BE 2021 Conference

Big Things & Little Things

Dec 20, 2017

One of the things I am asked about all the time is time management. People want to know how I find time to do the things that I do. I promise you I sleep (although, not much). I don’t have a group of minions doing work for me. I empty the dishwasher. I pay bills. I run to the store on my way home because we run out of laundry detergent.

The truth is, I don’t have it all figured out. In fact, I am laughing to myself because as I type this it’s 7:45 p.m., and I’m sitting on the side of the soccer field (indoor, thank you, Nebraska) writing a blog as my son practices soccer.

But I digress.

Ok…back to time management.

In the last year I have taken on mentoring and coaching a handful of women who want advice on how to manage all the things we juggle. I love it. I really do. I’ve gotten to know spectacular women, and I feel awesome that I get to play a little role in helping them find their passion.

These are smart women. I’ve had to figure out how to put into words how I time manage. I can’t trick these ladies…

Easier said than done.

So this is the key. This is my secret (besides unlimited black coffee all day every day. And dark chocolate. Lots of that.)

It’s about big things, and little things.

When we are trying to balance our jobs, our families, our relationships, our friendships, and our health all while finding the perfect skinny jeans, it’s really easy for our day to fill with little things. Emails. Phone calls. Texts. Questions from colleagues. A knock on the door. Errands. A birthday card to send. Flight to book. Dentist appointment. Emptying the dishwasher. Sweeping the garage. Going through mail.  These things, while important, can distract us from every doing big things. We can fill our day with these things, and at the end of it, we may not feel very accomplished.

Why?

Because we never got to the big things. The book chapter to write. The picture album from the girls trip you took that you’re dying to make. Writing that manuscript you’ve been putting off. Decluttering the office. Writing a presentation. Having a wonderful, long lunch with a friend. Organizing your closet. Trying a new exercise class.  Going on a date. Reading a new book. Writing a book. Submitting a grant. Training for a 10K. Going to a new place with the kids. Completing a research project. Calling your grandma. Things that take more than 15-30 minutes. Projects that take 1-4 hours of concentration and brain power. These are what I call big things. Things that you can easily put off because well, it’s hard to find the time to do things that take such a large chunk of your white space.

But it is the big things that make life memorable.

It is the big things that make us proud, bring out our creativity, and make us feel a sense of accomplishment. It is the big things that bring us success, in our personal life and our careers.

I’ve figured out that to achieve, I must be good at doing big and little things at the right time.

Let’s face it if you have two hours, you could knock out 20 little things. Or one big thing. And because the little things pile up, we tend to do them every day, and scratch them off our list.

But then they reappear.

Meanwhile the big things remain, silently, on a list, while we wait for the time management fairy to appear and somehow deliver us blocks of 2-4 hours of time.

Each Sunday I find one block of time during the upcoming week for big things. If I’ve planned a good week, I have managed to say “no” to little things, I may find two blocks. I carve them out. Those are my “big thing” blocks. And I resist ALL urges to do little things during those times.

Then I use all my small blocks to do small things. Thirty minutes here. An hour there. I knock out the little things I have to do, and I outsource the rest.

I’m not saying my way is the best, but it works for me. I don’t answer my phone or texts or emails during the big blocks. If I did, I’d get nothing written, created, studied or accomplished.

The little things matter; but the big things make us who we are.

So there you have it. It’s how I do what I do.

Maybe it will work for you: big things…little things…what’s next?

Do not the let the little things rob you of the joy in accomplishing the big things.

Now back to soccer.

Feeling stretched thin? I can show you 10 ways to get back TWO HOURS in your week!

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