082: Which time management roadblock is your kryptonite?

Reading time: 3 minutes.
Do you ever wonder why some time management strategies work for you and others don’t? It might be because you are trying to solve the wrong problem. There are a number of different time management blocks, and often times, you can’t fully alleviate your problem if you don’t know what problem you need to solve. In today’s episode, I discuss a few of the different time management blocks, how you can reframe them positively, and a few tactics to help overcome them.
 
Are you struggling with any of these blocks? Emotional, environmental, intellectual and social. Tune in and find out!

1. Emotional roadblocks

These manifest as: 
  • anxiety, 
  • feeling like you’re not good enough, or smart enough. 
  • Perfection or another way to look at that –  procrastination, 
  • fear, 
  • lack of motivation, 
  • uncomfortable, not in the mood, lazy, 
  • never do it right (so why try)
If you notice these types of blocks coming up for you, you can do an:
→ Emotional reframe: 
  • these blocks center around mindset
  • the use of positive affirmations and journal writing
  • develop confidence about success – invest in mindset practices or a coach
  • understand it’s not a time management problem but more likely a lousy relationship with time. How long does it take?
Emotional tactic to work through your roadblock:
Create a how long does it take chart
  • task, estimated, actual
  • gives you a way to understand time and understand the time it actually takes to do something

2. Environmental roadblocks

You use your environment to help get things done and get distracted by these things:
  • finding the right “spot”, 
  • harsh lighting, unhealthy atmosphere,
  • lack of external communicators, 
  • lack of stimulation, 
  • disorganization – you can’t concentrate until the space is organized
If you notice these types of blocks coming up for you, you need an:
→ Environmental reframe: 
  • proper desk placement, 
  • task or flash lighting, 
  • visual stimuli, 
  • tactile accessories, 
  • photos, flowers, something that sparks joy, 
  • headphones/white noise, machine, 
  • organization, privacy shields, music
Environmental tactic to work through your roadblock:
Lighting is the number one killer of productivity. Low or poor, too harsh can affect productivity – natural daylight is best.
 

3. Intellectual roadblocks

You lack understanding between deep vs shallow work
  • how do you know HOW to do what you are supposed to do, 
  • what is your relationship to the work at hand, 
  • inability to sequence and plan, 
  • never learned how to work efficiently, 
  • inability to prioritize, 
  • unclear goals
→ Intellectual reframe: 
  • carve out planning time, 
  • sequence activities to include ‘transition’ time, 
  • setting boundaries around your work
Intellectual tactic to work through your roadblock:
 
Using Eisenhower’s Time Management Matrix popularized by Stephen Covey: square with 4 quadrants, organize into important/not important/urgent/not urgent
 
Four different quadrants that allow you to prioritize tasks in relation to their importance and urgency, helping you to decide whether you need to address a task immediately or if you can postpone it. 
 
Also, ask the right questions: 
  • what is your plan? 
  • what do you need to get started? 
  • what is the first step for …? 
  • what does the finished work look like? 
  • what could get in your way? 
  • what are your priorities today (matrix)?

4. Social roadblocks

You manage distractions, internally + externally, with social media or FOMO
 
→ Social reframe: batch + focus
 
Intellectual tactic to work through your roadblock:
  • pause inbox/message/phone notifications, computer/phone controls
  • use web browser apps that block or manage your browsing history e.g. Serene App
  • if you get distracted by facebook, use Kill News Feed so your feed never shows up and you can go into your groups or friends profiles without distraction
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Welcome.

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Coffee Powered Systems equipping women with actionable steps to overcome overwhelm and streamline business and life. So grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me. I’m your host, Miranda Merten.

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Hey, friend. Welcome back. Today I’ve got a cup of coffee. What are you drinking? If you’ve got some coffee, tea, water, wine, whatever you’re drinking, come join me today as we talk about time management. What I’m going to talk about today is time management roadblocks that I wish people would talk about because people think that time management is simply about managing how you spend your time. And it seems pretty simple, right? It’s even in the name time management. But there are so many different methods, so many different strategies, apps, tools, systems. If it were so easy, why are there so many things? And why are there so many different ways to go about it? Ideally, we could all just simply pick a method and it would work. I could do the get it done strategy, I could do the Pomodoro strategy, and every single thing would work for me. But that is typically not the case. And I’m sure you have had the same experience where you’ve chosen to do a certain strategy and it doesn’t work. And you wonder why not? Because you’ve probably tried like me, you’ve tried a bunch of different methods, you’ve tried a bunch of different tools.

