EP 76 // Time Awareness

Ep 76

Do you feel stressed, busy, and short on time? If so, it's time to get a handle on what you do and when you do it. Here, Akua expands on last week's episode, cultivating self-awareness and presenting your personality in the form of SOPs to team members. This week, Akua focuses specifically on how to be more time-aware as a conscious leader and how it can help you move from fire-fighting mode into strategic leadership.

Find out what questions to ask yourself and how to reflect on your time management to become more productive, prioritize better, and protect one of your most precious commodities - your time!

Akua walks you through the steps she uses to do a time audit, not just to find out what you do and when, but how you feel during those times. This helps prioritize different tasks depending on the time of day or even the day of the week.

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What's Covered in this Episode About Time Management

  • Knowing your own personality isn't complete unless you understand your relationship with time.
  • How leaders spend their time is a true indicator of what is truly valued; because everyone is different, they will prioritize their time differently.
  • Akua gives a valuable list of questions to ask yourself about your own personality and how it relates to time management and productivity.
  • Learn how to create boundaries around your time in order for your team members to best utilize you 

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "Where your time goes shows what you value and truly are willing to commit to." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Knowing your personality or operating system will actually help you use your time better." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "The most profitable and productive thing that you can do is learn about yourself and then share that with others, because ultimately, no one else is you." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in Time Awareness

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

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Here’s the transcript for episode 76 about Time Awareness

