We’re making our working lives harder than they need to be

We forget just how recently our lives were transformed by mainstream use of the internet, email and smartphones. We used to have long stretches of time available to work on projects without constant interruptions and demands. Without those periods of time we’re feeling flustered and rushed and overwhelmed — we’re split in myriad directions every day, trying to keep up and worrying things are falling through the cracks.

Technology has blazed ahead, leaving us staggering in its wake, and we find ourselves saying ‘there’s not enough time’.

And we make it worse and over-complicate our lives by doing things being ‘Badge of Honour Busy’ (keeping ourselves busier than other people because we love it when they look at us admiringly and say ‘I don’t know how you do it!’).

Or we use being busy to run away from problems in our lives. We avoid having to address something hard — we avoid being quiet enough to notice the problem — by having a bulging calendar of commitments so we’re off the hook.

Or we have a belief that ‘nobody does this as well as I do’. That it’s just quicker if we do it ourselves, whether that’s edit the work brief or fold the towels properly at home…

Or we spend time ‘colouring in the title page’ – messing around making things perfect, lining up ducks, fussing about minor details instead of leaping in, boots and all, getting messy and getting on with it.

Or we people-please until our diary is bursting…

Or we give in to ‘Imposter Syndrome’. We feel like a fraud. We don’t know what we’re doing, and think we’ve somehow slipped through the system undetected, and it’s only a matter of time before we’re found out and exposed. So we stay back late, working harder than we need to, to protect against this.

All of these things lead us to feel trapped and over-worked and resentful and exhausted.

Which is a shame, because there is enough time to enrich our lives. There is a way to make more progress. We just need to re-set the way we’re tackling things.

It’s about reclaiming the nooks and crannies of time in the day. There’s a myth that a few minutes isn’t long enough to get anything worthwhile done.

If you look at your watch and there’s a meeting in 15 minutes, there’s an assumption that that’s only enough time to check email, or make a cup of tea or go to the bathroom. It’s not enough time to do any ‘real work’.

Similarly, in our personal lives, we write off small doses of time as not worthwhile for exercise or to read or enjoy a hobby.

But these pockets of time in our day aren’t blank space. They’re not the offcuts of the day. Thanks to the pace and structure of our lives in the digital age, unless we take a day and work in isolation, offline, these pockets of time are now all we have. They ARE the day.

And they’re surprisingly powerful, if you choose to harness them…

Enquiries about delivering this training to your team are welcome. Please get in touch.

Emma & Audrey

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About The Author

Emma Grey & Audrey Thomas

Audrey Thomas and Emma Grey are productivity experts, authors of 'I Don't Have Time' and its forthcoming sequel 'I Can't Be Bothered', and co-founders of the popular online program, My 15 Minutes. They help busy women reclaim their time and energy around the real-life challenges of modern life.

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