Is It Really a Time Management Issue?

Her Corner

Frederique Irwin

March 21, 2018

Recently someone told me she needed help with time management.
There simply was not enough time to complete all the work she needed to do to run her business. She was putting in 10-hour days and still falling behind. By the time we got together, she was four days behind with client deliverables, and she thought the only way she’d catch up was by working the entire upcoming weekend. I could see the overwhelm she was carrying with her. I could hear how close she was getting to just giving up.

We started talking through solutions. What could we outsource? Who could we hire? Was there a short-term partner option?

But she wasn’t responding. She was not even able to make time for any of these possible solutions.

Something was off.

SO I TOOK A STEP BACK. AND I ASKED HER TO SHARE SOMETHING WITH ME.

I asked her to pull up her calendar and show it to me.

As I looked at her calendar, I immediately saw the problem.
This was not a time management issue. This was a capacity issue.
She was right. There was literally no extra time to research outsourcing, or to reach out to a possible partner, or to arrange to offload work, or to hire someone to help. She had expertly time blocked her calendar for the clients she had. There was no time.

But as I took a closer look, I noticed something else.

• An entire day blocked off to deliver a business development presentation.
• And a few days later, four hours set aside to deliver a webinar for a partner organization.

Why was she making time for these things? I asked. Even if they converted to new business, she didn’t have the ability to take on any more work.

She told me that she was afraid if she stopped doing business development, the work would stop coming in. Plus, she didn’t want to disappoint someone to whom she’d made a commitment.

The picture became clear. This wasn’t a time management issue. This was a priorities issue. Her desire to please others, and her inability to prioritize herself, had led her to fill up her calendar so much that there was no way to actually get everything done.

I waited on mute as she called the organizations and politely told them she had to cancel. And suddenly we had something we could work with. Room to breath and room to catch up.

If you have ever felt this way – like there’s no time even to look for help – take a look at your calendar. If non-priorities are taking up all of your time, start by getting rid of them.