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 where your time goes shows what you value and truly are willing to commit to? Do you know where your time goes? This is gonna sound a little violent, but I think it's important to go there. No one and I mean, no one is holding a gun to your head as you walk through your day. Why do you do what you're doing when you're doing them? Because you have to? Because you should, because that's what everyone does. What I'd really love for you to do while listening to today's episode is get curious about how you decide and when you decide to do what you do. Hello, and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else to get more God. Let's tune into this week's episode. Welcome back to the open door conversations podcast. In my last solo episode, I talked through personality or as I like to refer to it my operating system. But I left out one key element, I didn't really touch on your relationship with time, please make sure you listen to the initial episode about being a conscious leader. And the next episodes where I touch upon these different elements because each episode is adding a layer to this conversation on how to show up and really be an effective and strategic or as I like to refer to it conscious leader. I have several episodes around time and productivity, and also prioritisation, I will make sure I link those in the show notes. But today, I wanted to do something a little different. And I also wanted to make sure that I wrapped up that conversation around SOPs, or standard operating procedures as it relates to your personality or your iOS operating system. This episode is going to be helpful if you're saying things like I feel overwhelmed, I feel stressed. I feel like things keep changing. And I'm not able to keep up. I have so many deadlines, and I'm not sure when things need to happen. I feel super busy, right? I feel like I have less time and I don't necessarily have the resources to get things done. This episode about time or awareness is really going to be impactful. And so I wanted to start off by sharing a little bit about my story about my experience about my relationship with time. I've always, for the most part been someone who's had quite strict boundaries around my time. And I've always gotten a lot of pushback, and sometimes anger from people who feel like I should bend or I should open myself up to doing things that they want me to do. So as I go through and share some thoughts around time awareness and increasing your time awareness. I think the first thing I just want to share is not everyone is going to agree with how you spend your time. And that's because no one else has the same values as you and not everyone is going to be willing to commit to the things that you are committing to and when I reflect on my relationship with time, especially as it relates to working within a full time environment, I always would value my health I always would value Eating and sleeping. And that wasn't something that always seemed to work well with some of the cultures I found myself in. And that's actually one of the reasons why I enjoy working for myself because I no longer have to justify or explain why I'm sleeping or why I spend time working out why it's important to eat, because those are just things that for the most part are non negotiables, for me, and I spend a lot of time doing those things. And I know that because I audit my time. And we'll get to that a little bit later in the episode, another elements and once again, I'm going to share a little reflection, a little story in relation to myself is knowing your personality or operating system will actually help you use your time better. And of course, the word better is really relative, just like success is really relative, just like productivity is also very relative. One of the resources, I'll share in the show notes, I'm sure we'll go over how productivity really is a feeling. But knowing whether or not you're introverted or extroverted, knowing, you know, when you feel most productive, or where you when you feel like you can solve challenging or more complex problems will help you set up your time and help you come up with better boundaries. An example that I can think of, and this is something that I continue to use moving forward is knowing that I need time to recuperate, I can be around other people, but I have more introverted tendencies in that I don't need other people to recharge, if anything, I do better on my own. And so knowing that about myself means that I make sure I put buffers in my schedule. And I don't put things back to back. I don't think any leadership anything back to back in their calendar. But I know for me, it's incredibly important that I have time to decompress, I have time to process especially if I had a really deep and emotional coaching session with someone. And so knowing this about myself means that I can set myself up for success with how I use my time, right and structure my schedule. Another element I put on here that I wanted to speak to or share my perspective on, or a bit of my experience on is this idea of being busy, I might have a resource out there or blog post, or I'm sure I have a social media post around this. But for some people saying that you're busy, is really difficult for them to take because from their perspective, right, they feel like what they need to have happen or what they need you for it's urgent, it's an emergency. And you should obviously be able to see that whether or not they give you an explanation or whether or not they're able to align it with your priorities. I personally don't really like the word busy, I will use it sometimes. But the long and short of it is that I'm aware of my priorities. And if someone comes to me and wants me to do something for them, especially if I'm not going to be paid for it, that doesn't align with my priorities. That's not to say I don't create space for it, or I don't have space for it, it just might not be when they want it to happen. And so recognising that as you put more boundaries up or understand how you should be using your time and ultimately, energy, right, I think that's actually a better unit to use. But maybe it's a bit harder. For those of you who are starting on this time awareness journey. That's something that you should keep in mind. You know, as I mentioned before, not everyone's going to agree with you. And so recognising that it's not necessarily that you're busy or doing something rest is also important. And I'll sometimes get people asking me to just squeeze them in when I know that I need to take time to recharge, or I know that I need to make sure I have space to be able to eat another element here. And I sort of alluded to this earlier on as it relates to what I value is, I sometimes get questioned and used to get questioned about how I spend time on my health, why I spend time working out and as I mentioned before, it's something I value so I make space for it. And I try to honour that as much as possible. Another thing that comes up when I think about my time awareness or my relationship with time, or how I've evolved is how now I'll just share my calendar and my calendar is updated to show when I'm willing and typically when I have the energy to have specific types of conversations, I don't just open up my calendar, I won't just open up my week to give everyone access. And I don't think any conscious leader should because that will make you overwhelmed and you'll end up firefighting because you'll feel like you'll have to catch up on things that might not be a priority that might not help you to get to where you want to go. So really just recognising that that's something that might also happen for you