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Column: How to bust time management myths forever

Life is busy and sometimes it is difficult to fit everything in – but making up excuses to yourself won’t get you anywhere, writes Ciara Conlon.

Ciara Conlon

LIFE IS BUSY and it’s true that sometimes it is difficult to fit it all in. Everyday life has us rushing from place to place, struggling to get our work done and complaining that we never have enough time for ourselves.

But more often than not, the reasons why we don’t get things done or why we never have enough time is because we cling onto a number of time management myths, excuses that prevent us from doing the things we know we should be doing or the things that we would really love to do.

Here are the top five excuses that prevent us from getting things done.

1. I don’t have time

This is the most common excuse and we probably all use it at least once a day. It’s most often used as a response to why you don’t exercise, or visit your mother or tick off some of the items on your bucket list. It’s rarely heard when invited to a party, for a pint or when Leinster is playing Munster.

Yes you’ve twigged it, it’s not that we don’t have time for these things it’s that we haven’t made it a priority. Take an honest look at how you spend your time. Do you spend time on social networking sites or watching TV?

A huge amount of productive time can be rescued from weeding out these useless distractions. If you don’t do any of these things and don’t waste a minute of daylight hours, try going to bed an hour earlier, and getting up an hour earlier most people are more productive early morning.

2. Only I can do it!

This is a common complaint from parents and mangers alike: “I’d be quicker doing it myself”. No – not when you are doing everything. You would be more efficient with your time if you showed your children or your team how you want it done, and next time it will be done right. There are few people in this world who have skills that nobody else has, so get someone to do the work for you.

If you work for yourself get someone to do the admin, social media, bookkeeping. If you find the housework too much, get a cleaner. If you can delegate it, delegate. Work out how expensive your own time is and then see how quickly you hire someone to do a lot of your jobs. And if you can’t afford it, ask for help at home and at work. If you want to find the time to fit things in only do what only you can do.

3. “When I clear my To Do list”

Breaking news: it will never all be done. Your To Do list will never be empty until the day you die. Realising this fact can help you to relax and accept that there is always stuff to do. The key to a happy life is to accept the busyness of life and decide to take control of your priorities. Ensure that you fit in the important stuff, the small jobs will always be there and will gradually get done. Schedule time for your family, the book you want to write, the triathlon you want to train for. The washing and ironing can wait.

4. Clean equals organised

Some people believe that if they put everything away in a drawer or on a shelf that means that they are organised and in control. Being organised means knowing where things are what to work on next. What is priority and focusing on that priority without allowing distractions to disturb your focus is being organised. Having a system to organise your tasks will help you to get and stay on track. Don’t depend on the neatly arranged folders to keep things running smoothly; you need a little more depth than that.

5. Time management disturbs creativity

Many are under the illusion that time management, organisation and productivity stifle creativity. The truth is in fact the opposite. Having your life organised and your priorities clear, helps you to maintain a relaxed mind free from worry and stress. When you are disorganised it is more difficult to focus on creating, if you mind is full of all that needs to be done there is no space for inspiration or imagination. When things are in order and scheduled it’s easier to relax and free your mind to think, to visualise and create.

So the next time you are complaining about not having enough time to do the things you want to do, stop and think. If I really want time for this, I can do something about it.

Ciara Conlon is a productivity coach and the author of Chaos To Control: A Practical Guide To Getting Things Done. If you need help making your New Year’s resolutions stick this year go to ciaraconlon.com and find out about her online course Get Set for Success: 7 Weeks to a Happier More Organised You.

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