Time Management Skills

Struggling with time management can feel like you’re always putting out fires, never having time to lead and live your life. 

Most people look for a new app or buy a new planner when they want to learn how to get better at managing their time. 

This may work for a little while, but before long, you’ll fall back into old habits. 

The reason this happens is something so different than what we’re taught.

The reason is your brain. 

Your brain is the tool that manages your time.

So, if you haven’t learned how to manage your brain to succeed with time, you can’t be successful long term.

In this episode, you learn how to optimize your brain for time management success. 

Here are more resources that will help you with this episode:

Full Time Management Skills Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.

Welcome to the podcast. How are you feeling? So I am finally starting to feel a little better. I was really under the weather with a cold, and it just has me so appreciative of health today. I’m just really thinking about what a privilege it is to be healthy and feeling really grateful for my body and how my body always is trying to heal and recover and tell me when it needs rest.

Just a moment to pause and really think about what your body is telling you. So that’s how I’m feeling today. If you have not reviewed the podcast, could you do me a favor and hop on over to the podcast page in iTunes and scroll down and give my podcast a review? The reason that this is so important is that it really helps iTunes know that this is a good show and it will show the show to other people.

And that means more people can find this work and really change their life. That’s how I was first introduced to this work and thought work, and I haven’t looked back ever since. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you in advance. And for those of you who have left reviews, I read them all and I appreciate them so, so much.

Today I want to talk with you about a fan favorite and it is time management skills. We are talking about procrastination and planning in Grow You this month. It’s the topic of the month. We’re doing a lot of work on improving our productivity and our relationship with time. And I went back and listened to the previous podcasts that I’ve recorded about time and planning and procrastination. And I was looking for what I haven’t brought to you yet. Like what could I add? What can I really help you with today that’s different from the past.

So today’s episode is going to be a little bit more advanced. If this is your first time listening welcome, this might be a little bit more advanced and I would definitely recommend going back and listening to Time Scarcity, The Planning podcast, episodes, Procrastination. And then coming back to this one.

For the rest of you, I want to start off with talking about the biggest problem that I see with time management. The problem I see the most is that people think they need to take different action while staying the same. So what this looks like practically is downloading a new time management app or buying a new planner or getting some new productivity software, um, and trying to change those actions without changing who you are, meaning without changing your thoughts and feelings as it relates to time, because most people don’t have the awareness that that’s what needs to change before your actions and results change.

So instead what happens is we kind of create this busy culture where we complain about not having enough time, and that’s how we connect with other people. We kind of rush around wanting more time looking at blog posts or listening to podcasts about time management, but not really ever changing who we are. And it’s because we’re so focused on taking the action without knowing that we need to manage our minds first and really transform who we are in order to get better at time management.

And the reason that this is how it works is because time management is really mind management. So time the concept of days and weeks, and months, and years is something that we created. We, the humans with our minds, like just like we did with money, okay. Now we created the concepts, of course, you know, without our minds there’s existence, right?

But our minds are what came up with the concepts. That’s why you hear people talk about time being a mental construct and how there is only this present moment. Quite literally there is, but we’ve created these concepts of days, weeks, months, minutes, years to really help us understand and make sense of life and to kind of live it really more intentionally.

So think about this for a second. If you don’t have a brain, you don’t have time. Now that might sound a little bit kind of woo or it might sound like yes, obviously either way. I want you to think of the example of the tree falling in the woods. So the example is if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? So the answer is no, because sound is relative and only exists when a brain is there to interpret it.

So your brain is the thing that interprets everything, including time. You with me. So you use your brain to decide how to spend and invest your time. This might make complete sense to you, and you might be with me saying, yes, yes, yes. But if you’re struggling with time management really slow down and think about what I’m saying.

So the way that you get better at managing your time is to get better at managing your brain. Right? I like to think of weight loss or budgeting as examples, where I can give you a food plan. I can give you a budget and that’s kind of the easy part. Like I can give you a plan for your calendar and I do that for you in Grow You. But the problem is in the follow through. And I’ve talked a lot about it in previous episodes with resistance and your brain and transitions.

