Independent Thinking: Time Management for Women

August 21, 2012

Small Law Independent ThinkingI am really over women telling women who are younger than I am (and since I am 60 that covers a lot of women) that “You can’t have it all” or the new variation, “You can have it all, but you can only have it one thing at a time.”

These damning messages disguised as the ultimate “time management” advice encourages women to knock themselves off their “to do” list. Once we put ourselves last, it is easy to lead us to put ourselves last tomorrow, this month, this year, this decade, this “season” of our lives.

I remind myself and other women “You can have everything you need and want. There’s only one tricky part – you have to be willing to put yourself first in your life.”

Before you say, “Oh, that’s all very well and good for you, but you don’t have my life.”  Yep. I don’t. I have my life – which is pretty full.

As I write this, I have a very successful trial consulting business with never less than 20 cases in trial all over the country, have lots of national seminars and speaking engagements on my calendar, writing a book, developing a series of new educational classes for lawyers, appearing in one show as an actress, have another I have written being produced, writing another new show, am blessed with a local family and since the hot water heater exploded all over the home office I am in the midst of a remodel of what I sometimes think of as the most important room of the house since that’s where the money comes in and goes out.

How do I do it?

It is simple, but not easy.

I am an early riser, no matter what time zone I am in. Simply, I put myself first immediately. My day starts with the sun rising and me waking up and saying, “No, not work or them first, Katherine first.” That means one hour a day of exercise.  Walking is my exercise of choice with some stretching. I then have some replenishing inspirational time.  Breakfast? You bet.  I’m a vegan, I take lots of supplements which I get from my acupuncturist and I don’t cut corners either in good food nor supplements when I am on the road. Then I write. No – not the book for my business nor this blog. But one of my shows as a playwright.

Then off to work.

When looking at the long “to do” list for the week or the month that I haven’t delegated to others I only put on today’s list what I can comfortably achieve today. This allows me to pat myself on the back every day and say, “You did it all, well done!” By the end of the week, if there is an item that is still on this week’s list I look at it and decide whether it can be delegated or eliminated from my own personal “to do” list. If it absolutely needs to stay, then I look at it, smile, and make a commitment to it for “some time next week.”

Do I do this perfectly every day? No. But I strive for it and am able to make this “routine” the norm rather than the exception most of the time.

So different from before…

When I was putting everyone else in my life first I never managed to fit in time to exercise, meditate or get my teeth cleaned. I never made an appointment with my manicurist nor my hairdresser further ahead than this afternoon.  The clients and cases (always with me) would be on my mind as soon as I woke up – all my thinking time went to them. I could never write that book or create those products. My theatre writing got postponed and postponed and postponed. Family needs pushed any lingering thoughts of what I might need away. Never had TIME for me.

Sound familiar?

What finally got me to put myself first?  A great advisor, a great therapist, and a great 12-Step Program (Al Anon – yep, some of us put others first pathologically).

The Result?

I am a better trial consultant, theatre artist, and family member because I am first. But the best part is…I feel great. The wonderful writer, Bonnie Friedman brilliantly voices how I feel:  “An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth.”