Do You Manage Your Time Well?
Good time management and realistic goal setting can be two keys to better mental health
May 4, 2021
Time management sounds so adult. But the reality is that in today’s society, being busy can be seen as a badge of honor, and too many of us place value on cramming “just one more thing” into our already jam-packed schedules.
How often have you or someone in your life uttered the phrase “there isn’t enough time in the day”?
That should tell you something.
While it may sometimes be said in jest, too often we are failing to balance the stressful elements of our lives with things that are more mundane or simple—like packing a lunch, washing the dishes, or going for a walk. For many of us, these things can wait until later, but before you know it, the sun has set, it’s time for bed, and the cycle of being busy continues.
While it may feel good to be busy—and, in many cases, needed—too much can lead to serious physical and mental health concerns.
Many of us are struggling, but why and how much eludes us. Are you busy, are you not managing your time well—or is it some of both?
“I work in a high-paced environment where I look at my colleagues and think, well if they are constantly on the go, I should be able to keep up,” said Fiona Mulligan, a 43-year-old health care administrator. “The pace that I have created at work follows me home, so I honestly feel like I no longer know how to have downtime. I feel like I need to constantly produce and that one more email or one more phone call won’t hurt.”
According to Mulligan, her inability to create time for herself and the simple things has led to poor sleep habits, putting off or missing appointments to see her friends, and de-prioritizing the things she needs to stay healthy.
Understanding Time Management
Time management is a structured system that helps you organize projects and various tasks in your life. Everyone has a method that works for their unique situation. Some use calendars and diaries, while others depend on mobile and desktop apps to track their tasks.
Tasks can be broken down into long-term goals, short-term goals, and reasonable milestones. There’s a sense of accomplishment once you hit each milestone, which can boost your self-esteem. The inability to tackle all tasks may indicate ineffective time management, which can negatively impact your self-esteem and mental health.
“We all have things that we have to get done, whether it’s for work, for home, for school, or for personal enjoyment. But it is unrealistic to think we can do all of them at the same time and do them well.” – Dr. Philip G. Levendusky
“We all have things that we have to get done, whether it’s for work, for home, for school, or for personal enjoyment,” said Philip G. Levendusky, PhD, director of the Psychology Department at McLean Hospital. “But it is unrealistic to think we can do all of them at the same time and do them well.”
To help set expectations and not get bogged down in the feeling of having to accomplish everything immediately, Levendusky suggests:
- Prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency
- Be realistic about your timeline for completing your tasks
- Plan ahead
How Can You Tell if You’re Managing Time Well?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining if you’re managing your time well. After all, each person has stressors and obstacles.
According to Levendusky, asking yourself a few questions can help shed some light on whether you need to reconsider how you manage your time.
- Do you ever have the time to have fun or do activities that you enjoy?
- Are you always in a rush to get somewhere? Are you often late for engagements?
- Are you too busy to have a social life?
- Do you always feel pressure and are impatient?
- Are 24 hours not enough to do all the things you’d like to accomplish?
If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you may need to think about how you’re managing your time and examine if it’s starting to impact your mental well-being.