So I don’t want to spend a lot of time in this episode on that particularly, I want to take a step back and I want you to see that it’s your brain that actually decides how to spend your time, because it’s your brain that is interpreting time. So without your brain, there is no time. So I was thinking about your brain. And I was thinking about time and the body and all the things as I was preparing for this episode.

And I decided that time is the most important asset that you have outside of your brain and body. So I think that your brain is the most valuable and then your body, and you can kind of lump them together in a way, when I’m talking about your body, I’m talking about taking care of your physical health. And when, I mean your brain, I’m talking about your mental health.

So in general, your health, and then after that is time, why am I articulating it in this way? Because you can’t create more minutes. So your time is limited. We all have limited time. We don’t know when we’re going to die. We don’t know when our time is up. So we are living using our time in the best way that we think is the best for ourselves. And you can create more of all the other things in the world, but you can’t create more time.

So you can create more money, but you can’t literally create more days. You can use your days more intentionally and increase the value within those days, but you can’t add on days, right? There’s no buying more days or creating more days, you have a finite number of days and you get to decide how you want to use those days.

So if you agree that your brain is what creates time, because without a brain, we have no time. And you agree that your brain and body are more valuable in time. Then it follows that time, is the next most valuable asset that you have because you can’t create more of it. And it follows from that, that investing in your health, your mental health, your brain health, and investing in learning how to manage your time, which is from your mind should be your highest priority.

Again and the reason is because there’s nothing that you can do to create more days. Said differently there’s nothing more important than time management aside from your mental and physical health. You with me. I think so, you know, this is kind of a side note, but when I do research and put things together and outline, I’m always trying to simplify it so that it is really easy to understand, but I want to do that at a really high level for you.

So I hope this is making sense for you. Um, it really has been an epiphany for me in my own life, as I decide more intentionally, how to invest and use and spend my time. So I truly believe that the way you get better at time management is by investing in your brain, right? Because your brain is what interprets time. It’s what makes the decisions of whether to follow through with your calendar.

If anyone ever quits Grow You. And they say that they don’t have time for it. I have this thought of, Oh, no, she’s the one who needs it the most, right? Because what’s happening here is that she’s not seeing that how you manage your time is through your brain. I rarely get emails like that. Most people love and stay in, Grow You for a long time. But those few who leave for the time aspect of it, aren’t seeing that it’s actually managing their mind.

That is what’s going to create the very thing that they want. Okay. We do this in all areas of our life. We don’t see that it’s our beliefs that create our results. So you can take new actions like getting an app or, you know, buying a new planner or some sort of new productivity tool. But if you haven’t changed your brain, if you haven’t created new neural pathways, if you haven’t come up with new thoughts to believe, as it relates to time, then those tools will not work for you.

And you know this, right? I like to say you don’t need another planner. You need a plan. If you think about these concepts through the lens that your beliefs create your results, it makes sense. So if the result that you have in your life is that you’re always rushed and you never enough time. That’s coming from your thoughts about time and the way that you will make better decisions around time is through managing your mind.

So I want you to give yourself a grade so far on how you use your time. So if I asked you, what grade would you give yourself on how you invest your time? Like you’re back in school and you got a grade. What grade would you give yourself? Think about how you spend your time. And it doesn’t mean that you have to give the most time to what is the most valuable.

So if your physical health is really valuable, you want to give it the appropriate amount of time. So I don’t want to spend eight hours a day working out that actually would be counterproductive and wouldn’t be good for my physical health, but my physical health is way up there right next to my mental health in terms of what’s the most valuable. So I want to give it enough time. So I want to make sure that I am working out 45 minutes to an hour and a half every day.

That to me is prioritizing my health. The same is true for my mental health. And those of you in Grow You know this right? You’re doing the work daily and you’re prioritizing your mental health. When you give yourself a grade, I don’t want you to beat yourself up. It’s just a way for you to get really curious and become more introspective. So how are you investing your time?

And you get to decide what’s a good use of your time, and what’s not a good use of your time. No one else gets to decide that for you. But what I see most of the time in my clients is that they’re not necessarily having the awareness that this is what’s going on. They think that it’s the activities that are creating the feeling of rushed or busy-ness, and it’s never your circumstances creating feelings. It’s always your thoughts.