as you get More boundaries. And as you get more comfortable telling people No, and using other tools to help you manage your time and your energy, the last thing I just wanted to share in relation to my experience, and as I reflect on my relationship with time, is also how I like to sometimes do themed days. It doesn't work out so much now these days, but when I was working full time, I would do certain work on certain days of the week, because I felt like I had the right amount of energy to do them. So for example, on Mondays and Tuesdays, I tend to like to create content, I tend to record this podcast even though I typically want to do it earlier, it ends up being on Tuesdays, because that tends to make the most sense for me energetically. And that's typically also when I've set aside time for it in my calendar as well. So those are all things that you can learn about yourself, right, by learning more about your personality, your operating system, your energy levels. And I'm going to talk a little bit about this later on in the episode, but also by doing a time audit to learn more about your patterns. And we talked a bit about your patterns, and how important it is for you to recognise that those patterns can evolve based on where you are in your life, and where you are professionally and personally. And that's that time audit piece. Before we get to the time audit, I did want to go back to talking a bit about the SOPs or the standard operating procedures. As I mentioned in my previous episode, there's a tool that I use with my clients and I wanted to share some additional key elements or questions that might be helpful to reflect on. And what will happen is we'll break them down even further, as I start to talk about the time audit, which I promise you is super simple. But it's not something that everyone necessarily wants to do. So the first thing you probably want to include in your SOP and you'll probably want to share with other people, other stakeholders, your team members, your co founders, anyone who's looking to work with you is the times and hours I like to work. And some of the key questions that you might want to ask yourself here is when do you feel most productive? Okay, when do you prefer to have meetings? I know, for example, I tend to prefer to have external meetings. So meetings that don't have to do with building my business, but more of business development, coaching workshops, and speaking, I prefer to do them after I've had two meals. So that tends to be the afternoon. Okay. Another question that you can ask is, when do you prefer doing teamwork and engaging with others? And that's something that I've learned about myself as well. I know that once again, I prefer doing teamwork and working with others in the afternoon, because I like to do my focus work and things that I can only do in the morning, when do you prefer to work alone? When would you like people to have access to? So for a lot of leaders, this is really a key question, when would you like people to have access to you, because as a leader, as you become more strategic, as you're working on more long term things, you want to make sure that you are creating space for people to have access to you, but they can't have full access to you. Because a lot of your work will be reflecting and protecting time to reflect on what you want to do next and what you want to do differently. So asking yourself that question, and making sure that your schedule or calendar, whatever you use, to manage people having meetings with you will have to reflect what you've learned about yourself and what makes sense in terms of what you're doing day to day. So that's really that first element that I'd recommend that you add to your SOP, the times and hours I like to work. The second element that I'd recommend that you add to your SOP and that will be further, I would say further defined or further details will be added based on your time audit is logistics, meetings and availability. We already referred a bit to availability or access, when would you like people to have access to you but that availability piece and access I think go hand in hand. So the questions you can ask yourself here are how do you like to stay in sync with your reports, your direct reports or your colleagues? How would you like to engage with them? How would you like to communicate with them? How often? What's your preference? You know, to have one on one meetings? When would you like those? How often would you like those? Would you prefer people to contact you via chat and person email, if something needs to be escalated? What would that look like? Do you have a process for that? Have you share that with your team? What's your availability outside of working hours? How can people access you if there's an emergency? Okay? Do you prefer people to select the time to engage with you? So that's a big one for me there in terms of availability, that's something I learned the hard way. And I learned through being very frustrated, working full time within an office because I was physically there people felt like they could just come up to me and talk to me. And that was something that was very disruptive. And so what I started to do was have a calendar and have people so that times to talk to me. And then I took it a step further, I said, I'd only have certain conversations. Of course, if it wasn't emergency, I would have the conversation. But if it wasn't an emergency, right, and I had a sort of an eye, like a checklist people could walk through to see whether or not it was an emergency, there were certain types of chats or conversations I'd have on certain days. Like one of the things I remember is that I would have conversations about HR on Wednesdays, that's something that I used to do. I don't know how well I kept that up. But that's something that I did try to institute. So those are just two additional elements to addition, additional overall questions that you can add to your SOP that I think once again, will be helpful for you to know and for you to communicate to others, as I always say, the most profitable and productive thing that you can do is learn about yourself and then share that with others, because ultimately, no one else is you. Okay, so let's get into that next step. This next element that I think leaders, especially conscious leaders should do to make sure they are Time Aware, they are aware of where their time is going. And ultimately, as I mentioned before, time, energy, where that's going how things make them feel, the patterns that tend to show up, and where they choose to focus their time and energy each day, right? What they do, and when they do it, as I refer to in the introduction, so a time on it is super simple. That's simply just keeping track of where your time goes, and how you feel doing them. Two simple key components, you can use software to do this, I wouldn't recommend software, but you can use software, you can print out a document, that's what I would recommend, you can use a simple Excel spreadsheet, if there's anything you'll learn about me is I don't typically like to push specific types of software, because I think everyone needs to decide for themselves. Personally, I like doing it on pen and paper, because it's a really great way for me to also reflect as I do it. And even though of course, it is a bit of a disruption to write it down, it's really helpful. And as you do this, you probably will find yourself self correcting in many ways. So I typically recommend that you do a time audit for at least a week. And even if you can't do it for a week, a few days within a week can really help you get some insight and really build your awareness around where your time is going. Because I