.

These four areas of time are very connected, so what you do with one dimension of time affects the others. Have you ever noticed how taking Free Time to rest and rejuvenate enables you to come back to your work with a fresh perspective - one that enables you to be much more creative?

Creative Time enables you to work ON your business. It's tough to have an objective vantage point when you're 'in the trenches' all the time. Taking a step back to see the 'big picture' is essential if you want to generate fresh ideas and find new solutions to challenges.

Delivery Time enables you to work IN your business. You may already spend much of your time here. The key is to remember that it doesn't matter how much Delivery Time you spend if what you're delivering isn't what matters most to you or your company - and if what you deliver and how you deliver it is not valued by the recipient of your products or services. Direction and priorities are generally determined during Free Time and Creative Time.

Part of your success requires spending some Support Time tending to details 'responding to email and phone calls, reading, writing, reviewing, evaluating, filing, etc. Of course, some of this can be delegated to others. If you ignore the details that support your core deliverable, it will affect your ability to be productive or deliver the best quality product or service. In addition, you will not feel like you can take Free Time if the unhandled details are constantly nagging at you.

Without Free Time, stress and overload set in. Then it's difficult to be in a frame of mind to take Creative Time. This pushes you to work harder IN your business (Delivery Time), which results in taking a reactive rather than a proactive approach to managing challenges. This rarely results in the best quality results, and often adds to burnout.

Changing Habits

Choosing to live a more thoughtful, self-directed life in the midst of a society that seems to thrive on a frenzied pace requires determination, planning, and self-discipline. According to behavior change experts, you have to believe in the values behind the change, or it will not stick.

For example, if you promise your family that you will work less hours, but you're not mentally committed to such a change, your odds of maintaining your commitment drop. It's difficult to sustain such a promise if the reward for working longer hours is greater than the reward for getting home earlier.

G. Alan Marlatt, professor of psychology and director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, studies people who are successful in long-term change. Marlatt says that it gets easier after the first 90 days. At that point, the chances of a relapse drop from 85 percent to 20-30 percent. He also points out that adding a new behavior is easier than trying to give something up.

Marlatt's tips:

- Self monitor. If you're relying on internal motivation (as opposed to having a coach or an addiction counselor), keep a daily chart of progress for the first 90 days. Note what needs to be fine-tuned. If you feel you might slip, make note 'either in a journal or a note card or a bold message on your morning mirror 'to get back on track.

- Social support. Find someone or a group of people trying to make similar changes. Meet with them or e-mail them or join a chat room. If you're not into strangers, get a comrade, coach or family member to be your support.

- Keep your rewards high. New clothes for that lost weight? A weekend away for that pared down to-do list? That keeps motivation high. Success leads to success.

- Watch your self-criticism. If people go off course, the tendency is to say, "Oh, this proves I have no willpower." That's self-defeating and it undermines motivation.

- Remind yourself of goals. What is it you're trying to change? Some people carry reminder cards that list what they want to accomplish. One man trying to quit smoking simply carried a photo of his young son.

- Have a plan for when obstacles arise. How will you get back on track? It's important not to overreact but to regroup. "I missed two days of exercise, but I won't miss a third."

The biggest trigger for reverting to old behaviors is a negative emotional state, such as feeling angry or depressed, especially if you turned to your old habit for comfort. Think of what you could do instead. Call a friend. Take a walk. Sing a song. Do something that feels good right away'something that will break the habit you've previously fallen into when in a negative emotional state.

It's easier to create a new habit than it is to stop doing an old one. So, instead of saying, 'Don't work past 6 PM,' it may work better to have a specific plan for the evening: 'Be home for 6:30 dinner with my family.'

Don't be too harsh on yourself if you backslide 'that's normal. As long as you have some success, you are moving closer to your goal. Some habits take an average of 12 attempts to quit, according to Marlatt. But you need a plan to keep from backsliding too far. "If you have a flat tire, it doesn't mean you're not going to finish the trip," Marlatt says. "It just means you've got to fix it up before you continue."

Having a mentor such as a coach can provide structure, accountability, support and expertise to make changes stick. Coaches generally schedule a weekly check-in time by phone to talk about goals and progress.

