Someone help me out with this… is it ironic that my post on time management today was accidentally published before it was ready? Thanks for hanging in there with me. If you are new to HeartWork Organizing, I usually publish one or two encouraging articles a week to help you with your organizing and decorating efforts. During January, however, you get one article each day to keep you motivated to keep up with your good intentions. Today, let’s talk about how some common time management myths and magical thinking can sabotage our best plans.
Magical thinking is when we want something to happen but we don’t for natural consequences, and it destroys our ability to manage time well. Imagine that you have to pick up your friend from the airport at 4:30. You are really looking forward to it all day. You are super excited to see your friend again. But your brain gets the signal that something important is happening at 4:30, so you go about your day. Later that day, you head out, but you end up late for your appointment…again. What happened? Magical thinking can sabotage your plan to get there on time:
- You misjudged that one last phone call/ email/ meeting you had before you left for the day. I call that OneMoreThing-Itis.
- You think it takes 15 minutes to get to the airport, but it really takes 35 minutes. It just seems like it should take 15 minutes “or so”.
- You forgot to leave the extra 15 minutes you need to find your keys, grab a bottle of water, wrangle the dog into his crate, and send your kid to the neighbor’s to play. Oops!
- You didn’t account for rush hour/bad weather/the big game and all the extra traffic.
- You forgot to account for the fact that it takes nearly 15 minutes to get to your favorite parking stop and walk to the agreed upon spot to meet your friend.
- None of these things added up, and your plan to be somewhere at 4:30 translated into not taking any action until 4:30, or very near that time, and so you ended up late.
If this were a sitcom, there would be a quick scene cut, and you could drive across town in the blink of an eye, just like magic. Someone call me when the teleporter is finally invented because I NEED THAT! Sadly, getting somewhere on time isn’t the only place where we see magical thinking. You and I both run into plenty of these situations every day.
Magical thinking is when we want something to happen but don’t for natural consequences. It destroys our ability to manage time. #organize
Myth: Installing/updating software will just take a minute.
Reality: Sometimes a new software install or update will require other software to be updated, will require tech support assistance, or will require you to shut down your entire computer, all taking up additional time.
Myth: You need the latest and greatest tech.
Reality: Staying up to date in the tech world takes time and focus to learn how to use and optimize those new tools.
Myth: Life works in blocks of an hour at a time, just like TV shows, work meetings, and doctors appointments.
Reality: Nope. Sometimes appointments are unexpectedly short, but often not.
Myth: We have until the deadline to get taxes done.
Reality: Often we are beholden to a scarce resource, like the appointment time from your CPA, or we are missing critical data like forms and figures. Deadlines are for completion, not for starting.
Myth: Meals don’t take much time to prepare.
Reality: Yes, there is fast food in modern times. But most meals are still prepared at home. The Washington Post reported that the average American currently spends about 110 minutes each day preparing meals, which is down considerably from the past. That’s almost two hours a day! Are you planning two hours a day to prepare your food? Are you leaving any time at all to eat your food? Even if you prefer to eat out, there is still time spent selecting, calling ahead, traveling to, and waiting for your meal to be prepared and delivered to you. Even though our modern food chain is a modern wonder, food still takes time.
These examples are day-to-day kinds of magical thinking that occur in every household, and they can cause patterns like we saw above, where someone is habitually late and can’t seem to figure out why. But these same kinds of thoughts can sabotage longer-term goals as well. Without taking the time at the beginning of the year to book a favorite vacation spot, all the best rentals are sold out. Or even worse, if you’ve always wanted to see Europe or the Grand Canyon, it’s going to take some kind of effort to get that ball rolling. Those kinds of trips don’t just happen. The same is true for starting a business, which no amount of pixie dust will make happen for you. Finding a new job, while it may seem like a daunting task, come from a series of small steps taken over time. You’ll need to take steps, one by one, to make longer term projects happen. That statement itself can be overwhelming when your life is an a state of chaos or transition, but there are still logical steps you can take to plan your life even when you feel like you can’t plan your life.
Watch how the rest of your day unfolds and see if there might be some magical thinking hiding. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to be someplace in 30 minutes, it’s a 10 minute drive, and it’s going to take 15 minutes to haul me and my bum leg out to the car.
Pin for later, and visit the rest of the January Getting Organized series here.