Managing Time As An Adult With CF
Recently, I was talking to my sister about her three kids starting school again. In addition to the new school year, we talked about how the oldest is going to have to start managing her time differently than before. And it reminded me of when I was about my niece’s age and how I struggled with time management. I remember being a new teenager struggling to figure out how to juggle school, sports, homework, and church.
Back in the late 90s and early 00s the internet wasn’t what it was like today. For example, we did have Google, but not too many people knew how to work the internet. It wasn't as easy to find answers when you had a question. If I had questions, I would try to figure it out on my own. And if that didn't work, I would ask my parents for help.
One of the things my parents taught me was about time management. I learned about blocking out distractions, scheduling literally everything, and doing a time audit. The skills I learned as a teenager in the late 90s are skills I still use. For example, as an adult with cystic fibrosis (CF) I need to juggling doctor appointments, treatments, and medications, which all require good time management!
What is time management?
Have you ever heard the saying, “Work smarter, not harder”? Because that’s what time management is. It is working smarter, not necessarily harder.
For example, I know someone who works out in the morning, but she doesn’t exactly enjoy it. Unfortunately, that is the only time of day where she can work on being strong and healthy due to her very busy schedule.
One way that she manages her time well in the morning is by setting aside everything she will need for her work out the night before. By doing this, she isn’t wasting time in the morning trying to find her gym shorts or tennis shoes. Everything is ready to go. She has managed her time well because there is little to no wasted time looking for clothes or shoes.
How do you improve time management?
There are different ways to improve your time management skills. Additionally, improving your time management can reduce stress and increase productivity:1
Set weekly priorities
Make a list of tasks that require immediate attention and create a list at the end of your day for what the next days goals are. For example, if you need to pick up medicines on Wednesday, write that down. This frees up mental space and helps you keep an organized plan of what the week holds.
Time block your schedule
What is time blocking? It is a way to divide your day into blocks of time and each block is dedicated to specific tasks. This will allow you to start your day with a schedule of things to do and when do to them. Time blocking helps to minimize distractions and keep you on task.2
Set SMART goals
When setting goals, ask these five questions:3
- Specific: What is that I want to accomplish?
- Measurable: How will I know when this goal is accomplished?
- Achievable: Based on my resources, how realistic is this goal?
- Relevant: Does this align with my overall priorities?
- Timely: What is my target date?
Prioritize your time
Identify the best part of your days. For example, if you are more creative and motivated in the morning, prioritize that time for your goals. If you are a night owl, make sure that you have prioritized time in the evening to achieve your goal.
Is your goal one that involves other people? Or can you ask people to help you in achieving your goal? Be sure to involve them! Trying to do everything will only cause stress and lower your productivity.
Take regular breaks
Taking breaks is essential to increasing the productivity of your day. For example, you can outside for few minutes, talk to a loved one, or just stand up and stretch.
Multitasking is often seen as a positive skill to have, but it often ends up decreasing productivity. When you focus on one task at a time, productivity increases greatly.
Make your meetings productive
If your goal involves other people, some ways to increase time management is by making your meetings more productive. This can be accomplished by assigning meeting roles, ending each meeting with a clear goal to meet before the next meeting, and making sure that time is respected with a timekeeper.
Becoming an expert at managing your time won’t happen over-night. It takes practice, learning, and re-evaluating to see what works for you. Experiment with different time management techniques until you find one that works best for you.
Learning how to manage my time is a life skill that I still use today. Managing my time is crucial to keeping me on track. It is impossible to remember all of my doctor appointments, my medications, my treatments, and the everyday parts of being an adult with CF without managing my time. I don’t always do it well, for example, just the other day I had to reevaluate and adjust some things. But the basics have stuck with me for over 20 years. It is my hope that this article offers you valuable information if you are wanting to learn how to manage your time better!
Have you taken our Cystic Fibrosis In America Survey yet?