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How time management skills can be the most powerful step to prevent burnout

Updated: Aug 15, 2023


Man leaning his head into a corner with his eyes closed and post its all over his face, body and the walls around him.

Maybe you think quitting your job is the only solution, and I am not saying you are wrong, but without time management skills, you could find yourself in the same boat in your next job as well. When we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, we often dream of life without work as an ideal. However, we humans also become stressed when we have nothing to do. We like to be busy. The key to healthy mental states is having enough to do to keep you occupied without creating a state of overwhelm. The most powerful way to achieve this state is through time management skills.


What do we mean by time management?

I hate to tell you, but time management is not a magic formula that helps us mysteriously create more time or get everything done off our lists. It does help us prioritize and use our time more effectively. It is really about thinking about our priorities and planning our time to make sure our priorities are met.


Why do I need to improve my time management skills?

The number one reason we all need time management skills is that time is our most limited resource. Consider that everyone on this planet has the same amount of time. Some of us may have more on our list or more ability to pay for people to do things on our list, but all of us need to sleep and eat, and all of us are limited in time. Money can buy the privilege of saving time by getting other people to complete time-consuming tasks, but you can't really buy more time.


Furthermore, the main cause of burnout is the idea of time scarcity or time poverty - the feeling that we don't have enough time to do everything on our list. By learning to take control over our time, we become empowered beings. We feel we are making choices and have agency over our time rather than putting out fires and reacting to events as they happen to us.


Why do leaders need time management skills?

Leaders typically have more on their plate than the typical employee. Therefore, they have to learn how to juggle even more demands on their time and are more likely to feel the time scarcity that leads to burnout.


The issue of time poverty also cannot simply be solved by individuals and self-care routines. Leaders need to acknowledge the problem and take steps to adjust time frames and expectations so that workloads are manageable.


The last few years surfaced issues of burnout through the great resignation and quiet quitting. People are feeling chronically disempowered and either resign or do as little as possible out of self-preservation. The loss of this human power is incredibly expensive to our organizations.


How can I take control of my time?

Try adopting some of these simple strategies.


Write Down Everything

The most basic starting step is to write down everything you need to do. Even better, write down on your calendar WHEN you will do it, and then write down what you are doing as you do it. You can use electronic tools or old-fashioned paper and pencil. The important part is that it is always with you and accessible.


Prioritize

Consider what actions are important for you to reach your goals. Put those items first and make sure you get them done. Even better, spend some time envisioning where you want to be, what kind of person you want to be, what you want to have accomplished, and focus on actions that will get you closer to that vision of your future self.


Do Less

At some point, you will need to recognize that you cannot possibly do everything on your list (this is an almost daily challenge for me!!!). The good news is that since you have written everything down, envisioned your better human, and figured out what that person needs to do, now you can cut out the items from the list that don't support that vision.




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