Stop Wasting Time Trying to Manage Time (Part 1) #112
Have you ever looked at your “to do” list and felt that aching drop in the pit of your stomach? It’s usually accompanied by thoughts like, “Right, like I’ll ever get to the bottom of the list,” or, “Wow, it’s overwhelming and I have no time for anything that matters to ME.”
Now, imagine instead ending your workday thinking, “YESS! This was a great day! I did what was most important and now I get to go do what I want.” If you can’t remember the last time you thought like that (or if you never have), read on.
What does the phrase “time management” really mean? Think about it. You can’t manage time because it’s a measurement we created to coordinate promises, actions and events, and how do you manage a measurement? Everyone has 24 hours, yet some people seem to consistently conquer the world with ease while others are overwhelmed when the smallest of things are off track. What’s the difference between the two?
A more significant question is, how do you become more effective with your time if there’s really no way to manage it?
You can only manage the promises, actions and events you’ve made commitments to. So how do you practice coordinating all your commitments?
Here’s an exercise I created to have integrity between your true priorities and what you actually spend your time focusing on and accomplishing.
Here’s the exercise (steps for change to follow in tomorrow’s blog):
A. List the top three areas of priority in your life. Consider: family, career, relationships, recreation, spirituality, community, self care, finance/money, health/body, education. Write them down in order of priority.
B. Look at the last three months of your calendar and write down the top three areas of priority based on your actual time spent doing each. Now rank them by most time spent to least.
(I know you spend time in considerably more than three areas, but for the purposes of this exercise, I narrowed it so you can clearly see how aligned what you say matters most is with how you actually utilize your time.)
C. Compare the two to see if there are discrepancies. For example, in Step A you may have listed your family as your most important priority, but the time you actually spent with them wasn’t in the top three. (This is not uncommon.) If there are discrepancies, keep reading. (If they match up well, keep up the good work!)
Remember, the point is to align what you say are priorities in your life with how you actually spend your time. When I first did this, I wasn’t aligned at all. As I reviewed how I spent my days, it became less of a mystery as to why I created stress and chaos on certain days and why other days were more joyful. Once I could see it, there was no mystery. In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll cover steps to re-align your time with your desired priorities.