Time – you cannot keep it. You cannot catch it. You cannot stop it. You cannot possess it. It is the one resource that we’re offered free of charge. It is the only resource that every one is given exactly the same quantity every day. So why do some people manage it so well while others live a life of chaos and frenzy? Why isn’t time always on your side?
How we choose to use time determines everything. How are your choices in spending 24 hours? Do you take personal responsibility for how your day is managed?
Unlock the mystery of time management with these three keys:
#1. Don’t plan 100% of your day
#2. Stay on task and keep your focus
#3. Stop the blame game
#1. Don’t plan 100% of your day.
People who make the choice to plan every moment of time in every day are doomed for failure. The one guarantee is that your day will be interrupted by the unexpected. Emergencies will reach new levels of importance and must be handled immediately. So what happens? You run out of time and are frustrated, cranky, and upset.
A good rule to follow is to schedule 80 percent of your day ONLY – and leave 20 percent of your day for the unexpected. Customize this 80/20 ratio by completing a time log. Yes, a time log. Capture every task you complete, everything you do, on a day-to-day basis for only five days. The secret of a time log is to write down every task, yes every action, as they happen. If you wrote down everything you did yesterday, you would only remember about 50 percent or less of all that you did. You must do it in the moment!
The reason? You do too much. You complete tasks because they have become a habit, not necessarily because it is the best use of your time. You do them by rote. You don’t even have to think about it and bang! –- they’re done. Make the process easy. Use codes, initials, and checkmarks but be specific so you can go back after the five days and evaluate the time wasted or time well spent.
The evaluation of the time log is the real benefit. By reviewing the time spent on each task, you, and only you, can determine if you used your time well.
#2. Stay on task and keep your focus
You should be asking yourself these two questions at least eight to ten times every day:
- Is this the best use of my time right now?
- If I had time to do just one which one would I do?
One of the biggest time wasters is constantly shifting focus.
The Wall Street Journal’s article completed a study finding that the average time spent on a task before being interrupted is 12 minutes and 40 seconds. Employees in cubicles are interrupted 29% more often than those in private offices, research from the University of California, Irvine, shows.
Think about it. When you are interrupted, and then go back to work do you ever say to yourself, “Now where was I?” This is your mind shifting gears back to the initial task – and to delve back to the depth where you were prior to the interruption takes about eight minutes.
Prevention? Take your “to-do” list and your time log and compare them item-by-item. Do they match exactly? Of course not! For a multitude of reasons, you do things not on your to-do list. And then you secretly write them on the list then cross them off! That feels good! That’s why we do it so we don’t feel guilty doing something not on our list!
Now go back to your time log and customize these percentages for you. You now have a tool to maximize your day. Do you choose to use it?
#3. Stop the blame game or are you too nice?
Are you blaming others (parents, friends, colleagues or family) for the hectic pace of your life? What are these people forcing on you that you have no option to control? The operative word is forcing. Every moment of your day is your personal responsibility.
What are these people forcing on you that you could control if you had the right perspective and courage to decide differently?
A Forbes article has great advice for people who are too nice. “You need to be ruthless about protecting your schedule and your priorities and your agenda … because no one else will. It’s not their job to look out for your plans.”
Consider these statements:
- You value time with your loved ones, but have to work long hours and travel, so you are not really spending time with your loved ones.
- You enjoy spending time with your partner, yet the weekend is filled with catching up, running errands and getting ready for the next week, so your spouse, partner, loved one doesn’t get the attention you want to give.
- You want to be healthy, but can’t find time to exercise and you eat fast food to save time, so you don’t feel as good as you should.
- You value learning new skills, but are not always ready to invest in yourself, but you do spend time worrying about it. In addition, not to mention the four hours a day the average person spends in front of the TV.
You get the picture? Walk your talk. Period.
Forcing yourself to make conscious decisions on how you spend your time is not easy. We tend to make decisions by default, letting outside forces make the choices. Have you chosen a life by design or a life by default? We continue long-outdated routines and limit options by procrastinating and then wait until the last minute. The checking in and checking up falls by the way side.
This may be a new perspective:
When time just flies – what are you doing? We must train ourselves to figure this out because it is your passion. If you’re passionate about what you do, you never worry about how you’re managing your time. Passion is central to success.
“Do what you love and love what you do and the money will follow.
Time will fly and you will be happier than any other time in your life.”
You can always choose whether or not to twist yourself into a pretzel over work – most of us choose not to. Time is on your side.