How I Overcame My Resistance to Time Management

I think the law of advice-giving means that eventually I have to confront places where I need work myself and not just give all the time. One thing that came up for me was “time management” in my yearly review at my new employer. And while I was initially dismissive of the idea that I should work on it, I eventually realized that this was a real area that was asking me to put forth my energy into.

I was initially resistant to it due to my old conditioning that discouraged time management. In school, I had always studied every possible moment. My parents never really taught me about taking breaks to recharge my brain, so I didn’t know how to rest. And if I was working all the time, then there was no incentive to manage my time so that I could build in times for hanging out with friends or for getting a proper amount of sleep. When that got to the law firm environment, that style of working quickly meant that I would procrastinate on doing assignments within normal business hours because I figured that my entire Saturday or Sunday would be lost anyways to working. In addition, my old firm was not very respectful of boundaries, so it was hard to work on time management when I essentially felt powerless to control my schedule.

Now at the new firm, there are still short-term projects, but there are plenty of long-term ones. Oddly with the new freedom I find it hard sometimes to know how to allocate my time. This works when I only have one project going on, but if I’m not already accomplishing steps towards that project, life has been more stressful when other assignments come in. In fact, come to think of it, each new assignment is not stressful in of itself, but the thought of it piling onto something else is what makes it stressful. That anxiety then prevents me from being focused on the tasks that I need to do, and I end up paralyzed as to what to do next.

There was also the problem of the ego and not wanting to admit that there was something that had to change. I don’t see the lack of time management as a “problem,” for me, new experiences in working on myself are acceptable as a part of normal human change. The world is always shifting around me, and it’s good to learn how to adapt. Having to adapt to something is not a sign of weakness or giving up on certain values, and I can trust myself that I will make the best decisions given the information and situation I have at that time.

There was also the death of the old self. The past few months, I’ve been on a more free-spirited side of me, discussing what I wanted to do and actually doing it. It has given me the space I’ve needed to grow and to try out new things. Part of me didn’t want to work on time-management because it would be the death of this “self,” which I was getting to know and starting to like. By working on time management, I am letting go of that storyline and finding a new part of me that’s connected with her heart and more willing to work towards greater integrity.

Another way to put it is now that I know what I want, there is a need to move and adapt in a way so that I have time to do everything that I want.

A lot of the resistance had to do with fear, and I love it.

Would I regress back into working all the time? What about burn out? Am I going back to only doing things for other people?

But those questions assume that I have not changed, or that it is possible to go back to the “old self.” I know that this won’t happen because this time around I am more aligned with my heart and that will serve as my guide, not accolades or the need to achieve a certain goal.

Finally, I found benefits to time management that I could get behind. After speaking to a professional development consultant at my job, we identified that anxiety was driving a lot of my habits to procrastinate on projects, or to not do as well in critical thinking. It was helpful to hear someone explain that knowing the next steps of what to do and having achievable steps towards a goal was something that could lower my anxiety. My tendency was to spend too long on the first couple of steps for a project, and forget about the other steps or not even realize they were coming. By thinking about each step and how long I needed to work on it, and working backwards from a goal, I would be able to feel more confident about how I was spending my time. In addition, I believe that it will leave me more time to do projects and able to set boundaries better (because I will be able to figure out if I could take something else on).

I believe that time management will give me more flexibility, not less. And it’s helpful that the consultant reminded me that a goal was simply an “idea” and that it could change. My tendency has always been to focus on a goal as a must-do, which also leads to anxiety as well. This way of thinking of goals as an idea helps me put things in perspective and gives me the wiggle room to change course if I want to.

If you are reading this, I hope you will take the time today to think about time management in this sense.

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