How many of you have tried varying different time management techniques? Over the years I have tried diary blocking, time blocking and I've tried varying different colour coding ways of blocking out my diary. In 2020 I trained with Paul Holbrook (check out his book) to become a diary detox practitioner, which I found very helpful. Certainly in terms of looking at where I spend my time, making sure that I'm not wasting it and giving as much value as I possibly can to myself and to my clients. I have also tried Pomodoro techniques and varying different egg timer techniques. I've tried everything!
I think a lot of my family and friends are always amazed at how much I can actually get done in a day. One of my friends is amazed at just how many Netflix series I can get through and still manage to get so much done throughout my day. But I've recognised that for me, it's not so much about managing my time, it's actually about managing my energy.
We all have 24 hours in a day- depending on how many other priorities we've got. So I realise that 21 day old twins take up different amounts of energy and time than 21 year old twins. I know that when my parents have been ill, it has felt that I don't have enough time to do anything else. So it's not so much the time, but I do think it’s around our energy instead. We've all got different priorities, different caring responsibilities, family responsibilities. We do different jobs, there are different demands on our time, and yet we find ourselves on this constant loop of not having enough time. Not being able to get done the things that we really want to do.
I often hear ‘time’ as an excuse. An excuse as to why women don’t have enough time for coaching. There isn’t enough time to go to the gym, do some exercise or do yoga. Why?
Why don't they have enough time to focus on their wellbeing, self care, or on their career development? Why don't they have enough time to make the changes that they want in their lives or their careers? Time comes up so much and if we could give ourselves the gift of more time, some of us may feel more balanced, more successful and more in control. But some of us might feel less of those things, because it might feel that there was just more time for us to try and cram more things into it.
Have you ever read the book When by Daniel Pink? The premise of the book is that timing is everything. He talks about the fact that our lives are a never ending stream of ‘when’ decisions.
When to get serious in our relationships
When to make important decisions
When to focus on administrative tasks
When to spend time socialising
The book says that we will have different points in the day that are good for making decisions. Different points in the day that are good for administrative tasks and different points in the day that are good for rest.
I am hugely interested and passionate about yoga and the ayurvedic way of living. They talk about Sattvic and Ayurvedic living which tunes into our circadian rhythm, our natural body clocks based on dosha’s. Dosha’s are our energetic bodies and we should live in tune with our dosha and in accordance with ayurvedic methods, ways of living and eating. They say that there are different points of the day that it's good for us to wake up, there are different points of the day that it's good for us to go to sleep. There are also different points of the day that it's good for us to eat, exercise and basically everything that we do on a daily basis in our lives.
Daniel Pink has taken some of that thinking and put it into a business method, of how based on our energy levels, when is the right time for us to do certain things in our lives. I have as part of my own self reflections and as part of my own learning, realised that I have different energy throughout the winter, compared to the summer. I know I need more sleep in winter than I do in summer and that any cardio exercise is better for me to do first thing in the morning.
When I was in corporate back in 2010 - 2011, I was training for a charity cycle across Kenya.
I was doing 10 spin classes a week and the majority of them were Monday to Friday between 6 and 7 o'clock at night. Sometimes I was adding on circuit or weight training in the evening too. Moving those sessions to the morning helped my energy throughout the entire day and helped me to sleep better, although I didn’t realise that at the time. In 2015 a friend of mine introduced me to the work of Rebecca Campbell. She is the author of Light is the New Black and Rise Sister Rise and in her books, Rebecca talks about the cycles and rhythms of life. The rhythms of the day, of the seasons and how we as women can recognise our own cycles. If we tune into the cycles of nature for example and cycles of the moon, this can help with our creativity, with our rest, with our work and with our focus.
Back then I have to admit, I thought that’s a load of rubbish!
In her writing, Rebecca introduced me to a woman called Lisa Lister and I would describe Lisa as an acquired taste. Everything that she does revolves around women’s cycles. My monthly cycle when I had them was something that I just wanted to forget, to push through and not pay any attention to. I had an endometrial ablation in 2013 which stopped my cycle completely and never again thought anything of it. But as I started to explore some of Lisa's and Rebecca’s work and after being given a moonology diary by Yasmin Boland, I then started paying more attention to the cycles of the moon.
A very good friend of mine, Kim Coley holds events for new moons and full moons to help women reflect, grow and create. Having been to some of her events, they are extremely powerful. For some, this may feel a bit woo and a bit out there and for some, you may have been exploring this already or completely in tune with your cycle.
I genuinely believe what's important is if we stop trying to manage time, and instead focus on managing our energy, this is where we can be our most successful, our most balanced and our most productive.