So the first thing we have to do is clean out our brain and self coach, and really get clear on what are the facts and what are my thoughts about the facts. So when I think of ways for me to use my time and how I want to live intentionally and really plan my life and my days, so that I’m creating the results that I want, I believe that investing time and managing my brain is the best use of my time because my brain is more valuable than time. So I can use my brain to increase the value of my time. So let’s say that I come up with an idea for how to outsource more things that I’m currently doing in my life or delegate them. I’ve created that idea that will come to life from my brain. So that was a really good use of my time.

I also think that investing time in planning is the best way to actually manage my time. The reason why planning is so useful and brilliant and essential to your life is because you decide in advance, how you’ll invest your time. So if your brain and body are the most valuable assets that you have, and second to that is time. You can use your brain to make decisions ahead of time for how you’re going to use your time.

And you do this from your prefrontal cortex. So making those decisions ahead of time is how you live at your highest level. It’s how you create a life bigger and greater than you once thought was possible. I do this in my life and I can proudly say that I am in the habit of doing it, but it does take practice. It takes really knowing and truly believing that your brain is always what creates your results.

And I think that the biggest mistake people make with this is they overvalue money. I was just coaching someone who said she didn’t want to spend money on a cleaning service for her home. So for her, she would rather save her money, then save her time. And it’s subtle how this happens. And I see this all the time.

Most people do this and it’s not necessarily a problem that they’re using their time to clean. The problem is that they don’t see, and they don’t have the awareness that that’s what’s happening. So we can get obsessed with saving money and valuing money over time. And so if you think that money is more valuable than time, you will try to save your way to riches, to making millions of dollars. And it takes such a long time to do that.

So if you’re really focused on saving money and spending time, you end up living your life in a way that’s really, really limited. And you won’t live at your highest self and you really miss out on so many opportunities to expand your life and increase your experiences. I think the underlying reason why most people do this is that they don’t believe they can create any amount of money. So if you believe that you create money from your mind, you wouldn’t value money over time. The truth is that you can create money. You can create more money. You cannot create more days and more time.

So time is a more limited resource than money said. Differently. Time is more valuable than money. You might agree with me, but look at your actions and notice if you are always trying to save money and consequently, spend your time doing something that’s not at your highest level. So I always say, do the opposite, spend money to have someone else do the things that you don’t want to do so that you can optimize and increase the value of the time that you have.

So practically what this looks like is delegating and hiring, and really focusing on how you want to use your time and what you can outsource. So I recently hired a personal assistant to come into the home, to do the grocery shopping and laundry, and, you know, ups package drop-offs that I want to have done on a weekly basis. So I’m constantly asking myself what is the best use of my time.

And the best use of my time is not doing these things. It’s not because I can’t do them. Of course I can do them. Right. But I can use my time. I can invest my time in a way that’s so much more valuable than doing these things. And I can create more money if I want. Right. Cause the argument that I hear back is, okay, well you have to have money to be able to do that. Yes, but you create money from your mind. So if you spend money, you can use time to create money, right? And if you get in the cycle of doing this and the habit of doing this and you really see how it can be done, you can use that time, not only to create money, but to spend more time with your family, to see the world, to manage your brain and come up with more ideas to use your time more valuably.

I really, really am passionate about this because for some reason, there’s this cultural norm, I think predominantly in the middle class, that really rewards doing everything yourself to save money. So notice what thoughts you had immediately. After I said that I’m hiring a personal assistant to do the grocery shopping and the laundry and the ups, drop-offs like, write down what thoughts you had about that. And just notice those thoughts and see what results you have in your life, because you think those thoughts.

So if you think that hiring out or spending money to create more time for yourself is bad or wasteful. You create this separation from something that actually is really valuable in creating more time. And I think what’s happening here is it’s confusing the source of money. So money is created by you. It’s not created by your employer. It’s not created by your clients. It’s not created by your boss. It’s created by you.