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And what most people don’t realize is that we process our use of time differently. And one method that could work for someone else might not work for you. And that’s okay. But there is a reason why, and we need to understand those reasons in order to work properly and in order to manage our time correctly for the way that we work. So that’s what I want to talk about today, aside from things like time horizon and temporal discounting, which I will touch on in an upcoming episode, because they can also help you understand your relationship with time and why you view things differently. But aside from those things, we do have different types of time management roadblocks that can affect the way we work. And I want to go over some of those today we’re going to talk about the roadblock and how you can positively reframe it so that you can make it work better for you, and also some tactics that you can use with those roadblocks. Now, these aren’t the be all, end all, but they are a way for you to identify your roadblocks so that you can understand how to handle them when they come up for you.

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The ones I’m going to talk about today are going to be grouped into four different categories, which are emotional, environmental, intellectual, and social. I’ll go through each roadblock, give you the process to reframe them, and then one or two tactics to work through it. And the goal here is going to be to understand where most of your roadblocks fall and then you can reframe them and rework the way you manage your time. So the first roadblock we’re going to talk about is an emotional roadblock. This will manifest itself as anxiety or fear, maybe perfection or procrastination, feeling like you’re not good enough or smart enough. It might show up as a lack of motivation. Or maybe you’ve had this thought before that you’re being lazy for the day. That is going to be an emotional roadblock. If you notice these types of roadblocks coming up for you, then you can do an emotional type of reframe. And if you’ve noticed an emotional reframe centers around your mindset, so you’re going to use positive affirmations. Those are going to be huge. Maybe writing something down in your Journal, you’re going to develop confidence around the success of your actions.

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And if you tend to have emotional roadblocks, I want you to seek out mindset training or maybe even find a mindset coach to kind of work through some of those feelings that you get when you sit down to work and when you try to complete projects. When you have emotional roadblocks, it’s also not just a time management problem, but your relationship with time. Not knowing how long something is going to take ahead of time can hinder whether or not you want to work on it. So for example, you’re going to want to create a how long does it take chart. You’re going to put the tasks on there your estimated time and how long it actually takes. So you’re going to do this probably over a few days or a few weeks, depending on what exactly you want to measure. It’s going to give you a way to understand your time and understand how long it actually takes to do something, which is key when it comes to managing your time. Because if you work off of a to do list or a calendar and you have in your head a amount of time that it’s going to take to do something, typically we tend to Overstock our calendars and that is based on our time estimations.

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If your estimation is incorrect, your calendar is going to overflow into the next day and continue to overflow into the next day and the next day and the next day. And then that is when you get discouraged, you get anxious, you get a feeling of procrastination because you don’t want to do it. Or the thing you thought would take 20 minutes actually took an hour. So you’re going to use your how long does it take chart to kind of wrangle that in and understand how long do these things actually take? So in the morning, if you tend to check your email first thing when you turn on your computer, maybe you think that actually takes you like 15 minutes. So that’s going to be your time estimate of 15 minutes. Notice what time you start. You can set a timer or maybe just look at the clock. But if you’re just going to look at the clock, you really want to be conscious. Maybe write down the start time somewhere and then proceed to check your email or do whatever task you’re managing. After the task is complete, write down your end time or stop your timer.

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That is going to be your actual time. You want to measure what your estimated time was 15 minutes. You want to look at your actual time 45 minutes, and then you can see the time difference and you’ll be able to use these in the future to adjust your calendar slots. So if you’re working off of a calendar or a Todo list and you have that task on there for that day, you’ll know exactly what time block you need to have for that, and that’s going to make a huge difference in your mental feelings about your time and what you have to do for the day. The second roadblock Is Going To Be Environmental Roadblocks what this means is that you use your environment to help you get things done. That means you need to find the right spot or the lighting is too harsh or your atmosphere seems unhealthy, or you have a lack of stimulation or disorganization. So those are all environmental roadblocks. And if you notice that these types of roadblocks come up for you, then you are going to need an environmental reframe. First of all, you can have proper desk placement for me.