It's your choice!

I hear clients say, 'I just don't have enough time!' The reality is that we all get 168 hours a week. Challenges arise 'not
because you don't have enough time 'but when you have not carefully clarified and stuck with your priorities.

A couple years ago Krispy Kreme donuts moved into the Seattle area, where I live. I remember reading in the paper about the Grand Opening frenzy. The drive-through line stretched for blocks, and some people drove hundreds of miles, only to wait several hours in line to sink their teeth into a Krispy Kreme donut! There were even police officers hired to control the Krispy Kreme gridlock that ensued! So how is it that we have time to stand in line several hours for a box of donuts, but we don't have time to do a gazillion other things that are on our to-do lists? Perhaps it's because Krispy Kreme serves comfort food. People are emotionally hungry, and the donuts fill a hole.

The bottom line is this: when something is really important to you 'when you feel motivated by your inner desires 'you will make the time for it! It's difficult to sustain such things as a promise of getting home earlier if the reward for doing so does not outweigh the motivation for staying later at the office to work.

I've recently returned from being away from my office for nine days. Re-entry is challenging because of the backlog of e-mails, phone calls, mail, etc. It's easy to fall into the trap of working longer hours to get caught up. But if the truth be told, I'll never be caught up. There will always be something else that I could do, no matter how many hours I work.I've found that when I schedule time for my top priorities, I am much more productive. Sure, some things don't get done, but when I plan ahead, the things that do get done are the things that really matter. By being more productive during the day, I can get the same amount of work done and leave my office earlier. When I neglect to do my planning, productivity goes way down, stress goes up, and so do my work hours!

-- Now is a great time to assess how you spend your time, based on your goals, talents, and passions! --

There's no magic formula as to how much time each of us should spend in the four areas of time mentioned earlier. That is determined by your goals, talents, and passions. Perhaps you are most gifted and have the most fun when creating new ideas. You may choose to carve out more creative time and delegate much of the refinement and delivery to someone else. Or if you find your greatest gifts and passions are in delivery or managing the details, you may choose to spend minimal time with the creative elements of your work.

Not sure what the best fit is for you or others you work with?

Check out these excellent assessment tools:

* The DiSC Profile enables you to learn more about your behavioral style, and to understand and appreciate differences in others.

* Team Dimensions Profile enables you to discover which dimensions of a project are the best fit with your natural talents and working style. With this information, you and others you work with may decide to rework who is responsible for different parts of a project.

* Tired of running out of time? Bridge the time gap! The Time Mastery Profile can help you identify your biggest time wasters and get concrete solutions to your most difficult challenges with managing time.

-- Are you on the right path? --

Answer these questions (in writing!) to determine if you are on the path you choose.

* Do your daily actions reflect what you want for your life? Identify what you enjoy the most and what you're most naturally gifted at doing.

* What do you choose to delegate or say no to so you can spend most of your time doing what you're best at and enjoy the most? (Visit: for tips on delegation.)

* Imagine what you want your life to be like a year from now. What will be possible when you organize your time differently so you can spend it the way you want?

* As you review the four areas of time, where do you choose to spend more time or less time than you currently spend? Write down what you choose for each area.


Free Time 'One additional day a week
Creative Time ' An additional 'day a week
Delivery Time 'Keep the same as now
Support Time 'Delegate enough of this so I can spend more time in Free and Creative Time. Refine processes and systems so I can be most efficient with the tasks I will manage for myself.

Now that you are clear about how you choose to shift the way you spend time, what is the next step you will take to put this into action? What will support you in making this happen?

Contact me at to request a complimentary coaching call if you'd like to explore the possibility of working with me as your coach. There is no cost and no obligation for the first call. Then we can both determine if we are the "right fit" for working together. If not, I can refer you to a trusted coaching colleague.

About the Author

Kathy Paauw helps busy executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs de-clutter their schedules, spaces and minds so they can focus on what's most important. She is an organizing & productivity consultant, certified professional & personal coach, and speaker. Contact Kathy via email: or visit her website at and learn how you can find anything you file or store in 5 seconds'guaranteed!


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