Avoid Cookie-Cutter Solutions

This growing culture of convenience has a serious impact on all aspects of our lives, including how we manage our time. Today many of us have become accustomed to quick, easy, cookie-cutter solutions to many of our problems. Cookie-cutter solutions rarely work when it comes to time management – so here are some practical tips on how to personalise any time management scheme into something that works well for you!

What makes cookie-cutter solutions so appealing?

Let’s face it – it’s a lot easier and quicker to take something as an inflexible prescription than it is to analyse and eventually personalise it to our own situations. Because of this, it becomes difficult for us to convince ourselves that the effort needed will actually be worth it in the end. We end up thinking: if it works for others, it’ll work for me too, right? Not necessarily! While this may seem obvious, we’re all unique in our own little ways, and no one solution can have the exact same results for everyone!

There’s so much information available to us today, but if we aren’t able to apply it to our own individual life contexts, it becomes worthless. Getting out of the cookie-cutter solution mentality can be a challenge, but once you move on to a more self-directed path in life, you’ll be sure to notice positive results!

How to avoid cookie-cutter solutions

Breaking free from ineffective cookie-cutter solutions can be difficult, but it is definitely doable! Use the three tips below to take control over your own life and to mold time management solutions to suit your exact personality, needs and goals.

1.  Understand your inner self

Self-awareness is key. Don’t compartmentalise your time management issues as something external to who you are and your inner being. Instead, understand that your external world reflects the inner workings of your mind. Once you accept this, you can finally work on fixing the core issues rather than putting superficial, ineffective band-aids on a problem that is bound to re-surface without the right treatment.

In order to turn time management techniques into methods that will give you the results you’re hoping for, take the time to self-analyse. Ask yourself:

  • Why has A, B or C not been able to work for me?
  • Could my mindset be holding me back?
  • What are my goals?
  • Am I afraid of change?
  • What is hindering my success?
  • Do I have any self-sabotaging habits?
  • What’s at the root of my procrastination?

No one knows you better than yourself, which is why you’re the only person who holds the key to your success. Get to know yourself and seek out the guidance and solutions that fit you best!

2.  Evaluate your excuses

We’ve all made excuses about different things in our lives, but are all the excuses we make really valid? It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself – write down your most commonly used excuses, challenge them and look at them for what they really are. While some excuses may in fact be valid, others act as coping strategies to avoid facing the real issues.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is the task really too difficult or are you just not willing to make the effort to go out of your comfort zone?
  • Are you really too tired or is the task simply too overwhelming for you? If so, then why is it so overwhelming?
  • Are you really incapable of trying something new or are you just afraid of the possible changes that this will result in?

When you make a list of all your excuses, you’ll notice some recurring patterns and some excuses being used a lot more than others – use these patterns to better understand yourself. Dig deep and get to the bottom of all your excuses, and overcome the real obstacles that are standing in your way to success!

3.  Recognise the symptoms of time mismanagement

We’re often so busy going through the motions of our lives that it’s easy to overlook some key issues until the negative impacts of doing so get completely out of hand. The key is to catch the symptoms of the problems before they grow into serious issues that are more difficult to deal with.

So how can you tell when there’s an underlying issue that needs to be dealt with? Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • You struggle to meet deadlines
  • Your work-flow is unmanageable
  • You often feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • Your patience threshold is very low
  • Your family and friends have expressed concern over your well-being

Pay close attention to the above warning signs – in the long run they’ll help you identify the real causes of your time management problems and to pinpoint the key areas of your life that it may be worth analysing and changing!

4.  Create a system that works for you

Once you’ve gained some clarity over what you really want and what works (and what doesn’t), it’s time to work on creating or personalising a system that works for you! One of the key things to focus on during this process is the review of your progress. Once you establish clear targets (no matter what system or methodology you use), you can get quantifiable evidence as to what is working and what isn’t.

There is definitely a learning curve and a trial-and-error period involved in personalising a productivity/time management methodology. Using the three tips above will help you think strategically through this process without losing track of your main goals, what you really need to be doing and why.

Embrace your own unique, multifaceted shape and instead of trying to fit yourself into cookie-cutter techniques, mold the techniques to suit your own individual shape – you’ll get so much more out of your time this way!

If you missed the earlier tips – read

To your Success!


Kirstin ODonovan

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