“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” ~ Walt Disney
Time is the most precious commodity that we have. Unlike money, it is finite in supply and cannot be replenished. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. This is why we must make the most of the time that we have. The great thing about time is that it is unbiased. It does not care what your age, race, sex, income, or religion is. You have the same as anyone else regardless. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, male or female, your time is the same. It is not about how much time you have, but rather what you do with it.
In 2013, I had a heart attack which led to me having a triple-bypass. I realized that we do not have an endless amount of time on this Earth. How much of our time is wasted or not utilized for pursue what we really want? I needed to evaluate what was important to me. I had to take action and live instead of just exist.
Are you spending your time wisely or frittering it away? If you found that you only had one year left to live, how would you plan on spending it? Most of us are not given the luxury of knowing how much time we have. Therefore, to effectively utilize it, we may want to spend it as if we only have a short time left to get the most out of it. We want to maximize our productivity. If you are given a month to complete a project, there are many of us that fall into the procrastination trap and put it off until the last minute. How many of us actually take advantage of the extra time and put it to good use? It is not enough to set your goals, but you have to get serious about avoiding distractions.
Most of us claim that we do not have enough time. We spend one-third of our time in bed. Most of us spend twenty-five percent of our time at work. Somehow, we have to balance the rest of the time that we have getting chores finished, socializing, spending it with our family, and somewhere in there, find a few minutes to set aside and commit to pursuing our goals. Balance is the key. Without balance, we become stressed and lose sight of our happiness. It is crucial to balance all of the aspects of our lives: work, family, friends, goals, etc. It is quite a juggling act, but it is necessary to live a fulfilling life.
It is easy to use the excuse that we just simply do not have enough time. That is a fallacy. We have the same twenty-four hours a day that Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Thomas Edison had. The difference between us and them is that they knew how to properly prioritize. Prioritize your time by deciding what items are important or crucial.
To properly utilize your time, you must identify your time-wasters and learn how to overcome them. These are the activities that squander our time and are not productive. This could include watching TV or surfing the internet. Make a journal to assess how you spend your time for a week. Write down every activity and how long you spend doing it. You may be surprised how much time you do squander. Was the time spent on certain activities important or crucial? If not, you may want to re-evaluate your choices.
Learn how to set limits. Always be punctual. You don’t want to waste someone’s time by being late. Make sure that meetings begin and end on time. Setting a structure can help to make the meeting more timely and efficient. Think about what you want to get out of the meeting before it begins. If you are the one organizing the meeting, ask yourself if the meeting is even necessary. Meetings can eat up a lot of time, so if you are having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting, rethink how that time could be better spent.
Get out of the habit of constantly checking your email throughout the day. It can be a distraction. If we spend our time constantly checking and answering emails, we will not get anything else done. Choose a time of day, maybe first thing in the morning, to check and answer emails. Set a time limit for doing so. If you have a lot of emails, set aside one hour out of your day for that task. Set an alarm on your phone to let you know when you have hit the one hour mark and stick to that limit. Start with answering the most recent emails first. If you are backlogged, your first inclination will be to answer the oldest emails, but what happens is new emails keep popping up, and some are probably related to one of the older ones. If you attack the newest ones first, you will be surprised how quickly you will knock those emails out.
Turn off all electronics before bed. Looking at your phone or tablet as you are trying to get ready for bed is damaging. The blue light that electronics emit is counterproductive to your sleep. It halts your body’s production of melatonin. If you are on your smartphone looking at Facebook and have trouble falling asleep, now you know part of the reason why.
When you are around other people, make a habit of putting your electronics away. If you are constantly checking your phone at the dinner table, you are not being in the moment with the real people that are right there with you. It is not only a distraction, but it is downright rude.
Clutter can be the enemy. It can be a huge distraction. Some of us use our disorganization as a reason to put off our goals. “I will work on my goal once I get my house clean.” Then, do it! Create three piles: Keep, Give Away, and Throw Away. If you have not used it in six months and you don’t see yourself using it in six more months, get rid of it. If you think it could be of use to someone else, give it away. There are tons of shelters and thrift stores that would welcome your donation. They may also be tax deductible. If it is broken, worn out, or torn, recycle or toss it. If you haven’t patched up that hole by now, you aren’t going to. Quit creating more unnecessary tasks for yourself. “But I spent a lot of money on these clothes. I’ll try to sell them on eBay or consign them.” You have just given yourself another job to do! Do you really want to take the time to sell stuff, which is taking away time from your goal, to make a few bucks? The time that you will have to dedicate to doing that is more than likely not worth the small amount of money that you will make.
Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today! Procrastination is a major Achilles heel for most people. If your task falls under the important or urgent category, do it now. Once it is finished, you will feel so good about yourself and feel motivated to finish another task. Procrastination is only a way of putting off your success.
