How to Beat the Clock: Five Pro Tips from Top Life/Work Coaches

At the end of the day, do you feel like you’ve barely touched your to-do list? Where does the time go? We spoke to three Canadian life/work coaches who argue that we have more time than we think. It’s just a matter of adopting a few good habits.

1. Set your own goals

“One of the biggest obstacles to using time effectively is having to deal with the crisis of the hour. Whatever you do, don’t arrive at the office and jump on e-mail. Take 30 seconds for three deep breaths. Think of your highest priorities for the day and make sure to set time aside in your schedule to get those done. The key is to start with yourself before opening up to other people’s agendas.”

– Dr. Joe Flanders

2. Make a list

“Most people who feel overwhelmed hold way too much in their head. Your brain isn’t a storage bin for the short term. It’s meant to think creatively and productively. Writing down your tasks relieves that feeling of chaos. Develop a system and a ritual – I personally have three lists that funnel into each other: a monthly, a weekly and a daily to-do list. I ritually update them every night and add to them all day as things pop into mind. Being organized gives the brain a gasp of relief and releases a calming hormone that feels like a miniature vacation.”

– Eileen Chadnick

3. Eat mindfully

“Gandhi said, ‘I have so much to accomplish today that I have to meditate for two hours instead of one.’ When you meditate, you reconnect with your sense of intentionality, strategy and priority. While not everyone has the training or inclination to meditate for 30 minutes, eating mindfully can approximate some of those benefits. Try eating without using technology. Instead, bring your attention to the food and the experience of eating. It’s a great way to practise mindfulness in the middle of your workday.”

– Dr. Joe Flanders

4. Move your body

“It’s not about managing your time – it’s about managing your energy. Figure out the things that energize you and make room for them in your day. One key is to be physically embodied. If you’re just operating from your head up, it leads to anxiety and overwhelm. When you’re sitting at your desk, notice your body, your arms, your legs, your jaw, your toes. Stretch. Start focusing on your breath. If you can, take a walk. Even 10 minutes outside getting fresh air before a meeting will fill your whole being with new energy.”

– Julie Cusmariu

5. Take a day off

“Today’s workplace motto is ‘all in,’ but I don’t think it’s doing anyone any good. It’s not working for you, right? Go out on a limb, take the day off and see what happens! Challenge yourself to take this break – it may be out of your comfort zone, but it means giving yourself room to thrive. You’ll come back to work and be more productive, and have better solutions and better ideas because you’re tapping into your inner creativity. When you pause, you create space within, and that’s when new solutions and new perspectives drop in. Taking time out feeds your creative well.”

– Julie Cusmariu

Our experts:

Dr. Joe Flanders is a psychologist, assistant professor at McGill University, and founder of MindSpace, a centre dedicated to mindful living.

Eileen Chadnick is a work/life coach and principal at Big Cheese Coaching whose book Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of “Crazy Busy” is packed with tips about making the most of every minute.

Julie Cusmariu is a certified life coach and intuitive consultant for whom the importance of listening to oneself when managing time can’t be overstressed.