It is currently 5AM and I have been wide awake for the past three hours. For my sake, I hope this will be a short post (succinct and eloquent) and that my body will soon decide to provide me with the luxury of sleep. So let’s see how we go and until I succumb to slumber I am super excited to explore the concept of time with you. I appreciate that this topic can quickly escalate into something far too profound and philosophical, especially as the mind runs wild at 5AM, so let’s keep this real and relevant!

As many of you are aware I have been really sick for close to four months now. A lot of days are painful and overwhelming and it can be hard to keep the brave face on. But through this hard journey I have been learning a lot and growing – and I am genuinely grateful for being able to see this!  One of the most important things I have been learning is how to manage my time and energy to stabalise, and hopefully improve, my daily health. So what have I been learning about time and how might it help you be more productive?

Time is finite, so we need to manage it! This is why I think calendars are better than to-do-lists!

I am not sure how subjective this is, but I find calendars better than to-do-lists. The fundamental flaw of to-do-lists (or at least mine) are that they don’t account for time (how long will the task take?) or scheduling (when will I have the necessary time to actually do this?). Currently, because of my medications and physical condition, I live a three day week and in a good week I am often up to one or two short outings. So planning a week or two ahead has become a necessity because of my limited ‘good-hours in a week’. I also have semi-predictable good-hours in a day, and I am having to become a master of scheduling to utilise them. I can’t bank on having a full day of energy and being able to do what I want when I want. So I have to prioritise heavily and allocate my time because it might be a few days until I am up to doing it.

Putting ‘tasks’ into my calendar firstly ensures I am not trying to do too many things (I can see this visually on a calendar) and this helps avoid crashes (scary quick onset exhaustion).

Secondly, it locks that time away. So instead of creating a big long list of things to do, I now have allocated time and reminders for each task. I am cognitively managing one task at a time, rather than a list of tasks that I am unsure whether I can complete (because I haven’t thought about how long each might take and factored this into my day) and a let’s face it, a long list of even small things to do appears overwhelming!

Thirdly, putting tasks in my calendar also protects my time. If someone asks me to do something I can check straight away whether I can actually manage it. Protecting your time is critical because if you don’t you’ll over commit and burn out.

Time and energy is precious, so we need to be proactive about looking after it.

The more detail you put into your calendar the greater your ability to visualise your time and how you spend and allocate it. As you manage your time better you’ll reduce your stress and cognitive load. So don’t be afraid of calendars and scheduling – they’re actually liberating not constraining!