The Importance of Protecting Your Time

Tips Business Time Management

Time is the most limited resource we all have in our lives. Once it's gone, it's gone forever. Having ADHD, time is easily lost in jumping between projects. Often, a random thought becomes a necessary pursuit that easily consumes your entire day. It's a struggle, and one that most people with ADHD deal with every single day.

Often, this time lost comes at a significant cost to other aspects of your life. Your work performance, personal relationships, and life goals. If you've lost just one hour each day for a year, you will have missed out on a little over 15 days of productive time. Imagine what you could do with an extra 15 days each year.

Protecting your time means putting a value on each moment and safeguarding it from being squandered by other individuals, fruitless efforts, and simple waste. It doesn't mean giving up your favorite hobbies or even your guilty pleasures.

Here are some tips that have helped me. This isn't a perfect list, as I know that I continue to struggle with time management. Everyone's individual perfect solution is unique.

Schedule Your Tasks

Keeping a calendar and blocking off time for the things I know I need to accomplish during the day is a huge help to protecting my time. I liberally allocate time to tasks, often overestimating the time each one takes to a small degree so that I am more often ahead of schedule than behind.

Think of each task on your to-do list, even the ones that are simple pleasures like playing a video game or taking a nap, as a portion of your day. You can determine how big or small of a portion each of these things are, and block off that time. This achieves two things:

  1. Creates guardrails that prevent you from spending too much time on a single task, pushing back progress on your other projects.
  2. A prevanative measure against overscheduling your day or overwhelming you with too much to do in a limited amount of time.

Learn to Say No

Sometimes, the best thing to do for yourself and others is to say, "No." People pleasing is a very easy way to throw off your entire schedule, giving you little room to accomplish the things you actually need to finish throughout the day.

Knowing when to accept new work or invitations is half the battle to reclaiming your time. The biggest culprits of time suck are "quick questions" or "simple asks" that don't appear to be a big deal at the time, but end up taking you down a rabbit hole that ruins your week.

If you find yourself in need of a break from the quick asks, I recently received some great advice.

Schedule (there's that word again) a block of time each week to address those quick favors, and let people know you're swamped, but would be happy to address the issues at the specified time.

Leave a Buffer

Even the best scheduling and the most persistent time tracking can result in the occasional creep. Leave yourself a buffer in your weekly schedule to wrap up the tasks that you couldn't quite complete in time.

Maybe this is a few hours on Friday, or a couple hours before bed on Saturday. Whatever you need to tick the final boxes on your to-do list, go for it.

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