Every now and then, I think for myself about my main time management challenges. I think that taking an honest look at what is difficult at the moment is as important as celebrating our successes. For me, taking a step back and putting the finger on the wound of what is difficult with managing my time is often the first step in solving the issue.
I’ve been writing as well about my main time management struggles many times over the years of this blog. I wrote about my struggles when I adjust to a faculty position, I wrote about my struggles with overwork during the pandemic, and I’ve written about the challenge of working in two countries.
My current time management struggles are the following:
- Morning working hours: I do my best work in the early morning, and the early morning is my overlap time with the Netherlands when I’m in Ecuador, so I “lose” my best work hours to meetings with my colleagues. I haven’t found a solution to this problem. I’ve asked ChatGPT for a solution and the bot sent a bunch of mumbojumbo but nothing useful. The challenge remains. If anybody in the Americas who collaborates with Europe has the same issue and has found a solution, I’m all ears.
- Part-time combinations: At the end of the day, it is two jobs and two mailboxes and two different set of requirements. In addition, there’s the difficulty of being only a short amount of time in the Netherlands, and finding childcare during that time.
- Email overload. Ugh. Email. Ugh. I don’t know what to do with all the emails. I alternate between periods of having it all together and periods of complete utter despair and months of backlog. I’ve tried many different systems, and the problem remains that email is hard to predict (average influx is quite variable), the time it takes to reply varies a lot as well, and so it remains difficult for me to properly estimate how much time to schedule to clear my inbox.
- Hyperfocus periods: Sometimes when I just need to get a project done, I let everything else slide to the side. In a sense, hyperfocus is great to get major milestones done. On the other hand, though, everything else gets behind and cleaning up the messes afterwards isn’t pretty.
- All the driving: We moved to a borough next to the one where we used to live and where the university is located. In kilometers, we are very close. But traffic in Quito is a disaster, so I’m now spending a lot of time in my car. If I leave early in the morning, I’m in before the trouble starts (I tend to use this time to go to the gym). In the afternoon, it’s a mess. If I need to take my cat to the vet, I have to take three-four hours out of my day to go home, pick up Mr Cat, drive into the city, take his appointment, and return home. Picking up my kid from her activities also includes lots of driving and waiting time. I need to find ways to use my waiting time more productively (?) and to make better use of my driving time (I’ve listened to a fair share of audiobooks though while driving, so that’s a benefit).
What are your current time management struggles? If you know any solution for mine, please let me know!