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Time Management

Time Management with Love and Logic

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Get some easy and fun heart-inspired time management tips from productivity coach Tara Rodden Robinson, Ph.D on how to do what you love every day.  Tara shares tips from her recent book  “Sexy + Soul-full: A Woman’s Guide to Productivity

Get at the Heart of Time Management

Source: Robinson, T. R. (2016). Sexy Soul-full: A Woman’s Guide to Productivity.

Discovering your passion and what makes you happy

Unlike traditional productivity programs, Tara’s approach to productivity is to first and foremost to make time for what you love, unapologetically, and joyfully. The first part of her book , Sexy + Soul-full: A Woman’s Guide to Productivity” helps women get in touch with what they love. Tara offers the following 3 steps:

  1. Cultivate an Awareness of You Soul-full Yearnings
  2. Follow Where Your Yearnings Lead you.
  3. Keep going

While this path towards moving toward your passions may bring doubt and fear, Tara recommends instead of running away from your fear to lean into them.

“ Facing fear has taught me to be gentle with myself.  Gentle as in: Learning to unclench, relax, and allow.  This is different from forcing, pushing, and making myself do things I’m afraid to do or not ready to try yet.  We’re called to strike a balance between gentle with being gentle with yourselves and still remaining loyal to our journey.” P58

There are times in exploring your passions may lead you to what feels like a dead end, Tara suggest that we embrace these “fallow times” and surrender to what is.

“Your journey can be as much about acknowledging and embracing inaction and ease as it is about throwing yourself into joyful effort and action.  The opposite of ease is struggle. Struggle is action but inefficient action- a futile exertion that gets you nowhere.  “ p60

“Being still, listening to your own soul’s voice, is never a waste of time. Practice courage in surrender.  Your loves are seeking you out just as strongly as you are seeking them. Sometimes it is you that must be found, rather than the other way round.”p61

Tara describes her own surrendering as letting go of worry, striving, and figuring solutions out.  She shares her own experience of letting go and that after she surrendered that all sorts of solutions and opportunities started to come to her.

Time Management: How to make time for the things we love

Examining our Myths about Time

Myth 1: I will have more time later.

We hold this belief that we will have time later to do the things that matter to us, like our loves, family and our own personal growth.  The outcome is that we delay our happiness to a later date.

Myth 2: Time is outside my control

Each of us has a perception of time that we are unconscious of, but that is anchored in our language. Have you ever said “I don’t have time”, “I am short on time”, and “I don’t have enough time”?  If so, you may be operating from a time scarcity model.

“Not only does your brain’s wiring play a central role in your experience of time, your time truly is what you think it is and it behaves how you say it does.  However it is that you imagine your time to be-scarce or abundant, speeding or dragging, standing still or running out – you create your own experience about how you think about your time and what you s ay aloud about it.”: p75

For more about the power of your thoughts check out:

Myth 3: My time is precious

In  Sexy + Soul-full: A Woman’s Guide to Productivity”  Tara’s shares research from psychologist who study human behavior.  This research uncovers  a disturbing problem with the folks who value their own time too highly: They re often extremely impatient.

“Ultimately, the myth of time as precious is based in a comparison mindset.  Comparison looks for less than versus more than. In the case of time, we tend to make these comparisons along the lines of “My time is precious” with the unspoken “and yours is not”.  These kinds of comparisons can lead us to not only overvalue our own time or to devalue other people’s time, but to devalue the people themselves.” P79

“When thinking of time as a personal possession, we become eager to hoard, to defend and to grasp.  We can begin to overvalue our time so much that we undervalue the time of others.  Worse, by getting deeply attached to our own precision time, we can start to feel resentful of anything or anyone that intrudes or threatens to take some of our precious time away or that seems to interfere with our expectations of what an experience ought to be like for us.  Waiting in line, a slow care in the fast lane, or being stuck on hold, all grate on our nerves and invite irritation and impatience.  Interruptions and crises become our enemies instead of holding possibilities for unexpected opportunities”. p135

The antidote to this myth is being a place of equanimity where all moments are equally precious.  It’s about letting go of your preferences, priorities, or attachment to what you want to be happening and being present and opening up to “what is” happening in your life.  Tara suggests training yourself to let go in simple ways, such as going to an ice-cream store and just pointing to anything versus your preferences is one way to train yourself of letting go of your preferences..

