As the first month of 2019 comes to a close, I would love to invite you to reflect on how you have spent your time and energy . . . and offer you a better way to manage these most precious resources of yours.
At the start of the year when goal setting is at a peak, we tend to put a lot on our plate and have the mentality of doing as much as we can. But then by February or maybe March, we’re burned out, we end up feeling like we failed, and then we beat ourselves up and make the same resolutions again the following year.
There is a way we can avoid going through this cycle of doing too much, burning out, feeling like failures, and repeating the same resolutions over and over again.
This is something that’s become incredibly important for me because I have more on my plate now than ever before. I’m also recovering from over a decade of forcing things to happen, overworking and pushing way too hard and way too fast. In the past, my idea of “time management” was just to work and work until I ran out of time and then I’d do the rest tomorrow. And although I might have gotten a lot done, my energy was zapped along with my personal life and overall well being. I have learned – the hard way – that effective and healthy time management is not so much about managing how to get a lot done but rather managing our energy.
So my word this year when it comes to “time management” is PACING. I love this word so much and the main reason I love this word is because when I was going way too fast, people would always tell me, “Christine, you need to slow down. You just need to rest.” This would always produce one of two reactions. I would either say “no, I can’t slow down because I have way too much to do” or I would slow down because I thought I should, but then I’d get bored and when I did get back to it, I would have to speed everything up again because things had fallen behind.
To me, that isn’t a very effective use of our time or our energy. So I’ve really taken on this word PACING because it really is about pacing ourselves according to our own energy. When we pace, it’s not about speeding up or slowing down, it’s about pacing ourselves according to what we need.
There are times in my day that I need to speed up a little bit more and I manage those times in my day by when I’m most productive. I know I’m most productive after my workout from 11am – 1pm. And then after lunch, from 2pm-4pm. And so that’s when I really plan most of my day and because I pace myself, I know when I need to slow down. During the day when my brain starts to turn off around 6pm, it’s okay because I’ve scheduled my day around that since I know that’s when I start to slow down. So that’s an example of how to manage your time and energy just according to your natural rhythm.
Play around with this. Start to pace your day according to your natural rhythms. Start thinking about what times do you feel most alert? When are you least distracted? When are you able to really sit and focus on something? Then make these your higher paced times and experiment with them. And when you get hungry or you notice that you are getting brain fog, or you’re working on a project but you are wondering “what’s happening on Instagram?” this is usually the time when you need to slow down your pace. Instead of slowing down your productivity, maybe this is a time where you take a break, meditate or exercise, go for a walk or have dinner, or connect with your loved ones.
No one can tell you what your pace is other than you. And that’s the beauty of pacing – you set the pace. You don’t listen to anyone else telling you when you need to hustle, and when you need to slow down and rest. You set the pace according to your internal clock, and when you’re pacing yourself, you can modify as needed. Some days we have more energy than others. Some days we can accomplish more and other times we need to do less. Pacing is adjustable according to your own individual needs, and not just some “time management” tool or technique.
I encourage you to look at your time and energy more in the sense of pacing and letting it flow, and go according to both what you have on your to-do list and also your natural rhythms. What I have found with time management and trying to block time, is that you can block time all you want, but if you’re going against your own natural pace, it’s not going to go well and you’re just setting yourself up for what you probably would judge as failure.
We all go through different seasons in life, and there are times of the year where we want to go a little slower and times when we want to go a little faster. Give yourself permission to pace rather than always going “all in” and then only resting when you get burned out.
When you work according to your own natural rhythms and you manage your time and energy based on this, you don’t have to beat yourself up for how much you got done in a day because you are honoring your own pace. If you wake up one day not feeling super clear, not feeling well, you can slow down your pace and work and manage your time according to that. If you honor this natural rhythm of yours and pace according to it, you may notice the next day you can go a little faster.
Again, this is something that you have to feel into on your own. We are all so different and you can find what works best for you, by really listening to your own internal clock and your own internal rhythm through this concept of pacing. You don’t have to just be in hustling mode or in resting mode, you can pace yourself and choose what gear you want to shift into for today.
P.S. There are a few spots left for my annual Spring Women’s Retreat. If you have been thinking about it and you are on the fence, click here to learn more and apply now.
P.P.S. Join me February 12th for a special live coaching group call. Click here to learn more and join!