“I’ve got too much to do”……”I haven’t got enough time”…… “I need to go on a time management course”.  Sound familiar?  Most of us have said these things.  It’s a real problem – the relentless pressure of too much to do in the time available can cause stress and ultimately lead to ill-health. 

But it is a fallacy to blame a lack of time or to think that you can work faster or smarter to keep on top.  You can’t “manage” time – it will tick away regardless.  What you can do is manage how you think about yourself, your job, your life. 

Knowing what is important to you in your life. 

Are you spending enough of your time on the right things?  What gives you a sense of self-worth?  It is usually when we can’t do the things that give us a sense of self-worth and make us feel good about ourselves, that we feel the pressure of having too much to do.  Try this tool to review your priorities.

Learning to take control

Feeling at the mercy of other people’s demands undermines your self-confidence – you end up responding to their needs rather than your own.  Shift your mindset so that you don’t automatically accept all invitations or requests for help.  Learn to say “no”.  Remember that when you say no, you are refusing the request, not rejecting the person.   See page 220 of my book for more tips on this. 

Being realistic

Human beings are not good at planning realistically.  That’s why big projects over-run on cost and time.  It’s true of our personal and work lives too – we think we can do more than is feasible in the time available.  Jonathan Wolff hits a chord with me in this article when he writes “We forget that the day fills up with utterly predictable chores, even if not predicted.  We forget that we get tired”.  Allow space in your day for the things you haven’t factored in. 

I am not knocking time management tools – I find several useful, especially personal Kanban and mind-mapping – but even the most perfect tool won’t alleviate the pressures you feel if you are not spending enough of your time on the things that make you feel good.