I was recently watching the replay of an accountant entrepreneur mastermind group and one of the participants was asked when they planned to have something completed for their business. Like most of us might reply, the participant said, “Well, I hope to get it done by next week.”
On the surface, that reply sounds fine, but let me tell you, it’s not at all. Even though we all think and say things like, “Well, I hope to get it done,” it doesn't mean it’s helpful, especially as a busy accountant entrepreneur.
I completely understand why this participant said they hope they’ll get something done because the word “hope” has such a nice ring to it. When we hope something will happen, we tend to feel better than if we knew for a fact that something would not happen.
But hope is also tricky because it’s two-sided – on the one hand, if you hope, wish, or pray and want something to happen, it seems like hope is something useful, but on the other hand, if you don’t have hope, you’ll probably give up too early or not attempt it at all.
So what is hope, really? If you look it up in the dictionary, hope is both a noun and a verb – as a noun, hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; as a verb, hope is an action of feeling that something desired may happen.
Hope is wishing something will happen and offering an optimistic outlook for a brighter future. And let’s be honest, it just feels pretty good to have the feeling of hope.
We all hope the pandemic is eradicated soon, our children will always be happy, healthy, and safe, and we will live long, productive lives. It makes sense that we hope for a lot of things. .
Think about it this way – if you don’t have hope, in essence, you’re hopeless. People who lose hope also seem to have a dark rain cloud that follows them, always looking at things through the “glass is half empty” lens.
When someone is struggling with a challenge, what do we often say to them? Don’t give up hope! It’s essential to have hope in our lives because otherwise, we’d be living pretty dreary lives.
But when it comes to time management, hope is not helpful. Hope is not a time management strategy you want to use, especially if you're serious about learning how to manage your time to create more time for the people and things you love.
This week I’m going to discuss the reason why hope is not a time management strategy and what to do instead.
The reason why hope is not a time management strategy
One of the things I’ve noticed about how people approach time management, especially accountants, is in a very passive way:
- I hope I can get this done
- I hope I can finish this on time
- I hope I can cross that off my to-do list
- I’ll try and see what happens
- Hopefully, I’ll be able to follow my schedule
- I hope I can keep up
At first glance, these seem like positive, useful thoughts, but here’s the problem – as I said before, hope is not a strategy, especially when it comes to time management. These typical thoughts I just shared are all based on uncertainty.
The funny thing is that accountants like to argue with me that time management is an uncertain process. They’ll say that you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what will unexpectedly come up, you don’t know if you can plan your time, or they’ll argue that there’s no way you can be certain about time.
Here’s the thing – I agree that you won’t know everything when it comes to managing your time, but that part doesn’t require certainty. The part that requires certainty is in yourself, not in time.
It doesn’t mean you have all the answers or that you don’t need help learning better time management skills, specifically for accountants as I teach in The Balanced Accountant Program. What it means is that you can set yourself up to succeed with certainty in you, get the help you need, and learn and put what you learn into practice.
Many of my coaching clients are initially completely uncertain of themselves, but they are certain I can help them. That’s all they initially need to be certain of – me, my expertise in time management for accountants, and my ability to teach them how to manage their brains so they can manage their time.
If they believe that I can help them, that they don’t need to know all the details of how we’re going to manage their time, but that all they need to do is rely on me and my ability to help them, then we can get to work. If you don’t yet have certainty in you, you can always have certainty in me.
You don’t need to know exactly how much time you’ll create or how much less overwhelmed you’ll feel. You just need to be certain that I can help and that you can learn the time management skills that I teach.
When I worked with my own coaches on time management, I had no idea what we were going to be working on; I just knew I needed help and that I believed I could get the help I needed. When I placed my certainty on my coaches, I could trust the process and keep showing up day after day.
After enough days of showing up, doing the work, and creating the results I wanted, I started believing in myself in a whole new way. I began to feel certain in myself, certain that I would not beat myself up when things didn’t go as planned, certain that I would figure things out, and certain that I wouldn’t quit on myself.
When you’re hoping to manage your time better or hoping to be able to get things done, there’s no certainty in anything. In essence, hope is just a nice-sounding word for doubt.
Ultimately, you doubt that you’re someone who can create the time management that you want, and you doubt that you will do what you say you’re going to do. For example, that participant in the mastermind said that she hoped to get something done by next week, but what she was really saying was that she was uncertain or doubtful that she would.
The tricky thing with hope is that when you don’t get the results you want, or you don’t do what you wanted to get done, you’re less disappointed because you never really believed it was possible in the first place. In essence, you hoped it was possible, but you weren’t truly willing to do whatever it took get the result you wanted.