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My desk is in an office in the front room of my house, which points right out onto the street. I get super distracted sometimes. I live in a neighborhood where people are always walking and walking their dogs. Cars are going by, so I see that every single time somebody or something goes by, I can look up. I do have blinds on my windows, so when I go into focus modes, I know that I need to close my blinds. If this is something that comes up for you, maybe placing your desk with your back to the window so you still get all the natural light, but you don’t get the distractions that go by at all times. You also want to take note of the lighting. Natural lighting is always best, but if you’re in an area where natural lighting isn’t possible, you can look into getting a nice lamp or overhead light that gives you great lighting and then also have a task light, which is one of those that you put on your desk and you can turn on when you’re sitting at your desk. You can also add visual stimuli or tactile accessories in your office if those things help you things like photos or flowers, things that spark joy and make you excited to be in the room and happy to work.

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And then of course, also organization. You want to make sure your office is picked up because that is going to lead you to clean up instead of doing your work. This might resonate with you. If you are sitting at your desk and there’s papers everywhere or something is out of order, you will probably tend to clean that thing up before you get to work or clean that thing up instead of doing your work. That means that you tend to have environmental roadblocks. If those things don’t bother you, you probably don’t have environmental roadblocks. Something else is blocking you. Another good reframe for you. If you have environmental roadblocks put on headphones or soft music or white noise, those tend to be a really good option for your environment. I have a productivity playlist which if you have not gotten it yet, you can get it for free. I will drop the link in the show notes for you. It’s a playlist. Currently it has like 33 songs on it. It’s about 2 hours long and it’s just upbeat playlist so you can kind of get in the groove. Some songs are familiar, but I tend to use playlists without words, so I don’t find myself singing to the tunes.

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But something with a nice beat, something that you can kind of wash out in the background. It really is amazing how your brain just goes into a focus mode when you have the right music or the right background noise, so I definitely want to give that a try. The third roadblock is intellectual. You have an intellectual roadblock. If you lack understanding between deep work versus shallow work, this means you tend to wonder how do you know what you’re supposed to be working on or how you’re supposed to be working on it. What is your relationship to the work at hand? Meaning what are you supposed to be doing right now? And what is that particular work going to do with work down the road or in relationship to your company at the moment? Maybe you have an inability to sequence and plan, or you never learned how to work efficiently, or you have an inability to prioritize or unclear goals. So if those tend to resonate with you, that means you have an intellectual roadblock. So the intellectual reframe you’re going to use here is that one you’re going to carve out planning time. You want to make sure you know exactly when you are working.

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You’re going to sequence activities to include your transition time, meaning don’t just stack your tasks back to back. You want to include 510 15 minutes of transition. And this works twofold, because it’s going to give you a buffer time in case you go over. And it’s also going to give you some time that you can get up, stretch, go take a walk, get some fresh air, do something in the middle so that your work day doesn’t feel like one long workday. You’re going to also want to set boundaries around your work, especially if you tend to work from home a lot. You want to make sure your boundary. Your time. Boundaries especially are set. You work from nine to four, nine to five, nine to six, and then make those known, especially in your calendar and to the people that you live with. And when the end of the day is here, let it be the end of the day. Turn off your computer and get out the office. Go do something else. Those are boundaries around work and boundaries with the people you live with. If you say When I am in this room, that is work time, please do not disturb me.

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Once you get around those boundaries, that’s going to make a huge difference in your time management because you know that when you are in a certain space and during a certain time, that is when you should be doing your best work. So a couple of the tactics that you can use to work through this roadblock, one of them is going to be using Eisenhower’s Time matrix. This was popularized by Stephen Covey. It’s basically a square with four different quadrants and they’re organized into important, not important, urgent and not urgent. So those quadrants allow you to prioritize tasks in relation to their importance and urgency and that is going to help you to decide what you need to address immediately or what you need to postpone. Check. Email might be not important and not urgent, but if you have a client who needs a website design completed, that would probably fall into the urgent category. If there is a deadline and important because maybe it’s one of your biggest clients, you also want to ask the right questions. Now we talked about with your intellectual roadblock not being able to prioritize or sequence you want to ask these questions.

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What is your plan? What do you need to get started? What is the first step? What does the finished work look like? What could get in your way? And what are your priorities today? So once you’ve answered those questions and you understand where you are going for the day, that’s going to help you intellectually understand what you are working towards. The last roadblock that I want to discuss is a social roadblock. This means you manage your distractions internally and externally via social media or fear of missing out on things. This one is super easy to spot. It’s pretty simple to get a handle on as well. So the social reframe here is that you want to batch and focus your work. If you tend to find yourself scrolling on social media, you’re scrolling on Instagram and you get lost in it. You turn on TikTok and you know that once you get into TikTok, it’s at least 2 hours gone. You are definitely going to want to batch and focus. So batching means you are doing a specific task or a specific type of task at a specific time. So you’re going to do all of those all at once.