promise you, you will be surprised by where you're actually spending your time. A huge part of this is also recognising that you can't work the full eight hours, it's not good for you, I think research shows that we can actually sit and concentrate for like 45 minutes to an hour max. And even then they suggest small breaks, or at least breaks where you look away from what you're doing every so often. So we are not designed, we are not robots. So we are not designed for eight hours. So as you do this, or if you decide to do a time audit, please give yourself some grace, practice some self compassion, and remind yourself you are not a robot and no one's expecting you to work for eight hours straight. Okay, no one's even suggesting that you work for three or two hours straight. The idea is that you just want to get a better sense of where your time is going, and how you feel about the tasks that you are completing within that time period. The reason why a time audit is necessary. And I don't recommend that you just go back and you look at your schedule or your planner is that usually our schedule, our planner, our calendar doesn't really reflect what you're doing. Because as human beings, sometimes we are multitasking, we take tasks, we do things that might be random, and that we didn't necessarily capture in our planner or on our calendar. So writing this down separately, once again, whether you software, an Excel spreadsheet, or you know, a Google Sheet, write a piece of paper, that's going to be incredibly helpful. And once again, allow you to build your awareness in a way where you'll start to see those patterns and what's coming up. For some of you listening to this, you might be afraid, okay, and that's okay. Right. It's scary to build your awareness, especially if you find out you're not spending your time where you think you are. But as I mentioned before, this is an exercise to help you expand your awareness and to help you think about what you can do differently moving forward. And so you can also keep track of some of the things maybe that you're reflecting on and thinking about as well. Okay, so if you're a reluctant leader, you might recognise that you're spending a lot more time telling yourself, what you can't do what you shouldn't be doing as opposed to really stepping up and leading and being strategic. Right. What you might be doing also is letting impostor syndrome get in the way of getting things done. And so you find yourself just constantly overthinking in that way, if you're an overwhelmed leader, right, you might feel like you Don't have the time to really be strategic and you might end up paralysed or not being able to prioritise because you're trying to do all the things or you're trying to please all the stakeholders, right? Or you might even find that you're spending so much time having to manage stakeholders because you didn't set boundaries appropriately. And conflict is happening. Okay. And if you're a firefighting leader, or someone who feels like they might be micromanaging, what you might find is that you're spending time on the wrong things. You might be spending time on tasks that could be delegated or outsource, it might not feel really good, but it might feel like you have to do it, right. And so instead of being focused on strategy or on money making activities, you end up micromanaging. Right. And this is why time awareness is key, because you want to make sure that you're focusing on the task that you can only do because you want to make sure that you're creating space and time to think about what you can delegate, and what you can do differently moving forward. That is what this time audit is definitely going to support you with. All right. So if you have any questions about this, please let me know, please do feel free to reach out. I know if you're listening to this, and you've been listening to my content for a while you're doing a lot, you are a high achiever, you've probably accomplished a lot. But if you want to get to the next level, you really have to take the time to reflect on what you're doing. And as I mentioned before, I know you're doing a lot, but you're probably doing a lot of and I put this in quotes, a lot of the wrong things or a lot of the things that aren't going to move the needle in your business, or aren't going to support you on your leadership journey within the corporate environment that you might find yourself. So to end, I just want to share, I think I have four or five more questions that you can keep in mind. You know, I'm a coach, everything's really sort of inquiry based. And I think asking questions and the right questions can really help you get to the next level. So some additional elements, I'd recommend that you reflect on. And once again, I definitely have some other resources, blog posts, podcast episodes that you can listen to. But the first thing on here is what do I commit to right? And I'd recommend that you make one commitment a day or even it could be one commitment a week, if it's a bigger project, I'm sure I have a resource that talks about the difference between a project and a task as well, because that's also a huge part of being Time Aware. Are you assigning yourself bigger projects that need larger times? To actually get them done larger time blocks or chunks to get them done? Are they specific tasks that can be completed within 30 minutes or one hour? We're not going to get into that in this episode? And I'm sure I have another episode where I cover that. But asking yourself, What am I real priorities, selecting them writing them down that can help you stay on track? Another question you can ask yourself in terms of your time awareness is how do I handle stress, because stress, taking stimulants, all of that can warp your perception of time. And also change your time awareness as well. So that's something to keep in mind. Another thing that you can also ask yourself and reflect on in relation to your time awareness is how do you keep track of your work? How do you keep track of your task, your projects, as you delegate to others? How do you keep track of that as well? Those are questions that can help you also think about how you can streamline that, how that can also help you become more time efficient or productive, that something that you want to do. Another one I have here is what boundaries Do you want to set around your time or how people have access to you. So as you do your time audit, you might start to see that a lot of people start coming up to you or a lots of people come up to you in general. And they're asking a lot of the same questions. So what does that mean about your boundaries? What does that mean in terms of what you share with others to make sure they're successful? And they don't need you? Every single day? All right. So those are the four main questions. The last one that I want to ask you, right, the last one that I think you should ask yourself is, now that you have this information now that you've learned about time, awareness, what are you going to do differently? Let me know reach out, you can send me an email, you can reach out on the LinkedIn ads. You're also welcome to hit me up and Instagram. But I'd love to know, what are you going to do differently? Because with anything related to coaching, it's about being future oriented. So I'd love to know what you do next. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen. I hope this was a useful and thought provoking episode. Stay safe. And Stacey. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcast and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests, and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane you


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