Take a break! I know you may be thinking, “I can’t take a break. I have too much to do.” Work for an hour, and then take a break for fifteen minutes, if possible. You need to regroup and refuel to avoid getting burned out and overwhelmed. Also, set time aside for meditation. Even ten minutes of meditation can be effective. It gives your brain a break, which may allow you to properly put things into perspective. It will help you manage time, because it will give you more balance.
As Jack Torrance says in The Shining, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” You have to put time aside to stop and smell the roses. It is important to take the time to unwind from the stresses of the day.
Try out a few of these tips to de-stress:
· Take time to be alone and evaluate.
· Simplify your life. (eliminate what is not necessary)
· Deep, slow breathing.
· Do something each day that brings you joy.
· It’s okay to say no.
· Do the task “right now” — “tomorrow” never comes.
· Notice nature. — (also people, music, etc.)
· Do one thing, focused, at a time.
· Stay in the Present.
· Take a walk in your neighborhood.
· Listen to your favorite music.
· Make a date night with your significant other.
· Be aware of the demands you put on yourself.
· Smile and laugh more.
· Stop and smell the roses.
Preparation aids time management. If you are fumbling around trying to find materials, you are wasting time. Keep the items that you use on a regular basis close at hand, and put away the things that don’t get as much use. Being properly prepared frees up that time. Having a system of organization helps in preparation. Having folders properly labeled will save you time when looking for a document. Make a folder for each project, that includes physical files, computer files, and email files. This will make it easier to locate what is needed and make your system more functional.
Trying to pick out what to wear can be a daunting task. We can end up unnecessarily wasting a lot of time over what should take a few seconds to do. To avoid this, pick out what you are going to wear the night before. You can do this right before you go to bed as you are doing your nightly routines of brushing your teeth and washing your face. Have them ready and laying on a chair or hanging on the door.
Spend the last ten minutes of your workday making a list of what you need to accomplish the following day. Have it sitting on your desk waiting for you. It is easier for me to think of what needs to be done the night before. If I wait until the next morning, I am busy waking up or can’t remember what I said that I had wanted to do. Prepare by doing it the night before, and make sure that you look at it the next day. A list means nothing if you do not use it.
Not all tasks carry the same weight. Some tasks have a higher priority than others. You have to look at your list of tasks and determine which ones are important, urgent, or neither. Mailing a package so that it arrives for a meeting in time is urgent. Making a yearly doctor’s appointment is important. Watching a recording on your DVR that you have already seen twice is neither important nor urgent.
Sometimes you can free some time up for yourself by delegating tasks to other people. Do you have someone that you work with that you could trust to do this task? When I was a manager, I felt compelled to try to do everything myself. I was a bit of a perfectionist. I wasn’t sure if someone else would do it as well as I wanted it done, so I took on a lot of unnecessary workload. I had to learn to delegate to others. After all, if I trained them, I should be able to trust them to do the job. It makes them a stronger and valued employee, gives them a sense of purpose, and lightens your load.
Make a schedule. Block off time to work on projects. This provides structure to keep one on track to meet deadlines. If the goal you want to set is important, you must make time for it. In your schedule, block off what task you want to work on to complete your goal. Get a daily planner that has hourly designations. This will also show you where you are spending your time.
Organization In The Office
Your environment can dictate how you feel. If your space is cluttered and chaotic, you may feel more stressed and frazzled. An environment that is more welcoming will put your mental and emotional state more at ease. This is true for your office as well as your home.
Start by organizing your desk. It does not have to be clinical and barren. Have a picture of your loved one or a nice plant on your desk. Avoid a clock on your desk, because you will constantly be stopping what you are doing and checking the time. Put the clutter away; a place for everything, and everything in its place. If your space is littered with clutter, you may spend more time than desired looking for things. Instead of having loose papers piled up everywhere, develop a filing system with everything properly labeled. If you are worried about taking up room, a small, two-drawer filing cabinet can fit under your desk. Make sure your office supplies are close at hand and well-stocked. You do not want to be in the middle of a project just to stop and look for paperclips and staples.
Display a basket or tray for incoming things that need attention. Another system could be two trays/baskets with one area for new and unopened documents and a second area for older pieces that you may have looked at but need attention. This will help to curb and eliminate paper clutter. Make sure that there is a wastebasket next to the desk. If you find that your wastebasket gets filled up quickly, replace it with a bigger one.
Plastic totes can be utilized for bigger items that need a place. If you have things that you use seasonally, place them in a labeled tote and store them for later. Making sure that things are properly labeled saves time from rifling through each tote to find something. Put smaller things like staplers and tape dispensers in a drawer or tray. This also clears up space on your desk.
“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.” ~ Mae West