We are the change

Why time isn’t the problem & time management isn’t the solution

Time is the one luxury that once spent we can never regain. So why is it the one thing we all profoundly struggle with?

As business owners, our relationship with time can have a profound impact not just on our business success but on ourselves. Coaching guru Tony Robbins states that our success is 20% skills and 80% psychology and if you’ve ever felt derailed by procrastination, lack of belief or lack of mojo then you’ll know where he’s coming from. It’s not your skills that are preventing you from doing your best work, it’s what’s happening from the neck up.

So what does that have to do with time? Well, our relationship with time creates a self-fulfilling cycle that can be either positive or negative. How we feel about time impacts how we use it, which in turn feeds how we feel about it even more. If we feel that there is never enough time to do all we need to get done, we rush which makes us feel more stressed, more annoyed and which actually limits our productivity and effectiveness even further.

Think about the last day you spent that way. How strongly where you reinforcing to yourself just how little time there is? On the flip side, remember the last time you had a day when everything worked? When you got so much done, it felt effortless and you actually enjoyed yourself? It’s not hard to see how the way you feel about time can scupper your efforts before you’ve even begun.

Investing time instead of managing it

Time is elastic and better still, we can determine just how elastic it is. Sounds like a strange concept right? Think about it though, how we experience time is subjective. It flies when we’re having fun and drags when we’re not, yet we’re inhabiting the same ‘time’ as everyone else, so what makes them feel so different? And more importantly, how can we create a relationship with time that’s less focused on managing it – which makes it seem fleeting and scarce – to investing it – which inspires potential and possibility instead.


1. Making excuses

We all have exactly the same hours and minutes in the day as everyone else, we simply fill it differently. You get to use your day however you choose to. ‘Choose’ is the operative word here. If there is something you’re not doing, stop making excuses for why and instead, examine why it’s a struggle. Maybe you need to find a new way to look at it, get someone else to take it over for you or even let it go altogether. Swap your ‘shoulds’ for ‘choices’ and move on. Time loves action.

2. Comparing yourself to others

Dwelling on how others are doing a better job than you is a sure way to sink your motivation and erode your confidence. Instead, accept that everyone has their own niche, message or journey and if you notice similar thought patterns appearing, get some guidance. Immerse yourself in inspiration to stay centred, connect to your ‘why’ daily to fire your energy, find a mentor to stay focused on achieving your dream or switch envy of others for role modelling those things about them you aspire to.

3. Squeezing too much in

Life is a marathon but our daily lives often require a pace more akin to a sprint. You may not be able to change the pace but you can stop between sprints to catch your breath and refuel. Instead of booking commitments back to back, allow buffer time between them (and no – travel time doesn’t count). You’ll arrive at your next appointment calm and ready to give it your full attention. Stop meetings from meandering by being prepared ahead of time , stay clear and focused during them and you’ll not only get more done, you’ll feel more on top of your game.


1. Focusing on achievement and enjoyment

Studies have proven that when we’re happy our productivity increases by 31% which is why enjoyment is such an essential part of our day. Achievement – that ticking of boxes as you work through your to-do list, win new business, launch new products and complete projects does give us a sense of satisfaction and visible proof that our business is moving forward. Enjoyment though, is what keeps that satisfaction going throughout the journey. It keeps us engaged and enthusiastic and helps to build our resilience so we can keep functioning when things get tougher. It also means we’re bringing our very best selves to work.

2. Taking regular breaks

Have you noticed how sometimes the harder you work on something the more it feels like you’re walking in mud? To get the most out of your mental and emotional capacity, you need to keep your mind sharp and your energy levels high. Taking regular breaks that allow you to move, refuel or turn your attention to something else briefly, is all it takes. Most of us can only focus for 90 minutes before our mind starts wandering, sabotaging our attempts to stick with something. Rather than fighting it, walk away and come back to it with a fresh perspective.