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Once you’ve done your batch, then you can go have a break, do some fun, do some social stuff, and take that time. You also want to make sure you focus when you are doing your batch times, you are focusing on that specific task. So that is going to really help with your social distractions and some intellectual tactics that you want to work through. This roadblock, you want to pause your notifications. That means your inbox messages, your phone notifications, maybe pause your desktop notifications as well. Because once those notifications come in, you want to go check it out and see exactly what just came through. You know those annoying notifications you got from Clubhouse or Instagram? Somebody just started alive and then you’re like, oh, awesome, I want to go check out their live. That’s where the FOMO comes into place because you know that alive is alive. You’re not going to see that again. It’s not going to live in stories for 24 hours. It’s not going to live on the feed forever. So you are definitely going to want to go check that out. If you are prone to dropping everything and checking things out and that gets you off task, you definitely want to turn off those notifications.

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You can also use web browser apps that block your browsing history. I actually did an episode on the Serene app, which is Episode 36. You can find that at Miranda Merten.com 36. I’ll drop that down below in the show Notes for you. And if you get distracted by Facebook, you can use an app like Kill Newsfeed. And that way whenever you go to Facebook, the feed or your timeline never actually shows up. And you can just go in and use Facebook for your groups or your friends and family profiles so you won’t get distracted every time you go into your Facebook. All right, so those are your four time management roadblocks. I would love to know if one of those four actually resonates with you. Most of the time you will identify with one of them, if not more than one. And once you know exactly what is getting in the way of your time management, you can better tackle it and learn what you need to shut down or how you need to work. That’s why time management strategies don’t exactly work for everyone. The Pomodoro strategy is not going to work for you if your only roadblock is intellectual.

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So you set a timer to work for 50 minutes, but you don’t know what you’re supposed to be working on. That’s not going to work for you. That is the reason why knowing your specific roadblock helps you better manage your time. And I want to leave you also with two of my favorite tips that I’ve heard about managing time, especially if you tend to struggle with procrastination or your relationship to time. So music Create a Music Playlist I discussed earlier about the productivity playlist that I have. Not only does it help you with your background noise and kind of tuning out things that are distracting. But it also works as a timekeeper. It helps keep your pace. So think about it. Once you hit your favorite song in the playlist, you know that maybe 30 minutes have gone by or you’re halfway through. Of course, if you’re using the shuffle function, that’s not going to work. But if you are listening to the playlist in the same order every time, you’re going to start to get to know the beats and the cadence of the time. Maybe once you hit a certain beat, you know that there’s five minutes left to finish your work.

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So you can use playlists as a timekeeper. You sit down and you say, Once this playlist is over because this playlist is an hour long, I need to be working on this for an hour. So that’s a great hack to using music for your time management. Secondly, you can use an analog clock. Analog clocks instead of digital help you see the time move. You can actually see time. And this one really resonates me because I always think I know how long a thing takes, 90% of the time. I am wrong. So what you want to use here is an analog clock. Because digital leaves time as being arbitrary and an analog clock, you can actually see what the time looks like. If you look at the clock and you can see what 15 minutes looks like or what 30 minutes looks like, it makes a huge difference. So let’s think about when you’re getting ready and you say, I have to get ready and it’s going to take me 30 minutes, and then I have to be out the door. If you’re looking at a digital clock in your head, you know what 30 minutes is.

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It’s 05:00. I know what 30 minutes is. If you have an analog clock in front of you, you’ve brushed your teeth and washed your face and you thought that alone was going to take you five minutes. But really, you look at the analog clock, ten minutes have gone by. You can actually see that chunk of ten minutes time that you have just spent. That will then create something within your mind so that you can kind of correlate what that time looks like. And that’s going to help you better understand your relationship to time, which in turn will help you better manage it. So I would recommend putting that analog clock in places like your bathroom, your office, your kitchen, any place that you tend to think that you know how long activities are going to take, and then you’ll be able to manage your time better. So let me know if you try any of these tactics or if you have now pinpointed what your time management roadblock is and reach out to me on Instagram. I’m at Miranda Merten. That is all I have for today. I will see you next time.

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Thanks for listening to Coffee Powered Systems. You can find links to everything mentioned in the episode down in the show notes or on the website at mirandamerten.com if you enjoyed this episode rate and review it in iTunes or where you enjoy listening so others can find it too and join me here next time.

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