This is how we can set boundaries more effectively.
This is how we can take steps to avoid burnout.
This is how we can come to understand ourselves more
If you've been following me for a long period of time, you’ll know that I focus on helping core led women do 3 things to prevent and recover from burnout:
● Get really clear on who you are at the core. Your core values, core beliefs and core strengths.
● Create boundaries that are aligned to who you are at the core, which allows you to say no to things that don’t align with you and yes to those things that light you up.
● Create daily, weekly, monthly habits, behavioural changes, rest periods, whereby you have non-negotiable time for yourself.
A lot of the women that I speak to, can’t even fathom giving themselves 10 minutes a day. I see a pattern of yes, but…
Yes, but I've got all of this stuff that I want to achieve.
Yes, but it's impossible.
Yes, but you don't understand my life.
Yes, but you don't understand my work.
Yes, but you don't understand the responsibilities that I have.
I may not have your exact life or exact commitments, but I have been at a point where I felt that being busy was a badge of honour and taking time for myself was selfish. This led me to burnout, not once, but twice.
I talk in some of my workshops about energy angels and energy vampires.
I'd invite you to grab a notebook or a piece of paper and a pen and split the page in half into 2 columns. The 1st column, Energy Angels and 2nd column, Energy Vampires.
Start listing the angels and vampires in your life and how you can better manage, control or eliminate those in your life. Another way to look at it is, energy radiators and energy drains.
The energies of angels and vampires can be anything in your life. It could be people, tasks, activities, food, TV programmes, exercise, relationships, drinks, conversations, music, films, colleagues, clothes, meetings, the weather. The list goes on.
Energy angels are those things in your life that light you up- they give you energy.
Energy vampires are anything that drain you of energy.
So I'll give you some examples:
I used to be really good friends with my ex husband's sister and yet every time I went for a drink with her, there was always something wrong in her life. She was unhappy with her weight, her job, her relationship status, her financial status. She was unhappy with every single part of her life and everytime we met up, the whole evening would be consumed with how awful and miserable her life was. It didn’t matter how many times I tried to talk it through with her or give her solutions, or say that I would do things with her to help her feel better. She wouldn’t take any action in order to make the changes and it got to the point where I had to say to her that I couldn’t keep having the same conversation and you have to make the changes or stop talking about it. That wasn't why our friendship ended, it was to do with something else, but the last thing I wanted to do every Friday night after having a busy and exhausting week, was going out and being drained by her.
In my corporate days there used to be some meetings that were a total drain on my energy. In my corporate life and since starting my own business, things like finances, budgets and spreadsheets are complete and utter drains for me, they are energy vampires. And whilst I know they're necessary, I don't enjoy doing them. So if I now need to do them, it's first thing on a Monday morning. I get up and I get them done, and I move on. I know that if I put it off until later in the week, that’s all I’ll be thinking about. So that's a couple of examples of vampires.
Energy Angels: For me spending time with my sons, working with my clients, doing yoga, cycling, going out for dinner with my other half, getting outside for a walk with the dog, listening to my favourite music, creating programmes, writing books, recording podcasts are all purposeful and add value to my life. So these are my angels that lift me up. In many ways I'm quite lucky in that I have been able to create a business around something that works for me. I'm doing stuff that I love and with people that I enjoy working with and it's up to me how I plan my days and my week.
I recognise that not all of you, particularly if you're in corporate spaces, will have that luxury, but I do want you to consider how you plan your energy. We need to know who we are, set boundaries and create time for ourselves. That might be saying no to some of the people within your organisation and if you are a leader within your organisation, this is your opportunity to role model what great leadership looks like. It’s about boundaries and managing your energy. So you can do it! You can take steps, you can make it happen! On average you need three angels for every one vampire. For example; if I've spent an hour on a spreadsheet, I need three hours of angels after that to lift me back up.
So if you are wondering why you're so exhausted by lunchtime on a Monday, have a think, are you spending all morning doing energy vampire type of tasks or meetings? If you spend all day on a Monday dealing with vampire tasks and meetings, you would need three days of things to then lift you back up. That's the impact that vampires can have on us.
If you can manage your energy alongside finding out who you are at the core, setting boundaries and creating time for yourself, I guarantee that you will be creating much more time throughout your week. Time to do more of the things that you love, more of the things that lift you up and more of the things that inspire you.
You will still have 24 hours in a day just like I do, but what you're able to do and what you’re able to create in those 24 hours, will make a world of difference to you and those around you. So if you're finding yourself short of time, stop trying to manage the time and instead manage your energy.