It’s like we set ourselves up for not being disappointed in the future by just hoping right now that we’ll be able to get the result we want, or we tell ourselves or others what we want to hear without really believing we’ll follow through. Unfortunately, we do this to ourselves all the time and then wonder why there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day or why time isn’t on our side.
Let’s be honest; saying you hope to get something done is an excuse in advance that lessens your accountability and typically gets someone off your back. For example, if you’re in a meeting and asked when you’ll have something done, if you say something like, “I hope to have it done by Friday,” what you’re really saying is, “Here’s what I think you want to hear; now can you move on to someone else?”
When it comes to time management, hoping is actually indulgent because it seems useful, but it never creates what we really want. Hope is passive, and passivity is not what creates the time management or the productivity you want.
In The Balanced Accountant Program, I teach both mind management and time management because if you don’t know the skill of managing your brain, you cannot manage your time. In the program, I teach a tool called The Manage Your Mind Model which shows you how your feelings fuel your actions and why that’s so important when managing your time.
So think about hope as a feeling that fuels your actions – when you’re feeling hopeful, what do you do? What do you not do? When you’re hopeful about time management or getting something done on your to-do list, you probably allow distractions; you may procrastinate or indulge in overwhelm, you probably lack focus, you don’t prioritize what you need to do to get the result you want, and you don’t take massive action.
Let’s say that the mastermind participant was working on writing a blog for her website and she said, “I hope to get it done by next week” – the feeling that thought created was probably hope. But what do you think she did or didn’t do from the feeling of hope? She probably didn’t calendar the steps for writing a blog, got distracted with other things for her business, procrastinated coming up with a topic, and resisted sitting down to write an outline for the blog. And the result? She didn’t get it done the next week.
As you can see, hope is not a time management strategy because hope is too passive and will not drive action. To be honest, this is a very good thing to know because you can do something different by shining a light on this and creating some awareness.
What to do instead
So, what would be more helpful if hope isn't helpful when it comes to time management? Just recognizing that hope is actually wrapped up in the feeling of doubt is really the first step.
You have to start with the awareness of what doesn’t get done when you feel hope, and instead choose a less passive emotion. Remember, your emotions fuel your actions so you want to use the best fuel possible, especially as a busy accountant and mom who wants to make the most of her time.
You need to identify what needs to change so that your time management is dialed in. As I said before, you need to learn the skill of managing your mind before you manage your time, so you need to be aware of those sneaky “hope” thoughts that aren’t getting you the results you need or want.
I’m often asked by accountant mom entrepreneurs how they can get everything done for their business, but also have time for their family as well. They struggle with work-life balance and just wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.
So here’s what I tell them – choose more powerful thoughts that create more powerful feelings. Wishy-washy thoughts like “I hope I can get this done” or “I hope I can finish this on time” just produce wishy-washy feelings and inaction.
The key is that you get to choose thoughts that produce feelings like focused, decisive, and determined; you get to have certainty in yourself that you’ll do whatever it takes to get something done, to follow your calendar exactly as it’s planned, or to create whatever result you want to create with your time.
For that mastermind participant that was asked when she planned to have the blog written for her website, instead of saying “I hope to get it done next week,” she could have chosen to say “It will be done next week” or “I will make it happen by next week.” From those thoughts, I imagine she would have felt motivated and created a plan of action, she wouldn’t have procrastinated, and she would have made it happen.
Over the next week or so, notice how often you say that you hope you’ll get something done and begin to choose to think, “It will get done” instead. Notice how much more in control you feel when you tell yourself, “It will get done,” and then begin to notice how much you actually get done.
I’ve said this before on the podcast, but I cannot stress it enough that your attitude towards time is more important than you realize. Being hopeful is definitely not helpful and can often create a backlog of things undone.
If you want to get more done in less time, hope is not the time management strategy you’ll want to use. It’s only going to keep that long to-do list of yours getting longer and longer.
By all means be hopeful that the world becomes a peaceful place and that you and your family have healthy, happy lives; just don’t use hope as a time management strategy, especially if you want to create more time for the things and the people you love.
- Hope is not a time management strategy you want to use, especially if you're serious about learning how to manage your time to create more time for the people and things you love.
- The tricky thing with hope is that when you don’t get the results you want, or you don’t do what you wanted to get done, you’re less disappointed because you never really believed it was possible in the first place.
- If you don’t yet have certainty in you, you can always have certainty in me.