Tips to Manage Your Time:
The Ultimate Time Management Toolkit by Risa Williams
Stressful deadlines, mindless distractions, and an ever-growing to-do list. As most of us settle into the “work from home” lifestyle post pandemic, our transition into the “new normal” can make us feel like we have too many mental “‘tabs open” all the time. Whether we are aware of it or not, these mental tabs can trigger feelings of anxiety, burnout, and even, depression. This doesn’t mean that we need more time to finish tasks or a new to-do list to motivate us, but rather, the right tools to help change our perspective of time and find the “fun” in our tasks to ultimately achieve our goals.
Risa Williams, a licensed therapist and coach who specializes in productivity tools, helps readers navigate the root of their stress by tapping into their emotions in the hopes of achieving their goals in her newest book, The Ultimate Time Management Toolkit (JKP Books 2022). In addition to being a writer/therapist, Williams is a busy mother, wife, and professor. Like most women, she juggles multiple careers, maintains a social life, and prioritizes her personal time with her family. While her schedule and to-do list grows exponentially every week, finding a healthy balance between every sector in her life is what inspired Williams to create a time management guide.
One of the key takeaways in her book is when she mentions that the way in which we view time is a reflection of our emotional state. For so long, “people use the quantity of tasks they accomplish each day as a way to evaluate their daily performance.” What we often fail to realize is that “tasks cost us different amounts of mental and physical energy depending on how intense they feel for us to complete.” In order to understand the root of these triggers, Williams provides us an opportunity to organize our tasks through her exercises. In this particular exercise, it requires us to list all of our tasks and rate the intensity from low to high. By rating these tasks one by one, you can visually see which tasks are more likely to use more energy than others. This helps everyone (including myself) become emotionally aware of how and when I want to go toward completing a project without feeling overwhelmed. This exercise is a great way to slowly mend and shift your perspective of time.
In her book, it’s also important to mention how crucial Time Buffers (in other words, breaks) are for clarity. According to Williams, “answers to problems can form in our brains when we actually relax our minds long enough to receive them.” In a lot of creative fields, burnouts occur very often. When you’re constantly swamped with new projects and are unable to cope with the mental and emotional stress, burnout is inevitable. Williams reminds us that “downtown replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.” Planning your schedule and adding time buffers helps us “destress, reset, and let inspiration in.”
This isn’t my first time reading one of Williams’ books. Her previous book, The Ultimate Anxiety Toolkit, was incredibly beneficial to my mental health during the pandemic. Now that we’re adjusting ourselves to post-pandemic lifestyle, the exercises in The Ultimate Time Management Toolkit are an extension of maintaining a healthy mindset. This book has taught me how to keep track of my progress, goals, and mental health. Journaling my way to a healthier mindset has helped me release so many negative thoughts and tension, and encouraged me to give myself a pat on the back more often. It has made me realize that time was never against me, but rather, my relationship with productivity had become broken.
Practicing and taking the time to reflect on each exercise has helped me tremendously and has lifted a huge weight off my mind. Anyone who juggles multiple professions, family life, social life, etc, deserves a moment to themselves to gain clarity and focus with Williams’ new toolkit. Everyone deserves to feel better and protect their mental health no matter what their circumstances may be.
(Book illustrations by Jennifer Whitney)