Why time management without self-management is like an engine without fuel - Lifecoach München

Why time management without self-management is like an engine without fuel

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Slightly out of breath, Leon enters the room. 20 minutes late for our scheduled session on time management.
“It’s really hard to focus my thoughts sometimes,” he continues. “A doctor even diagnosed me with ADHD once. Maybe it explains why I get lost in my own thoughts so often.”
He seems shy as he apologizes and explains with a slight smile that he accidentally took the wrong path. Such confusions are not uncommon for him.

His eyes light up when he talks about his job at the publishing house. “I work as an assistant editor in the field of fantastic literature, which is really my absolute favorite topic.”

Then his enthusiasm wanes a bit. In fact, his boss sent him for coaching.


Text: Why time management without self-management is like an engine without fuel

1) Analysis Life Coach
2) Time management: goals and practical tools
3) Why time management and self-management complement each other
4) Time management: 10 methods
5) Psychology: Reasons for lack of time management
6) Time management and philosophy: the Stoa

1. Analysis Life Coach

Leon has clear goals. He wants to improve his time management, work on his self-management and concretize his future goals in the publishing house.
He admits that the first two goals were given to him by the publishing director when she recommended that he seek professional support in the field of time management.

As we talk about it, he realizes that time and self-management are actually interlocking goals that influence each other. Although he is a bit unsure about it at first, we still decide to treat them as separate targets, also to do justice to the ideas of his publishing director.


2. Time Management: Goals and Practical Tools


In order to improve Leon’s first goal, his time management, we work out a strategy together. It is important that he learns to prioritize and focus on the tasks that have the greatest impact on his work.

Goal 1: Develop time management

Eisenhower Matrix
Is a method of prioritizing tasks.
It helps to divide tasks into “important and urgent” and “important but not urgent” to better manage time.

Handy tool: Leon prioritizes his tasks every day exactly according to the Eisenhower principle.
He does the things that are urgent and important first.


Goal 2: Develop self-management

Time Blocks and Morning Routine
To strengthen Leon’s self-management, we are working on his ability to organize himself and stay productive.

Handy tool:
We develop a morning routine that helps him to start the day in a structured way and to switch to work mode with motivation.


Goal 3: Shaping the future of publishing with Ikigai

Ikigai is the Japanese concept that emphasizes the symbiosis of passion, vocation, profession and social needs in order to find meaning and joy in life.
Handy tool:
Leon writes his professional life goals in the context of his vocation and the further development in his publishing house by defining clear and measurable career goals.


Not only do the tools contribute to better time management, but they have also boosted Leon’s self-esteem and overall well-being
By using Ikigai, Leon is able to shape his professional future in the publishing house in a targeted manner and develop a clear vision for his goals. This gives him the opportunity to live out his passion for fantastic literature and pursue a fulfilling professional career at the same time.

3. Why time management and self-management complement each other

Time management focuses on using time efficiently and completing tasks quickly. Self-management, on the other hand, focuses on conscious organization, prioritization and self-leadership in order to optimize personal goals and quality of life.

While time management aims at effectiveness, self-management strives for focus, self-determination, and conscious prioritization.

Time management alone, without self-management, is like an engine without fuel, as it lacks conscious organization, prioritization, and personal direction. Self-management is the fundamental element that ensures that the efficient use of time also serves individual goals and quality of life.


4. Time management: 10 methods that complement each other

Listed here are management methods, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The goal is not to work through all the methods in a quasi-perfectionist manner, but rather to filter out your own methods and adapt them to the specific requirements.
The following methods complement each other, making it easier to find the most suitable method.

1. Pomodoro Technique: The Power of Intervals

In the Pomodoro Technique, you work in fixed intervals of often 25 minutes, followed by short breaks. This method helps you increase focus and productivity by breaking down work into manageable sections. This can be especially useful for tasks that require overcoming.

Benefits: Promotes focus and productivity, prevents burnout.
Cons: Interrupts the flow of work, possibly unsuitable for creative tasks, which can result in the state of flow.


2. Flowtime Method:

Use time in flow states. The Flowtime method is based on the concept of “flow”, in which you fully immerse yourself in a task and make optimal use of your personal strengths. You plan periods of time in which you consciously move into the flow state in order to be highly productive.

Benefits: Maximum productivity, better concentration.
Cons: Requires an environment without distractions, not always suitable for every task.

→ The difference in the effect on the flow state is that the Pomodoro technique may interrupt the flow to introduce pauses, while the flowtime method aims to use the flow state in a targeted manner.


3. Eisenhower Matrix: Clarity on Priorities

The Eisenhower Matrix divides tasks into four categories:
(a) important and urgent
b) important but not urgent
c) not important but urgent
d) not important and not urgent
This helps to set clear priorities and make you aware of which tasks really need your time.

Benefits: Clear priorities, better decision-making, more positive mindset.
Cons: Neglects long-term goals, requires regular updating.


4. Ikigai: Meaning and Passion in Harmony


Ikigai is a Japanese concept that emphasizes the intersection between passion, vocation, profession and social need. It helps identify long-term goals that provide both personal fulfillment and societal benefit.

Benefits: Clear vision for long-term goals and professional development.
Disadvantages: Complexity: Identifying one’s own ikigai often requires a deep understanding of oneself and values and reflection.

