Where does your time go?
Are your days filled with reactions?
Many of the folks whom I work with on time management run through each day reactively.
Here are a few examples of what this looks like:
Sound familiar? In this mode, you may end up getting things done but it's tough to feel productive. Folks in reaction-mode feel like their time is out of their control - like they’re being pulled in too many directions.
And they're right.
By not setting conscious priorities, it’s easy to waste time even when working long hours. In corporate jobs, there are always plenty of squeaky wheels needing grease. In academia, no one provides a clear roadmap of what needs to be done, so it’s easy to lose days, weeks, or months in limbo.
Take control of your time with 3 questions
The first step you can take in (re-)gaining control of your time is to consciously prioritize. This involves taking a few minutes to reflect on what's most important - don’t worry, this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
Here are 3 questions to help get started on prioritization. If you’re a leader, you can answer these questions for yourself and on behalf of your team.
These 3 questions will enable you to build skills in conscious prioritization and creating realistic milestones. My clients who use these skills begin to see their days shift. Instead of reaction-mode, their days are filled with proactive choice.
Their days start to look like this:
What's the deal with burnout?
Burnout is pervasive among working professionals and COVID-19 is making it worse. Ongoing surveys indicate that rates of burnout have increased from 61% of professionals in February 2020 to 73% in May.
Job burnout is defined as: “a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. The three key dimensions of this response are overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”
Sound familiar? Too often, when it comes to burnout, we only realize that our time, energy, and health have dwindled away when it’s too late. What can we do to avert burnout before we reach that point?
What does the research say?
The academic literature on burnout has demonstrated that both characteristics of the workplace environment and individual personality can contribute to burnout - sometimes additively. Here are a few interesting learnings that I've gleaned from reading research in this area.
Aspects of the workplace that contribute to burnout include:
What can I do to address burnout?
Many of my clients, when we first start working together, are overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted. I’ve found 3 areas that have helped them, drawing from the academic literature that I cited above as well as my own experiences with burnout.
My Request from You
I’m honestly truly fulfilled when I see overburdened clients make a few small changes and take back control of their time and energy.
Know anyone at risk of burning out? Willing to introduce us?
I’m offering a free 30-minute coaching session for you in exchange for 1-3 email introductions to your friends, relatives, or colleagues who could benefit from coaching focused on averting burnout.
I'm writing this blog to share my perspective on career transitions, time management, and personal growth.