Reflection has been an important theme for the start of my 2017. I am not alone, for many, 2016 was a tough year. There was much talk about putting this crappy year behind us. For my family, 2016 was definitely a struggle. We lost my mother in law after a lengthy illness, and sadly also dealt with three deaths by suicide and the aftermath of sadness it brought to our community and family. We are not alone. According to Statistics Canada, between 1997 and 1999, there was a 10 percent increase in suicides across Canada, from 3,681 to 4,074.
Canadians are stressed about work as well, and caregiving can have a negative impact on their mental health, notes a report from the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Only one-third of Canadians, age 12 and older, with common mental health conditions, report very positive mental health.
These trends formed a new purpose in my life – educating on how we can live a more purposeful and mindful lifestyle in order to feel happier and healthier. For me, this included not shying away from talking about my stress, depression and anxiety and what we can do as a community to combat the feelings of overwhelm that plague so many of us.
So after making big changes in 2016 to attain more time for play (see below) I am happy to report success in better managing my time and energy to thrive in work, life and play. I recently had the opportunity to share my advice in a new monthly column I am writing for Microsoft called Modern Biz. After years of trial and error, here are my top tips to manage your time and energy in 2017:
Do you struggle with self-doubt and worry? Entrepreneurs waste a lot of time worrying and questioning if we will succeed. I call them the classic “what if’s.” However, “what if” you questioned whether something could go wonderfully right?
Starting up and carefully managing Women in Biz Network has been a labour of love for me for an incredible 7 years of my life. Throughout this time, I have experienced many highs and lows and learned lots of lessons along the way. One of the biggest benefits of starting my business is making a difference in the lives of others. I have hosted over 200 events and developed new skills that have changed my life along the way.
My biggest challenge?
Managing my time and energy as an entrepreneur has by far been my toughest challenge. I wasn’t prepared for the distractions that kept me from business development tasks. I have the insight now to realize I focused too often on managing tasks that felt good to complete but didn’t contribute to increasing my profitability.
According to a Microsoft Study, email kills a lot of our time—23% of all distractions, according to this study. But get this: in the same research, the same people reported that they interrupted themselves 44% of the time. They simply moved on to other tasks, whether the first one was finished or not.
Don’t be your own worst enemy when it comes to managing time and energy. In 2016, I decided I needed improvement. By creating one big goal I managed everything else better, simply out of necessity.
My one big goal
I decided to train for a half marathon. During my startup phase of business, I had decided to focus on networking, business building, and family responsibilities. That left pretty much no time for exercise. After soul searching, I decided in 2016 that this trend had to stop. The result? I ran the Scotiabank Half Marathon in October 2016 with a “personal best time ” of just over 2 hours to complete. Along the way, I learned how to manage my time and energy better. Here’s what I learned…
Manage Your Time and Energy with These 8 Tips
1. Learn to say no
I became super critical of analyzing tasks that came before me. Would this task lead to greater productivity or profitability? If I answered no, then often that led to me to decline. I also learned not to answer emails immediately—generally giving myself 24 hours to make decisions resulted in less impulsive decisions. The result? Saying no allowed me more time to say yes to things that really mattered to me. I felt less stressed and happier by avoiding decisions made from a sense of obligation.
2. Shorten your to-do’s
Start “To do” lists with NO MORE than 3 items daily (made the night before). I would circle ONE critical task on this list and ensure I did it first. I started keeping track of time wasters and things I didn’t need or want to do anymore.
Practice at least 10 minutes of daily meditation to quiet your mind, each and every day. Gandhi once said: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” This ritual creates distance from your self-doubt and worry. It allows you to feel great peace of mind and enhanced clarity.