Time management reality shock
I was 13 years old when I had my first time management reality shock.
My father and I sat down together and wrote on a piece of paper all the activities I had on a weekly basis. School in the morning, swimming classes in the afternoon twice a week, tap dancing in the evening once a week, art history in the afternoon once a week, yoga (right after swimming practice) once a week. We still had to add slots for homework and studying for tests, and I’m not even counting the time we spent in traffic jams (not to be neglected when you live in São Paulo) or the considerable amount of hours I used for reading and writing for pleasure.
At the time, I wanted to fit in yet another activity and I felt frustrated that it was not possible. I felt I was not doing enough. I wanted to pursue ALL of my interests. At the top quality level.
My father simply showed me that there was not enough time and that I was being too harsh on myself. Up to that moment, it had not occurred to me that I was doing too much. For me, life was this race and I had to excel at everything before came adulthood, lest I would never be able to do the grand things I dreamed of. There was no such thing as doing too much, there could only be doing too little.
My parents tried to tell me that I should focus on what really mattered, but I would not hear of it. Everything mattered. I could not let go of anything.
Eventually, I dropped some of the classes, but I will tell you, I was not happy about it. For many years, every time I uncommitted and limited my activities (usually on the wake of near-breakdowns), the underlying feeling was frustration. Like I should be perfect, thus able to handle it all. Like it was unfair I could not do EVERYTHING.
Then motherhood forced me to rearrange my priority, for the sake of survival (absolute one = sleep). In a long process that would be stuff for another post, I started to embrace my imperfection (what pleasure can you get in life if you’re almighty?).
I also started to experiment with time management techniques, departing from the basic: measuring how long it took me to do daily tasks. I had the chance to meet people along the way who inspired me and introduced me to time management hacks and authors (in particular, Hanna Girling and Laurence Zaied, who not surprisingly are also mothers and entrepreneurs).
Now, 24 years after my first time-budgeting exercise, I am finally at peace with the fact that I cannot do everything. This is not to say that it is easy to say no to interesting projects or to uncommit from the ones that are not aligned with my main goal. As you know, it takes practice to become good at something that does not stem from your “natural” talent. But it pays off. I've stressed a lot less about my to-dos lately. I've accomplished more in less time. [the fact that you are more and more to follow Bonjour Geneva is a direct result. Cheers to that!]
What about you? Are you happy with your approach to time management? What authors have you read? Which is your favorite one?