Because so many of my clients regularly lament that they have so much to do and not enough time to do it in, I went in search of someone who might be able to help. I found Monique Y. Wells, a “time management mentor.” Wells conquered her own overwhelm and decided to teach others how to manage theirs.
“I am sure you have heard the adage, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” I wondered how come this so often proves to be the case. I think that you will find that Wells’ time management suggestions of prioritizing, focus, and avoiding overcommitment help to explain how you can be a busy person and get so much done.
Wells certainly epitomizes a busy, accomplished woman. A veterinary pathologist and toxicologist, she has worked with many of the leading pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetics companies. As she says, “there are few industries where time equals money more than the pharmaceutical industry.” To survive in this world she had to have excellent time management skills. We are lucky that she can share with us some of what she learned the hard way!
Describe your current business and what you are most proud.
I help women solopreneurs and women who work from home “get over overwhelm” so that they can enjoy less stress, more income, greater job satisfaction, and more time to spend with family and friends outside of work – guilt-free! In doing so, I am able to help women surpass their expectations of themselves to better serve their clients, achieve greater financial rewards, and attain new and greater heights as business owners.
Why did you choose your current career and how did you get it started?
In response to the economic downturn that took a great toll on my scientific consulting service, I began training and coaching my colleagues in the preclinical safety arena in time management. After conducting several successful training sessions, I decided to broaden my market base to increase my earning potential. I always conduct a survey among members of my potential market to identify their challenges and prepare products and services to meet their specific needs. I now work with women solopreneurs and women who work from home because I am one of them and can completely understand the problems and desires that this group of business owners experiences.
What is your favorite “Mojo Mantra”?
“Achieve more by doing less.” Adopting this philosophy is what helped me pull out of a deep state of overwhelm in my businesses.
You are a very self-driven individual who values productivity; what practices helped you increase your productivity the most?
The most important things that I have done to increase my productivity are 1) to keep my business goals uppermost in my mind and 2) to eliminate / say “no” to all activities that do not directly contribute to achieving these goals. As an “over-achiever,” my “overwhelm” stemmed from trying to do too many things that were only tangentially related to my business goals. I would do things because I could do them, not because I should do them. Anyone operating with this philosophy eventually digs a hole for herself that is so deep that she risks not being able to escape!
Time management is such a critical issue for so many people struggling to get their mojo. What are your 3 top time management strategies?
1) Learn to prioritize effectively. This means making smart choices about the projects that you take on, the tasks that you perform every day, and the training that you undertake to increase your knowledge and proficiency. Remember the Pareto Principle – 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions, so completing only one or two tasks in a given day can yield incredible results, provided that you choose them wisely!
2) Improve your focus on the task at hand. Remember that it is not enough to effectively prioritize your projects and tasks – you must complete them as well! This means breaking down each project into its various tasks and breaking each task into manageable parts. Allot a specific amount of time on a given day for each part and commit to finishing each part in the time allotted. I call these time slots “focus sessions.”
I teach my clients to prepare for these sessions. This means doing what is necessary so that neither internal (ex. hunger, fatigue) nor external distractions (ex: e-mail, phone calls) break your concentration during the session. Each person gets to know the optimal amount of time for her to schedule for a given task, and learns that this period of time may differ from task to task. A rhythm is soon established and the work flows more easily as a result.
3) Avoid overcommitment. Overcommitting yourself – even if that overcommitment is self-imposed – is a surefire way to rapidly cross into the realm of overwhelm. Overwhelm causes stress, frustration, inefficiency, and eventually, psychological paralysis. It can lead to health problems as well, so it is not to be trifled with!
Learn to say “no” to whatever the latest “bright, shiny object” is that presents itself to you if it is not aligned with your business goals. Even if it is aligned with your goals, look at your current commitments to determine whether you have time to take on the new project. If the opportunity is one that is too good to pass up, look at what you will eliminate, postpone, or outsource in order to accept it. If you have trouble saying “no” to others, learn to stall for time until you are able to consult your agenda or to think of a nice way to refuse the request or offer.
Let us know what you think about these time management strategies. Are there things that you should be saying “no” to? Are there things that you need to make a higher priority? Are you giving focus to the things that are most important to you?
Looking for some resources on Time Management?
Check out Monique Y. Wells time management program at http://gettingoveroverwhelm.com.
Check out the Time Management Shelf in the Leader’s Library. Monique has added Time Junkie by Andrea Feinberg and Step Aside Super Woman by Christine Brown-Quinn to the shelf that she recommends. (Don’t forget that the affiliate money earned from any books purchased from our Leader’s Library is donated to Better World Books!)
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. An MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.