“I’m So Busy!” Self-Management not Time Management


This may be confronting for some people, but saying “I’m so busy!” is actually another way of saying, “I’m not managing myself”.

Language creates our reality, so it’s important to avoid using words like ‘busy’.

Here’s another way of looking at time management, self-management and how to manage your commitments.

A top graduate decides to approach four top law firms and asks them to tender for his employment. He was 24 years old with a double degree with honours and could speak three languages. He was actively involved in social work and kept physically fit with exercise and sporting endeavours.

So he felt he could be inventive and ask the firms to tender for him rather than the other way around.

Two of the firms were intrigued enough to organise a job interview with this graduate and during one of the interviews he was asked, "How did you manage to achieve so much at such a young age? I’m also intrigued on how you manage to keep a well-balanced life with social work and fitness. How do you do it?"

He answered – “24 boxes!”

“I don’t look at time as 24 hours. I look at my 24 hour day as 24 Boxes”.

Time Management Activity

Picture having 24 Boxes given to you a day.

Each box is a 5L box. You can only fill this box with 5 litres of contents. You can’t push 6 litres of things into this box because then things will overflow and erupt, or you may know the feeling as 'the wheels fall off!'

The key is - if the box is full and you decide you really need to urgently put something else into this box then you must first create room for it by taking something else out of the box.

Try it!

Draw up 24 boxes and discover how you use your 24 boxes (choose a typical workday to begin with).

  1. Sleep - average hours of sleep a night? 6, 7 or 8 hours? Colour in, highlight, or cross out.
  2. Work - the true number of hours you do on a typical workday
  3. Commuting time - how many minutes do you commute for each day?
  4. Exercise time
  5. House Management time – this includes going to the supermarket, meal preparation, washing, house jobs, etc.
  6. Family/Relationship time – this includes bathing, dropping off and picking up, reading stories, school lunches, homework, sports drop offs.
  7. Down time – zoning out or unwinding time before bed.
  8. Board meetings / Committee meeting - or other commitments at night

Now ask yourself:

How many boxes are left over?

Or did you run out of boxes before you finished?

Are your boxes serving you well?

What connections are you making after completing this activity?

Do you forget to say “no” in order to say “yes” to things?

How could this make an impact in the way you manage yourself, and manage your time? Are you "too busy?"

By Intepeople Executive Coach, Anna Gibbons. Find out more about Intepeople's Executive Coaching services here.

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