The Nap Times

Hello Everyone and welcome to the August 2023 Nap Times! I have one last guest writer for you all that will bring our summer edition of The Nap Times to a close. I hope you have enjoyed these as much as I have! It was my desire to bring in people who are experts in categories I think many of us struggle, and this last one is a BIG ONE: Time Management. I know we all have days where we feel like we slayed it and other days where we wonder where the heck the time went and if we actually got anything done. I hope my friend Meaghan can help us all with this often daily, often overwhelming task of getting things done and managing our time well. 
Allow me to introduce Meaghan Langston
Meaghan Langston, aka The Meaning Mentor, is a certified professional coach, productivity expert, and mom of three. She offers a unique perspective on managing time that can be helpful for anyone looking for better work-life balance or just wanting to show up with more intentionality in their life.

3 Perspective Shifts for
Better Time Management
It’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy and that concept rings true for how we view our ability to manage our time effectively. For so long, I would beat myself up for not being able to do more with my time, as I watched moms on Instagram fit an entire workday in while homeschooling their kids, and still serve a delicious homemade meal at the end of the day. 
The perspectives I’m going to share not only saved me from the trap of comparison, they are the very foundation I believe is necessary to improve time management and create a life of more meaning. I hope you’ll embrace these perspectives in your journey to show up at your best for the things in your life that matter to you most.
Shift #1: From “Efficiency” to “Intentionality”
Think back to the most meaningful experiences in your life (perhaps graduating college, getting married, or birthing your children) — most required a great deal of energy. When we focus on efficiency, our main concern is producing the greatest amount of output with the least amount of energy. Operating with efficiency is not a bad thing and is often necessary to accomplish a wide range of tasks throughout the day. However, our focus and sometimes obsession with efficiency can limit our willingness to engage in other spontaneous and meaningful ways.
I first noticed this problem when my kids were needing more attention, and rather than delighting in them coming to me, I felt burdened by their requests. Then, listening to many clients describe their struggle with spending time on their phone as if it were a moral failing. Certainly completing our work and limiting time on our phones are worthwhile pursuits! But focusing SO MUCH on efficiency is what can lead to this resentment of others or this feeling of guilt whenever we take a break.
A shift to intentional thinking means acknowledging that while you may not be doing the most efficient thing at all times, you can be aware of and in control of how you choose to spend your time. Questioning ourselves, then adapting our decisions, allows us to be flexible and productive – which is especially helpful if you work in an environment where you deal with complex and unpredictable problems. Thinking intentionally will also help you prioritize and maybe even eliminate tasks from your to-do list completely.
So remember next time you honor your body when it needs to rest or take the long way home so you can have more time to think — that is intentional. And that is productive.
Make the shift: An easy way to apply this is to simply ask yourself throughout the day, what is my intention for this time? When you pick up your phone, sit down at your desk, or get a moment to yourself, what is your intention?
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Shift #2: From “Disciplined” to “Strategic”
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good to-do list! And most productivity experts will advise making a list and working through it in order of priority. Still, many people find despite their best efforts to stay disciplined, they are surprised and frustrated with how little they are able to accomplish. That may be because self-discipline is personal – that’s why it’s called “SELF” discipline. It doesn’t account for the many external factors that impact our ability to accomplish tasks on any given day.
Strategy, on the other hand, considers your environment, resources, energy levels, and the expectations of others. When you look at your task list, the most pressing items may only be accomplished under specific circumstances, thus simply doing them in order could detract from what you might otherwise accomplish easily during that time. 
The example that sticks out the most for parents of young children is probably naptime. It’s that sacred 3 hours (or sometimes 30 minutes) of your day when you have time to work on something interruption free! A strategic approach to managing this time would be to consider what tasks on your to-do list are best done with minimal distraction. Maybe that’s reading, writing or cooking, and perhaps waiting to fold the laundry or walk the dog when your kids are awake.
A strategic perspective will allow you to account for your own energy and motivation throughout the day and week and plan accordingly. As you shift your focus to strategy over discipline, you’ll notice yourself stop working so hard to accomplish tasks with no strategic advantage and you’ll stop judging yourself when things go undone.
Make the shift: Start by categorizing your days (or pockets of your days) based on the environment and resources you have available to you. Next, jot down the daily or weekly tasks that make the most sense to complete during those given times. If you’re struggling to make this work, I unpack this concept in depth in my online productivity course, Calendar Mastery.
Shift #3: From “Task-Driven” to “Value-Driven”
A task-driven perspective locks you in to managing your time based on a series of tasks. It asks the question, “what can you get done today?” A value-driven approach is flexible, adaptive, and purposeful. It asks, “how will you show up today?” Values are simply another way to help you identify the end goal or the “why” behind what you are doing.
For example, if you value quality family time, it may mean sit-down meals together are a priority. All the tasks associated with that (planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning) will become daily commitments. As your life begins to be structured around this commitment, you’ll realize other things like having an organized and clutter free play space for your children doesn’t provide the same value, and it’s something you could let go of in this season.
Ultimately, when we stop judging our productivity based on the number of tasks we’ve completed, and start to focus on our ability to drive value from the work we do, we’ll be more motivated and satisfied with how we spend our time. Plus, once you identify what truly matters, you’ll be able to let go of the things that don’t, and in doing so, eliminate many of the tasks from your to-do list.
Make the shift: Write down the 2 or 3 values that you want to characterize your family or work life during this season. Then consider how the projects and tasks that you’ve set out to do on a daily basis would help you best pursue those values and which don’t. 
Quick Tips for Time Management
  • Avoid multitasking. Multitasking is simply switching from task to task quickly, giving you the illusion that you are doing two things at once. Instead, focus your full attention on a single task and you’ll complete it faster and with more accuracy.
  • Limit distractions. Reduce getting distracted on your phone by taking social media and email notifications off or using an app like Freedom or Forest to restrict access.
  • Plan out your week. Once a week, sit down and take a look at your schedule. Jot down a few things that you’d like to accomplish each day and block out specific times in your week to work on those.
  • Build in margin. Plan for your schedule to NOT go as planned or for things to take longer than expected. This will help you set more realistic goals for your time, reduce frustration, and allow for more spontaneity.
  • Learn to say no. If you’re overcommitted or have unrealistic expectations for yourself it’ll be impossible to manage your time effectively. Identify the main priorities for this season of your life and start letting go of the things that aren’t aligned with them.
  • Set a timer. If you’re struggling to get started on something, set a short timer and commit to working on that one task for a period of time. You can also use timers as a competition to engage your kids and make it fun!
  • Delegate. Focus on the things that ONLY you can do and delegate the rest. Try giving your kids age appropriate responsibilities or consider hiring help to free your time to focus on other things.

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If you’re struggling to keep up with or manage your to-do list and calendar on a daily basis, I have a course for you! Calendar Mastery is based on a workshop that I have facilitated over 200 times in the last two years to individuals, small groups and businesses across many different sectors. The tenants taught in this course can be applied to the stay-at-home parent, working individual or entrepreneur. If you want to do more in less time and have better work-life balance, this course is for you!
          Alright friends! I hope you enjoyed this newsletter from Meaghan. Thank you so much for tuning into this series. I'll be back next month as your newsletter writer. Have a topic you want me to write on? Reply to this email and let me know what it is! I know there's a million things you could subscribe to, and it means so much to me to have you here.