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I do a variety of things as a serial entrepreneur, often very different from each other. So how do I manage all of it without losing track or my head?
A question that I am asked repeatedly is – “How on earth do you manage to work on so many things?” I know that most of the people asking me this assume that I achieve this feat quite efficiently. Only I know that the truth is far from it!
Let me start by talking about a typical day in my life. Well, wait, there is no such day really. Owing to being involved in multiple lines of work, every day is different, every day poses a new challenge, and every day I have a different set of tasks to accomplish. There are times when I run on frenzied schedules for days altogether and then there is a quieter phase that follows, which, however, does not last that long.
Then how does the time management happen? At times, I feel that it manages itself because my brain is scattered all over the place at that point. And then there are times when I realise that the idea of ‘taking each day as it comes’ is my best bet. However, there are 10 things I believe in and try my best to follow to get some sort of order to the chaos.
Effective time management often comes from introspection. Yes, as idealistic it may sound, knowing what we truly want to give time to is necessary. Responsibilities, passions, dreams, and purpose – all of these are drivers for us to decide what warrants our time. Otherwise, it ends up becoming an endless race against time, without really devoting ourselves to what keeps us ticking.
One must understand that time management is essentially all about priorities and sticking by them. There is no point in repenting or indulging in self-pity for not being able to do something which does not really figure in your current scheme of things.
For example, as a blogger, I have never participated in any of the coveted and extremely beneficial blogging challenges because of lack of time and space. Under no circumstances did I fret over missing out on them. Similarly, when it comes to leisure, I prefer to spend time with friends instead of watching latest series or movies, even though I was a movie buff earlier. We all have 24 hours in a day and that is that!
Women, especially, are always struggling to do it all because after all, the superwoman syndrome is ingrained deep in our societal structures. This conditioning is a huge deterrent to efficiency. I realized one golden mantra long back which greatly helped me improve my productivity – I am not a superwoman and I do not need to be one. I decide what matters to me and what I am responsible for. Say no to social pedestals!
Nothing works as well as the good old approach of writing it all down. To-do lists with deadlines mentioned can help immensely when planning your schedule.
My daughter finds my diary quite hilarious because I make a note of everything possible, thanks to the waning memory management skills of my brain. In my case, I generally plan the week roughly to ensure I am not chewing more than I can digest. There will, of course, be surprises along the way, but a high-level idea of the week ahead will make you feel more in control of things.
Often when we talk about time management, we only think of time allocation. Mental shift is also closely interlinked to time management. For example, if I have to write a profound piece just after dancing away to glory on Param Sundari, it will take me a bit of time to make the switch. Incorporate this aspect when you plan your day, and unwind, if necessary, from one kind of task before moving to something which requires a totally different frame of mind.
I often find people worrying about the numerous tasks ahead which makes the time management more overwhelming than it is. There is no point in thinking – ‘OMG I have so much to do today’ all the time. Just get going! When I am conducting a workshop, however hectic my day ahead might be, I do not bother thinking about later. Later will be tackled later, right? Being ready or bracing oneself for the tasks and activities is one thing, but it does not help to constantly load your brain with the thought that you are swamped with work.
Outsource what you can, so that you can create space for what could be more productive. For example, when I realised that I was spending a lot of time handling enquiries for my classes, I assigned this task to one of my team members who only directed these enquiries to me when someone was interested after an initial discussion. Relook, revise, and reinvent.
I am fortunate to have a strong support system in place in the form of my husband, parents, domestic workers, and community friends. This makes my plans a reality most of the times. I know I can rely on them to help me out during exigencies or unforeseen circumstances.
I understand this may not be possible for everyone, but even if you can form a small support circle, it can give you a breather or room to replan when required.
It is necessary to understand that focus does not mean working towards only one goal. To me, focus is about simply being there in the moment with all your heart and soul. So, there is nothing like working on too many things at once in principle. If I have a dance workshop planned in a particular week, I take up lesser writing projects/deliverables during that time. Appropriate and meticulous planning while keeping one’s aspirations in mind is pivotal to a fulfilling career.
This involves learning to say ‘no’ as well because we often end up spending a huge chunk of our precious time on activities that we were never willing to get involved with in the first place. I have struggled with this too, and while I have not yet mastered this subtle art, I am attempting to get there.
Last but the most important thing to remember – it can all go for a toss! Life loves throwing lemons and making a lemonade out of it is not always practically possible. Once it so happened that on a day when I had a book release planned, my website crashed due to some technical issue at the server end. For a moment, I was blank because I had a lot on my plate suddenly. But accepting that we cannot really predict the day and being willing to reprioritize according to the situation at hand is also an important component of time management.
To recapitulate, ask yourself the relevant why’s, what’s and how’s, make informed decisions, and be aware of your inner and outer milieu. Build your support system – this could be your spouse, family members, friends, domestic help, or simply an activity which brings out the best in you. Surround yourself with people who do you good rather than drain your energy, and always own your choices. Time management is not just about allocation of time to something – it is about gradually learning to make every moment count in a way we want it to.
Image source: Getty Images Free for Canva Pro
Multiple award winning blogger, influencer, author, multi-faceted entrepreneur, creative writing mentor, choreographer, social activist and a wanderer at heart read more...
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