Blame Your System, Not Your Time Management

  • Published on:
    July 13, 2021
  • Reading time by:
    3 minutes
Blame Your System Not Your Time Management WOMENONTOPP.com women on topp

“I used to feel organized.” I hear that a lot from working women. Women who thrived through high school, college, and often grad school with glowing marks and a lot of community involvement.

But then, these same women take on real-world jobs, manage a home, often establish romantic partnerships, and sometimes have children, and that thriving starts to feel more like merely surviving. 

These same women suddenly feel like they’re always dashing from fire to fire, constantly worrying about dropping a ball, and are unable to be as present as they’d like to be with friends and family.

 “I’m just terrible at managing my time and to-do’s,” they think. “What’s wrong with me?”

I know because I’ve been there. After thriving through law school, I felt like the wheels fell off when I became an actual attorney at a big law firm in Boston. While I looked like I had it together on the outside, managing numerous cases with hard deadlines completely overwhelmed me. 

“What is wrong with me?” went through my head way too often—a new thought I did not welcome. 

While I felt this way, I also knew from past experience that life didn’t need to feel so overwhelming – or at least, I hoped it didn’t. That, combined with my weird love of nerding out on anything related to managing time and tasks, helped me find a realistic solution that worked for me. 

And here’s what I learned:

I, in fact, was not bad at time management. I just had a terrible system. Here’s what I mean.

Your system is bad at time management

Here’s what my old system looked like: numerous to-do lists, swamps of post-it notes, email inboxes that acted like (ever-growing) to-do lists, to-do’s buried within meeting notes and notebooks, phone app notes with soon-to-be-forgotten lists of things to do, occasional critical things scrawled on my hand, and so much just jostling around in my brain. 

While a variation of this system may have served us well through college, it just cannot keep up with the demands put on our modern working woman’s time.

If you’re way too familiar with what that system looks like, here’s what I want you to realize: when our action items and all the things that require our time live in so many different places, we don’t have one clear view of everything on our plate. And without that, we definitely don’t have a clear understanding of how we can get it all done – or if we can get it all done. 

That creates a whole lot of uncertainty, which leads to increased stress. 

Moreover, when new requests come in through email or our phone, we don’t have a clear understanding of how they stack up priority-wise with everything already on our plate, so we ditch any plans we had to address the new fire we’re facing at the moment. We stay stuck in firefighting mode, constantly jumping from task to task and ending the day confused, knowing we were busy but unclear about what we actually got done. After all, our crazy to-do lists still look miles long. It’s defeating, exhausting, and overwhelming. 

But, please hear me when I say: It’s your system’s fault – not a character flaw.

A system swap can give you that clarity and peace of mind you’ve been craving

In the article, I Was a Successful Lawyer Suffering From Imposter Syndrome Until I Changed This Productivity Habit, I share information on the system you can use to help you protect your time. This system swap was life-changing for me, and it’s worked for dozens of women I’ve worked with since.

For today, the most important thing I want you to hear is that time management struggles are not internal character flaws and can, in fact, be overcome by switching out your system.  

It’s critical that you understand that life doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming, that the overwhelm does not stem from something “wrong with you,” and that a lighter mental load, feelings of accomplishment, and more peace of mind are possible. And possible for you.

Instead of using a system that prevents you from understanding how you’ll get it all done, keeps you stuck in firefighting mode, and leads to daily defeat, you need a system that helps you have a clear view of everything on your plate and a realistic understanding of how you can get it done over time – even if you take a break tonight.  

Just by switching out your system, you’ll feel more on top of your work and personal to-do’s, clear on how they all interact and can get done over time, and able to be more present with friends and family when you’re not at work.

Ready for it? Dive into the article I mentioned up there and get started.  

Kelly Nolan

Kelly Nolan is an attorney-turned-time management strategist and mom. Using realistic time management strategies, she helps modern working women manage everything on their plate with less stress and more calm clarity. To get Kelly’s free guide on how to ditch your overwhelm, click here: https://www.kellynolan.com/ditch-your-overwhelm

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