Often, early habits shape our adult life. Sometimes we are forced to change our old habits to adapt to new life situations. For some people this can be a cause for distress, feeling a sense of loss as they move away from their old habits and feel new restrictions are imposed upon them. For others, however, it can create a sense of security from being allowed to shape their approach to change and be in control of the situation.
I am one of those people who has always been well organized and in control, but when I changed my career and started working from home, I was very surprised when the first weeks turned out to be a problem. I was astonished to discover how little I had achieved by the end of the day!
I soon realised that I must be doing something wrong.
All aspects of my life were down. I became extremely dissatisfied, disappointed with myself, and totally demotivated to continue working. My ideal plan of working from home, caring for my children, and managing the house had failed. Since I could not go back to my previous full-time job, I decided I had to give it another go, only this time to plan and be prepared. After reading a lot of time management books and listening to project management specialists, I already knew where my problems lay.
At the time when I was working full-time, I managed to achieve a lot of things because I already had an established routine and I was perfectly organized. Due to the busy rhythm of the day, I had many things planned and stuck to a pre-set time frame.
When I started working at home, I thought it would be similar, or even better. I believed I would have more time for work and homelife without time being wasted getting ready for and commuting to work. Ironically, this was not the case.
Without the need of the morning commute, I allowed myself to get up later to catch up on lost sleep from previous early morning starts. Then, to save extra time, I stopped paying attention to what I would wear, after all, nobody would see me anyway. Later, I stopped wearing makeup, to detox my skin (read: I did not feel I needed to make the effort anymore).
To enjoy my mornings at home, I started my day with a long coffee whilst I caught up on social media and the news on morning television, after all I had the whole day to work – or so I thought!
The dream of what life would be like became a nightmare in reality. In a short period of time my life changed, and from where previously I was so organized and on top of my work, things started to go wrong and I was falling massively behind, something I never wanted. I felt crippled by remorse, but the large backlog of work became a barrier to me acting and getting on top of things. This was the moment I said enough is enough and imposed a new routine on myself. It was not easy because the present lifestyle was pleasant, but I knew it would be even harder for me to adjust in the long run if I did not make a change immediately. I decided to make a plan of action drawing from the books I had read, testing the recommended times and implementing the project management programs. It was neither easy nor pleasant, as I had to go through many different time management techniques before finding the ones that suited me best. I can gladly say the pain was worth it, as they have certainly brought a lot to my life.
The key for me was writing down my tasks, which demonstrated to me why previously I was able to accomplish so much during the day
and the week. After finally working through my backlog of work, a great deal of pressure and guilt was lifted off me and delivered satisfaction back to my work. I was no longer afraid t
o open my mailbox and I was happy to tick off my duties every day. I had learned how big the mistake was in my lack of preparation every day. With my new resolve, I returned to more formal clothes leaving behind my comfortable leggings and loose t-shirts, and I once again took pleasure in putting on makeup in the mornings. It turned out that when I looked better, I felt more confident and had a greater sense of control over the situation 😉
It seems so simple and obvious, but I had to remind myself of the little habits that kept me in my routine and motivated to work. I now adore my planner where I write down my plans for the whole day and the week ahead, noting all the important dates, shopping lists, and meal plans for a few days ahead ... what an incredible saving of time and money that turned out to be. From this life lesson, I am now happy to regularly test new techniques that may continue to help and improve my time management.
Even those who are particularly skilled at time management, must continue to check-in and keep themselves on track to maintain and improve effective habits. It is quite easy to become complacent and relax good habits, after all we are all human and have our own weaknesses. But be aware of this and find your own way and tools to suit your lifestyle. Everyone is unique and will need to test many techniques until they find one that works for them. I want to encourage you not to be afraid to try to organize your everyday life, even if it may impose some limitations on you in the beginning. After working out the right method, you will quickly notice the benefits and it will motivate you to continue working.
I also want to emphasize that based on observing business owners and reading many inspiring stories of people who have achieved success, all of them knew what they wanted to achieve and the only way to deal with the accumulating duties was to organize their time well. Moreover, as a reminder, I will add that the written word has much more motivational power than the spoken word. So, write it down and act!
Women's Business Link's Co-Founder