Spoiler alert: no, there isn’t.
Or another way to look at it is, the perfect time management system is one that works for you.
Someone I know recently asked a group of us for advice. She wanted a better system to help her keep track of appointments and tasks. She’s using a system now but wants something better.
I’ve heard other people mention this same topic over the years.
But what if their time management system wasn’t good or bad? What if what really matters is how they think about things?
Is it a thinking problem?
Is there a perfect time management system? I don’t think so.
You can find plenty of digital tools and methods to help you manage your tasks and appointments, including Google calendar, Trello, Outlook, your iPhone calendar, the Pomodoro technique, and time blocking. Even an old-fashioned analog paper calendar.
I use a mix of all these.
But even more important than the actual system you use is how you think.
Seeking balance vs. enjoying the ride
What if instead of seeking perfect time management and balance you thought of it as enjoying the ride?
One week you’re busy with kids’ sports; the next week you’re busy with a major project at work. The following week you’re spending time helping your aging parents.
Ask yourself if you say great time management and balance is what you seek but honestly you like the all the activity and staying busy. It’s OK to admit you feel most comfortable staying busy and active.
Are you truly seeking a way to keep track of all your activities, or is it about giving yourself permission to enjoy the ride?
The playground analogy
A great analogy is the teeter totter versus the merry go round.
Think back to playing on the playground when you were young.
The teeter totter allowed you to sit at one end while your friend or sibling sat at the other. One went up while the other simultaneously went down. If you were in balance, you were both just standing still. Being in balance wasn’t fun; it was boring.
The goal of the merry go round was to have fun on the ride, to stay upright and to enjoy the spin. If you were lucky, someone’s dad would push the merry go round hard and make it spin fast. I loved it!
I don’t want to be a perfect time manager and stay in balance. I like spinning fast and enjoying the ride.
What’s your real goal?
Getting back to our idea of great time management as the goal…
What makes you believe that you don’t have a good time management system right now?
If it’s that you’re busy and juggling lots of things, ask yourself if that’s your default setting. Have there been other times in your life when you were juggling lots of things?
Is it possible that that spot, that feeling of juggling, is where you feel most comfortable?
What does it say about you, and what you do believe to be true about yourself, if you’re juggling all the things?
What does it say about you if you stopped juggling all those things, or let some of them go?
For me, if I took away all my projects and volunteer roles and things to do and juggle, I would be really bored.
I like staying busy. It’s fun, and I like feeling productive.
Maybe staying busy means that you’re able to manage lots of things, that you’re capable and productive.
What’s the story you’re telling yourself about staying busy?
Ready to enjoy the ride?
Schedule your free 30-minute call with me to discuss your thinking about time management and more.