I used to think I had a 'time management' problem.
I had an INTEGRITY problem.
Before I tell you more about my problem, let's talk about integrity for a minute.
It's a fairly loaded word and appears to be widely misunderstood.
Integrity isn't right vs wrong.
It's not moral superiority. You aren't necessarily 'more in integrity' just because you eat organic, choose not to fly on aeroplanes, live or vote a particularly way.
You're in integrity with yourself when you do what you told yourself you'd do.
You're in integrity with others when you do what you told them, you'd do.
You're in integrity with a situation when you show up for it as the person you have decided to be in the world. Put another way - when you're living out your values.
When I was in the throes of 'so busy, 'crazy busy' and 'no time', what was actually happening was I was constantly going behind my own back - saying I’d do one thing, doing another.
I'd say things like this:
'I'm going to be really productive this morning. I'm going to work for three hours straight with the door closed and get a sound first draft of that report knocked out'.
Except, I wouldn't actually do that.
I'd start working on the draft and then 'remember' I didn't have a coffee, so I would go get one. Then, I'd:
✔️Answer the phone, when it rang
✔️Sit with my emails open, dipping in and out, responding whenever something came in, chalking up 'easy wins'
✔️I'd have 'a minute' (or 25) for anyone who knocked on my door
✔️I'd drink another coffee with the team because someone asked me
✔️I'd remember I had to make a doctor's appointment for one of the children's vaccinations and decide it would be most effective to do that now - 'while it's in my head'
✔️I'd go for lunch with someone just because they asked me telling myself 'Relationship building is important too and so is eating', my brain would sagely recommend.
At lunch, if I'd told my colleague what had happened that morning - that is, that I planned to spend a morning working ahead on something that would really allow me time to think, to create something valuable, that would really set me up well for the deadline that was a few weeks away, that would allow me to get feedback from other team members in a really timely, maximum value enhancing way, my colleague would say something like:
“Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It’s “normal” to get sidetracked when you’re SO busy. Sure it's CRAZY in here these days. This is how it goes.'
That’s what anyone I know told me when I talked to them about the problem (the one that I thought - and everyone agreed was a time management problem):
The script we all spoke from went ~ It’s “normal” for “things to take over”.
The first coach I ever worked with didn't engage in speaking from this script with me and it is no exaggeration to say that this changed my life.
She showed me what my what my willingness to allow interruptions was creating for me - that is: a complete lack of control over my time.
She taught me that I could consider whether or not I wanted to be “normal” if that was what 'being normal' created for me.
I immediately saw how overrated “normal” is.
I saw how my beliefs around 'what's normal' contributed to my constant feeling of not really being at work when I was at work; and not really being at home when I was at home.
Those beliefs had me running in a hamster wheel to feel like I was getting somewhere; being permanently, incredibly 'busy' but completely unproductive.
I saw what an excuse the script we all speak from gives us not to show up and how our combined allegiance to the script makes it feel more 'true', and realised I didn't want to speak from that script any more.
I let out a breath that it felt like I’d been holding in for years.
I gave myself permission to stop being normal.
I stopped taking the piss out of my time and statements of intention; and started showing up.
Not as a perfect human but as a good enough one who planned her days with as much intention and purpose as she could.
I got clearer and clearer on purpose and more and more intentional.
I became fierce about doing what I said I would do.
*Just* working - really working - when I was at work.
I left a book club that I'd been asked to join, that I loved the idea of but that I knew I wasn’t going to make time for.
When I met someone I really liked and hadn't seen in ages, I stopped saying “we have to get coffee sometime” when I knew we wouldn’t and instead, chose genuine complete connection for the 5 minutes we did have , saying “I loved seeing you. I’m so happy you’re well” and completely meaning it; instead of promising something that I knew I wouldn't do.
In small, steady ways, I made progress on being a trying to be a person who lives in integrity.
A person who tries to live each day in integrity makes a time plan and keeps to it.
It turns out I don't have a time management problem at all.
If you go behind your own back on the regular and want to stop, then I can help you. You can schedule a FREE 45 minute consultation with me, by clicking HERE.