→ The Eisenhower Matrix optimizes the current flow of work, while Ikigai supports long-term goals and meaning. Both approaches complement each other in that the matrix promotes short-term efficiency and enables ikigai to have a long-term vision of life


5. Autofocus Method: Spontaneous Task Completion


The autofocus method is based on the principle that you spontaneously choose the tasks that appeal to or motivate you the most. Instead of creating a strict to-do list, you intuitively choose the task you feel like doing the most.

Pros: The autofocus method uses natural motivation and allows you flexibility in your choice of tasks. It can promote workflow and reduce the likelihood of procrastination.

Disadvantages: There is a risk of neglecting less attractive tasks. The method can also be less structured and potentially lead to a lack of planning.


6. Eat That Frog: The Resistance Ahead


This method encourages doing the most unpleasant task first to reduce emotional distress and start the day with a sense of accomplishment.

Benefits: Builds productivity, reduces procrastination, anxiety (failure) or shame.
Cons: Emotional challenge, requires perseverance.

→ The autofocus method emphasizes spontaneous selection of tasks based on motivation, while “Eat That Frog” encourages tackling unpleasant tasks first to reduce emotional distress.


7. Getting Things Done (GTD): Order in Chaos

This method focuses on organizing tasks into lists and categories.
Developed by David Allen, it frees the mind by breaking down tasks into clear steps:
1. Collect: Write down all tasks.
2. Process: Decide what to do.
3. Organize and implement: Prioritize, plan, and implement consistently.

Benefits: Reduces mental strain, leads to better organization.
Cons: Can be overwhelming if not managed properly.


8. Zen to Done (ZTD): Simplifying Getting Things Done


The Zen to Done method is a further development of the well-known Getting Things Done (GTD) method. It is simpler and more practical.

1. Mindful capture: Write down all tasks without overwhelming.
2. Simplification: Reduce to the essentials.
3. Be conscious: Focus on priorities for less stress and a better quality of life.

Benefits: simpler approach, encourages the elimination of distractions.
Disadvantages: less comprehensive, advanced organizational aspects cannot be taken into account.

→ While GTD is based on comprehensive organization and management of tasks, “Zen to Done” (ZTD) focuses on the simplicity and efficiency of routine.


9. Time Management Software:

Software and apps such as Trello, Asana or Notion help with task tracking, planning and communication. They provide automated reminders and improve teamwork, but require a learning curve.

Pros: Automated reminders, teamwork.
Cons: Learning curve, reliance on technology.


10. Use of checklists: Simple structure for everyday life

Checklists are written lists that depict daily tasks. They offer a clear overview and quick check-off, but often do not take into account the time component.

Advantages: Clear overview, quick check-off.
Disadvantages: No temporal structure, neglects prioritization.

→ time management software are digital tools, there are automatic reminders, requires a learning curve. Checklists are analogue lists for quick check-offs, often without a temporal structure and prioritization.


Ultimately, the key to successful time management lies in the clever combination of methods and personal self-reflection.

5. Psychology: reasons for lack of time management

Getting bogged down or struggling with time and self-management are common challenges that many people, including Leon, experience. Here are four psychological explanations for this:

1. Lack of self-regulation:

People often find it difficult to control their impulses and distractions. Leon might have trouble turning away from spontaneous thoughts or unexpected distractions, leading to inefficient use of time. In the case of serious disorders, psychotherapy could have a supportive effect to strengthen control over attention and develop more effective strategies for dealing with impulses.

The ability to delay short-term needs for long-term goals influences effective time management (Walter Mischel).

2. Unclear priorities and goals:

People without clear priorities and goals, like Leon, tend to move in different directions without a clear direction. This often leads to time and energy being wasted on activities that are not very effective. A self-directed approach helps to minimize this waste.

In their study “Goal Setting and Task Performance”, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham write that setting specific and challenging goals motivates and improves performance in time management.

3. Procrastination and procrastination:

The tendency to procrastinate tasks can leave people like Leon with a barrage of tasks at the last minute. Procrastination can also be an indication of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

The study “Procrastination and Task Avoidance: Theory, Research, and Treatment” by Joseph R. Ferrari shows that procrastination is often associated with inner critics, lack of self-discipline, and low self-esteem.

4. Lack of self-insight:

A lack of understanding of one’s strengths, weaknesses, and way of working can lead to shy people like Leon not making the best use of their time and resources. Without this awareness, it is difficult to develop efficient strategies.

Shelley E. Taylor and Jonathon D. Brown describe in “Self-awareness and the Elusive Self” that people with better self-insight are more likely to set realistic goals and organize themselves more effectively.

6. Time management and philosophy: the Stoa

Time management and Stoic philosophy may seem incompatible concepts at first glance, but in fact, Stoic principles, such as accepting what is beyond our control and appreciating the present moment, offer valuable insights for an efficient use of time.

The Art of Serenity

Stoic philosophy encourages serenity about things beyond our control, which can help Leon in stressful time management situations by focusing on what he can influence (his decisions and actions) and allowing the external stressors to have less influence.

Epictetus describes it this way: “Serenity is the art of enduring things that cannot be changed and the courage to change things that can be changed.”

Mindfulness and Presence:

To work more effectively on a task, Leon may try to focus mindfully on his present actions, minimizing distracting thoughts about the future or past.

Seneca describes it this way: “The thing that contributes most to the stillness of the mind is the ability to appreciate the present.”


Distractions and inner conflicts:

Leon can increase his productivity by not giving external distractions and inner conflicts power over his concentration, by muting his phone and focusing on important tasks.

Quote Marcus Aurelius: “Stay away from thoughts that distract from your actual path.”

© Timo ten Barge 23.01.24


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