Counseling and Neurofeedback
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Board-Certifed in Neurofeedback

You Have 99 Problems, But Time Isn’t One of Them

My client Kathleen, a working mom, had a surprisingly common complaint: “There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do.”Finding-Time

It’s true that she was juggling a lot – her job as an architect, a busy pre-teen, a volunteer position, and an active family life. But none of these were the real problem.

The thing is, we don’t have time problems. We have problems with work, parenting, overwhelm, boredom, distraction, procrastination and perfectionism. Here’s what I mean…

Work

  • You bring work home
  • You bring personal stuff to work
  • You rush
  • You skip lunch
  • You stay late
  • You work until midnight
  • You work on weekends
  • You multitask
  • Your desk is cluttered
  • Your meetings meander
  • You don’t delegate
  • You can’t decide

Parenting

  • You worry
  • You nag
  • You threaten
  • You coax
  • You lose it
  • You have infinite patience
  • You worry about your kids
  • You wonder they have friends
  • You wonder if they’ll go to a good college
  • You wonder if you’re doing a good job
  • You wonder how much therapy they’ll need

Relationships

  • You complain
  • You ruminate
  • You try to make it perfect
  • You can’t say no to your kids
  • You can’t say no to your partner
  • You can’t say no to your boss
  • You can’t say no to your family
  • You do say no, but you feel guilty
  • You argue
  • You avoiding arguing
  • You avoid conversations
  • You avoid relationships

Overwhelm

  • You agree to take your kids to the park
  • You agree to make brownies for the PTA
  • You agree to help your friend shop
  • You agree to help your neighbor get organized
  • You agree to work late
  • Your partner is mad
  • You agree to come home early
  • Your boss is mad
  • You check out
  • You make a list
  • You make a list to keep track of your lists
  • You take on too much
  • You get stuck
  • You feel exhausted
  • You stare at the piles
  • You shut the door
  • You leave the house
  • You take a nap

Boredom

  • You write a text
  • You plan a vacation
  • You plan a party
  • You imagine a promotion
  • You imagine retiring
  • You imagine winning the lottery
  • You look out the window
  • You watch a cat video
  • You shop for purses (you don’t need a purse)
  • You take a selfie
  • You organize your desk
  • You make a bucket list
  • You play Sudoku

Distraction

  • You check your email
  • You check your texts
  • You check your chat
  • You look for your pencil
  • You take a “web surfing” break
  • You check your email
  • You pet the cat
  • You let the dog out
  • You answer the phone
  • You answer a “quick” question
  • You check your email
  • You turn on the news
  • You check Facebook
  • You have a snack
  • You check your email

Procrastination

  • You plan
  • You get ready
  • You worry
  • You decide you have a “block”
  • You remember to meditate
  • You check on your kids
  • You make some tea
  • You organize your desk
  • You plan a party
  • You stress about deadlines
  • You cram for exams
  • You work all night

Perfectionism

  • It’s never perfect enough
  • You can’t let go
  • You can’t delegate
  • You worry about failure
  • You stress about getting a B+
  • You ruminate

Here’s what I want you to understand. These problems aren’t about “managing time”. Sure, there are probably a few things you could do to help you be more efficient, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The real problem is with how you think about your work, your relationships, and yourself. We all have the same 7 days, 168 hours a week. No one gets a head start or a bonus.

It’s not about time. It’s about choices. Tiny, moment-to-moment choices.

The solution is to be intentional.

If you don’t make thoughtful choices, others will make them for you. Your boss. Your partner. Your kids. It’s not that they don’t care about your well-being. They do. It’s just that they too have wants and needs…so why not ask for your help?

You can’t work every evening and have a rewarding relationship. You can’t skimp on sleep and have the energy to take on a demanding job and two toddlers, day after day.

A simple strategy

Here’s one thing you can do to be more intentional as you go through your day. When someone asks you to change your plans in any way, however small, answer with “Let me think about it. I’ll get back to you in an hour.”

When Kathleen started to do this, she gained clarity. She started to say things like,

  • “I won’t be able to finish that by the end of the day, but I’ll be on it first thing tomorrow morning.”
  • “Two weeks is a bit longer than I’d like to vacation this year; how about 10 days?”
  • “I’d like to work on this for another hour, and then let’s have a cup of tea and chat.”

You might have problems with work, parenting, overwhelm, boredom, distraction, procrastination, or perfectionism…but you don’t have a problem with time.

The root of it all is being clear about your intention. When you’re clear, you start to get that every activity is a choice.

Like Kathleen, as you can start to recognize the small choices you make every day, you begin to change your relationship with time.

Pause, and give yourself room to choose.