Copyright 2000 W. Jan Austin, Corporate Coach and President of Potential At Work, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Phone 585-533-1249






The feeling of being out of control and unable to manage one’s time is a complaint that so many people have today, it may well be epidemic.  It’s easy to see why, when we consider that the pace of just about everything has increased, and the amount of information bombarding us is unprecedented at any time in history.  The search for solutions has led many to workshops, counselors, and coaches.


Consider the following questions about you and your time:


q       How do you wish to be in better control of your time?  What benefits would there be for you in doing this?


q       What is the feeling that results from not having enough time to manage your personal and work commitments?


q       What’s drives “busy-ness” for YOU? 


q       What happens when you attempt to complete a task while feeling “pressed for time”?  Do any of the following sound familiar?


-       A lot of effort with minimal results

-       Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion

-       Lack of clarity and focus

-       Inability to respond to other things in the environment (irritable, distracted)

-       Likelihood of making mistakes increases

-       Minimal satisfaction with the task

-       Time seems to fly


q       What are the consequences for YOU in your work and personal relationships if you are regularly caught up in a cycle of “busy-ness”? Many people report the following:

-       Appear frenzied, confused, not in control, less trusting of others

-       May seem untrustworthy, unable to handle projects

-       May consistently fail to meet deadlines

-       Appear to lack confidence, competence

-       Relationships may suffer

-       Performance may deteriorate

-       “Putting out fires” may obscure seeing the bigger picture/priorities


q       When you think about the projects or relationships with which you’ve been most successful, what stands out?  Was it a lot of effort?  Was there a sense of ease?  Was it a combination?


Manage "busy-ness" and the sense that time is out of control by incorporating the following top ten steps:


1.      Start with the recognition that you’re not managing time.  You can only manage yourself (your attitudes, beliefs and actions) within the flow of time.  The experience of time has more to do with your thoughts than with clock time.  The stress you feel that you associate with time originates in your thinking.  Example:  Think about the distinction in your perception of time between when you’re late and when you’re waiting for someone who’s late.  The actual clock time doesn’t change, but your experience of time does, based on your perception.


2.      Prioritize your efforts. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, makes the distinction between things that are important and things that are urgent.  Most of the time, doing the things that are important, rather then urgent, results in greater effectiveness.  In other words, don’t major in minor things.


3.      Do less to get more.  Economize your efforts.  Look for the big problems, which, when resolved, will render smaller problems irrelevant or make them easier to deal with.


4.      Eliminate sources of adrenaline.  These are substances, activities, relationships, situations, or attitudes that result in your feeling “charged up”.  Adrenaline can distract you from the focus needed to complete a project, increase feelings of anxiety, and intensify the feeling that time is flying.  Over time, excessive adrenaline can have negative health consequences as well.


5.      Eliminate things which are taxing your time and energy.  These are the situations, attitudes or behaviors (in yourself or others) that you’re putting up with in your personal or work life which don’t serve you or your larger purpose but consume physical, mental and/or emotional energy.  Eliminating them results in an increase in available energy for people and projects, an over all feeling of calmness, and the experience of more time to get things done.


6.      Simplify your environment.  Clutter in your office or home environment can create stress.  It can actually “feel” like you have more work to do than you really do when you “archive” things you don’t need in your environment.


7.      Simplify your tasks.  This may involve over-responding and under-responding.  Examples:  Under-responding--a fax which needs only a quick response or a confirmation.  You can write your answer on the faxed document and fax it right back.  Over-responding—if someone asks you for something specific, and you know that by offering more help than was specifically asked for, you can avoid the situation or issue from coming back to you in the form of a problem, then isn’t it worth it to do more?  Make a point of over-responding to any situation in which there is an opportunity to solve more than one problem in the process and when there is the potential for the situation to be presented again, requiring additional energy.


8.      Really listen to others.  When you allow other thoughts to intrude into your “listening space”, you actually create anxiety for yourself about both what you are listening to and what you allow to intrude.  This anxiety is created because you can neither act immediately on the thoughts you allowed to intrude, nor can you completely take in what the person with whom you are talking is trying to tell you.  You are left feeling incomplete with both.


9.      Decide what you can give up in order to get what you want.  The day has only 24 hours in it, and yet, how many times have you “borrowed” from the next day to finish a project and thereby lost valuable sleep, or “borrowed” from your relationships to pursue a goal, or borrowed from your personal time with yourself to work on a project?  When we choose among multiple possibilities for how we will spend our work and/or personal time, the universe almost always asks us to choose what we will give up in order to have the “more” in our personal or work lives.  Much pain and suffering around “managing time” could be avoided if this process were respected. 


10. Find some time each day for quiet reflection.  When you commit to spending some time each day suspending your thoughts and judgments and creating inner stillness, you’ll train your body and mind in what it feels like and with that awareness, you can transform how you experience the flow of time when you are “in the world”. 



Written by W. Jan Austin, M.S., M.P.A., P.C.C., Corporate Coach and President of Potential At Work, Rochester, NY, who can be reached at or 585-533-1249