When time-management expert Laura Vanderkam studied the daily diaries of 1001 busy women, what she found turned common assumptions about time management on its head: when it comes to things we absolutely have to do, we find the time – whether we had it in the first place or not. What about those tasks you don’t necessarily have to do, but really want to, like finally learning French or reading your first Shakespeare?
When it comes to tasks, if you have to write it on a to-do list, it probably isn’t urgent. If it was urgent, you would’ve done it already or, at the very least, kept it in the back of your mind until you knocked it off. The majority of things that land on our to-do lists are things of an adulting nature that we reluctantly comply with: send Mum a birthday card; Kondo the crap out of your wardrobe; make a dental appointment; do something tonight other than watch Suits. For these tasks, it isn’t necessarily time that we need, it’s the right amount of energy to tackle these errands.
The standard to-do list revolves around a spare slot in your schedule: you’ve got a half an hour commute – why not use it to change your direct debits over to your new account? You usually have some time after dinner – why not call your friend overseas before bed?
The problem, of course, remains: you might have the time for a late-night, long-distance call, but do you have the energy? And that’s why it’s time to rethink the way you schedule your life admin tasks.
If you’re chipper before the sun comes up, schedule some stuff then. If you’re a night owl, try kicking life goals then. There’s no sense squeezing in something at a time when you’ll be reluctant to actually do it. Consider what mood you might be in when you have to make that birthday cake – it may change the whole outcome.