And fortunately for us, there’s lots of money for everyone and it’s not finite and there’s lots and lots of money and we can all be rich and we can all create more money. So you can create a lot of money and you can have, and keep a lot of money, but you never want to value money more than you value time, right? Why? Again, because time is finite. We don’t know when it’s up for any of us, but money is not.

So I think that the most important time management skills that you can truly adopt for yourself at a really high level, they’re not going to be downloading a new tool and, you know, using a new app, right? Pick a tool. It’ll be fine. What you need to do is you need to invest time and managing your brain. And when you invest in managing your brain, that’s where you invest in planning, right?

For those of you in Grow, You you’re already doing this. Another skill is to spend money to buy time. So I really want to encourage you at whatever income level you’re at to spend some money, to get back some time and we can all do this, no matter what income level we are at. And the reason I want you to practice this is because for a lot of you, it’s going to be really uncomfortable and foreign.

And you’re going to have a lot of thoughts come up because we’ve sort of been socialized to have this norm where doing everything yourself and saving money is, is rewarded and then paying for things to be done and creating more time is sort of frowned upon or seen as bad in some way or wasteful. So I just want you to do this exercise and see what comes up for you.

Like what thoughts do you have about it, right. And what thoughts do you have about other people’s opinions about what you’re doing? So if you have parents or grandparents, maybe from the depression era who have thoughts about your decision to outsource or have help, what are you making that mean about you? Are you letting them be them and are you managing your own mind and still finding that connection, even though their opinion will be different than the opinion that you want to have.

Two other things that I just want to touch on here that are really important for time management. So again, I’m talking about four time management skills, the first one is investing in your brain because the way that time exists is through a mental construct, it’s through your brain. So the way that you manage your time and create a plan is with your brain. So that’s number one.

Number two is to spend some money so that you can create and buy more time three and four. I don’t want to spend a ton of time on here, but I want to mention because they’re really important. I have done other podcasts on them. Number three is decision making. You want to get really good at decision making so that you can make a decision commit a hundred percent fail forward, make another decision and you move and create results so much faster without being in a rush this way.

Instead of what I see a lot of is indecision. I’m not sure I don’t know, is this right before and after the decision is made. So you kind of want to nip that and get really good at decision making as the third really important time management skill.


The fourth time management skill that I want to touch on here is constraint. I have a whole podcast on constraint, go back and listen to it. What I teach is that you want to create a limited amount of options. So Steve and I are wedding planning right now. I am not looking for more suggestions and ideas and hotels and venues. I am thinking at a really high level about the experience that I want to create and looking for just a select few so that I can decide from that, knowing that my brain really will lean towards indecision.

If I give myself too many options. Another thing that I’ve talked about with constraint is learn one, implement one. Another thing is to limit, you know, your wardrobe. Basically, anytime you can limit the amount of decisions you have to make, you get out of decision fatigue, you make it easier for you to live at your highest level and your brain won’t feel so kind of messy and confused.

The more decisions and more options you have, the harder it is. So I try to set my brain up for success. All right. So I hope this episode was a really different spin for you on time management. If you’re in Grow You, if you have questions, come to ask a coach, come to one of the calls and I’ll coach you on this. The goal here is to spend your time more intentionally. It’s not ever that you want to be working all the time or producing all the time.

It’s that you want to know and have the awareness of how you’re really investing your time. Are you overvaluing money compared to time? Are you investing in your brain, which is more valuable than time? Are you investing in managing your time at all? Do you live with a plan? Do you use plans or do you think that they’re limiting your freedom? Just notice your thoughts that come up with time management and working on those thoughts and coaching yourself. That’s really going to be the key to success for how you will improve and get better at time management. All right. That’s what I have for you today. I will talk with you next week.

Hey, if you liked this podcast you really should check out, Grow You, my life coaching program. I coach you on everything I teach on the podcast so that you can uplevel your life. We 10x it so you get the results you want most. Just like a monthly gym membership to get your body in shape, this is a monthly personal development membership to get your mind in shape. It is an investment your future self will thank you for. Check it out at Nataliebacon.com/coaching. That’s Nataliebacon.com/coaching. I will see you there.