Another way that Tara suggests for conquering unknown events that occur during you day is to cultivate gratitude.

“The power of gratitude is found when you welcome everything- not just what you’ve expected, what you wanted, or what you wished for, but everything- with the same warmth of appreciation.  The natural partner of gratitude is generosity.  A generous heart is one that naturally shares whatever it has.  A grateful heart, likewise, is quick, to offer thing no matter what the circumstances or how events are turning out.” P146.

What are the root causes of overdoing?

The root cause of all these myths relate to a fundamental belief of scarcity.  Tara shares her insights about scarcity:

“Scarcity draws us out of the scared present-moment and focuses attention on an imagined and potentially disastrous future.  Instead of encouraging trust and faith, scarcity counsels doubt and distrust. Distrust naturally leads to disconnection, which sets the stage for alienation, isolation, and conflict.” P81

Another reason we get fixated on productivity time, is due to what Tara calls our “hustle for worthiness.”

“Scarcity tells you that you are not enough now, and you must be more to have some chance of being enough in the future.  Being more usually gets translated into doing more.  Because you are not enough, you can never do enough to become enough.  This leads to an ongoing tap dance of over commitment, workaholism, and a super-size ambition that is never satiated… because you are never enough,” p 82

Time management tips: How to do enough?

Important and not urgent

There are always long-term projects that are important, but there is no urgency to complete these tasks.  Tara suggests conquering these long-term projects using what she calls “Brief daily sessions(BDS)” and offer the following tactics:

  • Set your time for 3-5 minutes and work on your important work until the alarm goes off.
  • If motivated keep going, if not wrap up.
  • When you wrap up make notes on “The last thing I did was… The next thing I’ll do is..”

In order to effectively do your BDS, you may need to get in the right mindset.  If you feel unsettled at the start of your project, Tara suggests taking a short walk, writing a list of things that are still bothering you, or meditating.

Shrinking work to fit

One of the main reasons we find ourselves pressed for time is that we become perfectionist with our work and overdo.  Tara suggests placing time limits on the work you do by following these tips:

  • Decide how time to allot to the task at hand.
  • Identify what “good enough” is and what you need to do to get there.
  • Tackle your work with gusto.
  • Try to work in short intense, focused bouts.

Change your attitude about Time

As Tara shares above, we have disempowering language about time.  She offers the following tips on how to shift our language and by extension our perceptions of time:

  • Make time expand by being present to ever moment. She suggests a simple exercise of just noticing your breath or taking a quick break by noticing your surroundings.
  • Change your language about time. Look at the habitual phrases you say that reflect a sense of time scarcity and change your language.
    1. “I ‘m running out of time” might become “I know how to work in the time I have available”.
    2. “I don’t have time to finish this” might turn into “I can shrink this work to fit the time available”
    3. “Time is going by too quickly” becomes “ I know how to slow time’s pace by attending to details” p119
  • Block off times in your calendar to make time to do things you love (paint, nature walk, yoga, gardening).
  • Enhance your freedom by honoring stillness. Practice doing a fast from social media or other distractions and allow stillness to emerge.

“Busyness is a way of avoiding stillness, which is the ultimate expression of ease.  Being immersed in busyness or being addicted to digital devices not only derails stillness but these distractions also have a very weird way of making time pass unusually quickly.’ P125

Tara Rodden Robinson, Ph.D- Time Management Coach, author, and artist

Tara Rodden RobinsonTara Rodden Robinson, Ph.D., is a coach, author, and artist. She founded her coaching practice in 2006 when she left a career in academia. Before becoming a coach, she enjoyed a lively adventure as a biologist beginning in the Costa Rican rainforest. While pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, she met and married her soul mate, W. Douglas Robinson. Tara has published numerous papers on tropical birds and is the author of Genetics for Dummies (Wiley), now in its second edition. Before becoming a biologist, Tara earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing and she practiced critical care and surgical nursing for five years.

Tara makes her home in Corvallis, Oregon, where she lives in a purple house surrounded by art. She finds joy in making mosaics, painting in mixed-media, binding books, practicing yoga, or hiking the forest trails with her husband and their dog, Rowdy.