It’s about time

‘Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.’ – William Penn

We live and work in a world with escalating to-do lists, big projects with short deadlines, delivery dates, intense workloads, mounting obligations and unending tasks, it’s no wonder that we often feel time-deprived. Our lives never feel balanced and we tend to feel ten minutes late for everything.

Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. The biggest challenge facing most of us is normally related to time, or the lack of it. Do you feel that you simply have too much to do and too little time to do it in? We feel continuous stress, but to think that the chaos and stress in life is caused by not having enough time is an error.

The problem is not that of time, it’s that of self-management. We all have the same amount. We all get 168 hours a week no matter who we are. The choices you make determine whether you’re running your life, or your life is running you. And you do have choices. There may be consequences to saying no, establishing boundaries or resetting priorities, but there are also consequences if you don’t.

All tasks are not equal. All commitments are not equal. All responsibilities are not equal. All clients are not equal. All people of personal importance to your life are not equal. Yet many of us operate as if they are.

How you spend your time puts value on what you’re spending it on.

Below are a few of my top tips for better self-management:

  • Write a to-do list at the end of each day so you can get stuck in first thing tomorrow.
  • Limit your time checking emails. Checking emails too often leads to others managing far too much of your time and actions. Dozens come flooding in each day so make a point of only looking at them three or four times a day and then responding or taking action as appropriate. It makes your time much more effective.
  • Everyone is different in terms of when they are most productive. If you can analyse when your most productive time is then it’s useful to schedule important activities to match. I for example, am at my most effective and creative very early in the morning.
  • Be careful if you work from home. Working from home gives me flexibility, but it’s also easy to get distracted. You have to discipline yourself to be focused on your job or business.
  • Keep a close eye and monitor and measure how you spend your time. See what activities are taking too long.
  • I try to keep a clear desk and it’s important to factor in clearing-up time into your day. It’s easy to let things pile up and you’ll find that time gets wasted by searching through piles of paperwork.
  • I carry a journal with me everywhere I go. It helps with noting down ideas and thoughts, but also reminds me of things I need to do. It also helps to reduce stress, because if you can get it all down on paper then you feel much more in control. I subscribe to the philosophy of ‘thinking on paper’.
  • Avoid too much mindless television. If you can reduce your television viewing by two hours a day you would save 730 hours a year and that is equivalent to three months’ working hours. Imagine if you spent these found hours on relationships, reading and exercise.

People who are winning realise that there is always time for what matters to them. So, they allocate their time carefully, understanding their life as a reflection of their choices. They make time for the people and the work they love.

People who better manage themselves and their time focus far more clearly on their results, goals, and life-dreams, rather than accepting what comes their way. They plan their day, while others let their day plan them.

‘Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.’ – Alan Lakein