3. Valuing your time

There’s a lot to do as a business owner. The mix of what it takes to build and grow a business alongside actually delivering to clients can be overwhelming. If we’ve come from a career in someone else’s business, working out how and where to best spend your time (for your own nourishment and that of the business) can come as a shock. The places you spend your time in, the people you spend it with, and the things you spend your time on can be a great investment, a distraction or – at worst – a derailer. To know which things fall into which categories, you need to get clear about the 3 big priorities in your business.

Mine are; delivering excellent service and thought leadership to my clients, building my pipeline of work and raising my profile. When you know – and can keep top of mind – the 3 priorities that will build your dream, craft your ideal week around it. How much time do you need each day to do your 3 priorities justice?  When will breaks for inspiration or connection work best for you?

My Experience

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I transitioned from full-time, fast paced corporate career to business owner was racing through my day with a ‘to-do’ list of activity and a diary full of commitments. My heart sank as I realised the business I’d waited 10 years to launch was suddenly a job. Not only had I switched my reliable salary for the stress and uncertainty of entrepreneurship, I’d brought all of my corporate thinking with me. The tips I’ve shared above helped me shake off my corporate mindset and embrace a new way of working with time that allows me to do more than I ever thought possible while genuinely enjoying the journey. I hope they help you too!

If you have tried and tested tips that keep your relationship with time full of potential and possibility, share them with us below, we’d love to hear!

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kansasphoto/8160941714

* You may also enjoy my 5 part series on ‘how to find the perfect fit for your business and lifestyle’ – which you can start here!

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  1. Lisa Mcloughlin says

    Thanks for this great article. As I reach the end of my first year post NHS work, I realise that I fill every moment with ‘work related’ business stuff and need to boundary my life more to value importance of personal time away from work. Dome very handy pointers here :))

    1. Teresa Mitrovic says

      Hi Lisa, I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Sometimes we assume that by throwing ourselves into something we’re giving it our best shot, but the outcomes depend more on the intensity and focus we give than the time. It can be a hard habit to break but when you take regular breaks and make sure you’re making time for fun you have more energy to fuel that intensity and focus. Good luck! T x

  2. Crystal says

    Teresa, thanks for a great article. On reflection I discover that I have a negative relationship with time hence the impatience and stress. The solution- written affirmation and positive self talk.
    I am also beginning to plan my day the night before so I have focus on what I should be doing and when. Bottom line – what is going on “neck up” has to change and no better time that now right before the start of a new year. 🙂

    1. Teresa Mitrovic says

      Hi Crystal, thank you for your kind words! My relationship with time used to be terrible too – I was so busy, very impatient and always felt there was never enough time, or enough of me to go around (something I see all around me too!). I’m still not perfect – I only get it right 80% of the time, but I’ve achieved so much more and feel so much more relaxed that that’s close enough for me! I love that you’re going to be working on this before the new year – best of luck! T x

  3. Pau says

    Thank you Teresa for an inspired post. I am quite new to self-employment and have been learning about time “management” the hard way. I noticed I easily stressed myself out and tended to rush through things in an attempt to try to do as much as possible. Then I remembered something that a coach once taught me – the importance of relaxation and learning to STOP AND BREATHE when feeling anxious or stressed. I have a much more loving relationship with time and my projects now.

    I also have learned to tell the difference between needing a break or simply having resistance against something. Using a chain calendar has helped me a lot in overcoming resistance and being more consistent with exercising every day, which does so much for my well-being and productivity.

  4. Teresa Mitrovic says

    Hi Pau, thanks for contributing! There is a big difference between needing a break and having resistance and knowing the difference is part of the journey of becoming truly effective. We’re encouraged to push on and to do as much as we can when the reality is that our best work isn’t done when we’re feeling stressed. Our success often comes down to choosing what we spend our time on well, being consistent and allowing ourselves time to switch gears so we can stay recharged, relevant and engaged in our work. Good luck with your journey! T x