February 18, 2020
For today, let’s talk time management and productivity. Common buzz words that can go in one ear and out the other – sure it’s important, but who really has time? 🙂
Consider this – The biggest drains on academic productivity are:
1. Thinking you don’t have enough time.
2. Lacking a system to decide how you use your time.
3. Worrying that what you are doing is not good enough or doesn’t matter enough.
It is your thinking – and not the amount of time you actually have – that is the key player. 😊
So, let’s tackle these one at a time because you don’t have to stay stuck in any of these and today I’m sharing some tangible ways out.
I don’t have enough time. (aka time scarcity belief 🥺)
Listen, I get this. Time is a precious commodity and a non-renewable resource. As a clinician, surgeon, researcher, mentor, coach, spouse AND mommy of littles – I GET IT.
And, I’m telling you – the more you indulge in this thought, the less and less you will use the time you actually do have to get things done. It’s a self-fulfilling (and thus self-defeating) thought.
The game changed for me when I shifted from “There is not enough time!” to “I am building a career that fits within the time I have.” It is subtle, but powerful. It means there IS enough time for the career YOU want. When you believe the career you want fits within the time you have, your brain starts getting creative in how to make that happen. Instead of starting with defeat, you move into curiosity. And that leads us to #2 on the list…..
Lacking a system to decide how you use your time. (aka winging it😜)
No matter how little or how much time you have, the presence of a system to use that time effectively is the difference between your productivity being a random event at the mercy of outside circumstance or a consistent habit that creates consistent results. If you only have 90 minutes a week to work on your research – how are you using that? How often do you show up to that 90 min knowing *exactly* what you want to get done and then actually doing it within the time allotted? How often do you spend half the time checking emails or just…deciding what to actually do? Having a system, where you make these decisions in advance, is your power move.
At it’s most basic, a system means you:
Sure it may take you 6 weeks to finish..which is light-years faster than letting it languish for 6 months, or more, trapped on the never-ending to-do list, forever living in “I just need to finish this” land. When you are trapped in the loop of time scarcity and disorganized progress, you become especially vulnerable to the 3rd and final productivity drain….
Worrying that your work is not good enough or doesn’t matter enough. (aka imposter syndrome paralysis🥶)
Willpower is a finite resource. There is only so long and so hard you can work on a paper or grant that you worry doesn’t really matter. For this one, we have to disentangle imposter syndrome from the desire for rigor. They are different but can masquerade as the same. Imposter syndrome is a monster who is always hungry for more reassurance, more security. Rigor is curious and has specific questions that have specific answers. Is your hesitation from the hungry monster or the curious scientist? Identify the source, then proceed accordingly. Rigor gets your time, the monster does NOT.
These 3 productivity drains – time scarcity belief, lack of a system, imposter syndrome paralysis – are each an opportunity to shift into new habits with practice. Take 1 or all 3 and give them a whirl.
Start with the simple thought – The career I want fits within the time I have.
You and your work are worth it. 💜