The MAGIC formula:
It applies to:
Time to Take Control
It is a zero-sum game. There are only a fixed amount of hours in your day, your week, your year.
To connect with yourself, you need space. To enable this, you need to take charge of your time management. It is too easy to let it run away with you. Take control so that you can live a fulfilling, productive and sustainable life. Run your time, don’t let time run you.
Yes and No
Saying yes to one thing will always mean saying no to something else. It’s unavoidable. Agreeing to an evening business meeting means saying no to watching TV. Arranging a weekend with the family might mean missing a conference. Taking on a new job or project could mean forfeiting some rest and recreation.
We only have a certain amount of hours.
So how do we ensure that we give our time and energy to the things that matter?
Time and Values
How we allocate our time directly stems from our personal values.
Think about new parents. They may well argue that their time is not their own – all their time and energy is taken by their new baby. I know the feeling, I’ve been there three times! However, even this is a reflection on their values.
Their child is the most important thing in the parents’ lives, hence their willingness to sacrifice time. It is still a choice. They could theoretically decide to neglect the child. But the parents don’t do this because of their values.
This concept translates into other areas of your life. You might argue that your job demands all your time, but, at the end of the day, it is up to you. Ultimately you might decide that you don’t want to give it that status and that might mean you have to change jobs. It is your job, it is your time, it is your choice.
You may well be familiar with the image of putting big rocks, stones and sand into a jar:
– The big rocks represent the essential things in life, e.g., significant birthdays, weddings, funerals, holidays.
– The stones are the important things: critical work meetings, regular exercise, time for reflection., etc.
– The sand is everything else, the hundred emails that come in every day, ad hoc meetings, telephone calls.
The lesson from the jar is that if you put all the sand in first, there’s no room for anything else. Put the big rocks in first, then the stones, and then let the sand fill in the gaps.
Your Time is Your Own
Crucially, remember that you have ultimate agency in all of this. It is your choice, every step of the way. And remember, your time management will be different from anybody else’s.
You have your own unique set of people and pressures making demands. Your energy levels through the day will be different from anyone else’s.
Work out your priority list, put the big rocks in first and go from there. I love the book Essentialism (#ad) by Greg McKeown. He encourages us to work out the things that only we can do and then leave the rest to others.
Time to Observe
Practically, how do you go about time management?
It is useful to observe yourself. Think about how tired certain activities make you. How much rest do you need? How much time do you need for recreation, exercise and meals?
Work out what is realistic and sustainable for you in terms of a work-life rhythm. Do you put sufficient time buffers between zoom meetings, for example, so you can recharge and reset your brain?
Your needs will be different from those of others. When planning your diary, use your imagination to visualise the coming day or week. Picture how you will cope with the schedule you’re putting in place.
Consider how you want to receive phone calls. Are you happy to answer a call at any time? I’m not! I view a phone call as an ad-hoc meeting. Personally, I am not ready to have a meeting the moment somebody else decides they want one. I need time to prepare.
In an attempt to manage this, I now use Calendly so people can book in for calls. Some people really don’t like it, but even they are realising that I probably won’t pick up the phone immediately. They now leave a message or text asking to speak at a later time. It seems to be working…
It’s all about work-life-balance. Or as I like to call it, work-life-magic 🙂
From my physical theatre and circus background, I learned that there are two types of balance: static and dynamic.
Static balance is where something is poised and balanced without moving, precisely even weight distribution. Think of a see-saw with no-one on it. Sometimes we think that our work-life balance should be like this, that we can achieve the perfect balance, and then it is just set forever.
However, I think life is much more like a dynamic balance. Picture a tightrope walker continually adjusting their weight, shifting one way or the next with their arms or balance pole.
As you go through life, your circumstances change, and you will need to shift and adjust to create a sustainable rhythm. Sometimes you will need to work more. Sometimes you will need more leisure. That is natural.
Ultimately, remember, you have agency. It is up to you. It all depends on your priorities.
Is it time to find your work-life-magic?
Download my free eBook “Be Kind to Yourself” and learn how to:
- Adapt to new ways of working
- Harness the power of habits
- Optimise the use of space in your home
- Use clothes to boost productivity
- Focus on what matters
- Plan for the future amidst uncertainty