Saying Goodbye to the Time Scarcity Mantra Within

By Jessica Speas posted 05-09-2023 23:34

Too Busy image

Time. I think I'm usually pretty good with my time management. But all it took was a series of unfortunate events recently for me to bemoan time scarcity, throw out all the "tools" I knew and start to melt down. 

You see, some recent personal and professional occurrences derailed me and my practice's management. I fell into an "I don't have time" scatterbrain mode that was bad for me and the practice. On the practice side, there is never a good time for a time scarcity crisis, but this felt worse, an aggressive quarterly plan and goals, essential meetings, mixed in with a conference to attend on the other side of the country. This was all added to all the other responsibilities that make up the normal day-to-day.

Initially, I tried to work through it, calm my nerves and get myself back on track. But I still struggled. After a few weeks of this nonsense, I had to stop and regroup.

I was reminded of the classic Covey Time Management Grid, which I learned about years ago in one of the first leadership programs I ever attended. Using four quadrants, the grid helps you rank your tasks by how urgent and important they are. Unfortunately, for my crisis, everything was urgent and important.

The general idea of the grid is the tasks that are most important and should be completed on an urgent basis go into Quadrant 1. The tasks that are important but don't involve impending deadlines go into Quadrant 2. Time-sensitive but not too important tasks go into Quadrant 3. Finally, tasks that are not important and don't involve upcoming deadlines (perhaps the biggest culprits of stolen time!) go into Quadrant 4.

By using this simple tool, I had a much easier time saying NO to unnecessary meetings and requests. I started delegating items to staff members. I also began taking important steps to control time-stealing distractions. I set Outlook into offline mode, set my internal messaging system to "Do Not Disturb," and postponed several meetings by a few weeks.

Most importantly, I let my leadership team know what was happening to me. I was honest about the "time scarcity" sinkhole I was floundering in. They gave me space to deal with the urgent and important issues.

Finally, since I am a believer that self-talk can become self-fulfilling. I changed my internal conversation. No longer do I say in my head, "I don't have the time." My mantra now is, "I have the time, and I will get through this." And thanks to my changes to reduce time scarcity, I believe my own words.

OK, I am done writing this short but purposeful blog, which took less time than usual. Now, back to work!

Jessica Speas, CVPM, SPHR, PHR-ca, SHRM-SCP, CCFP
VHMA President