How many of us have thought “I really want to start a new hobby, I want to walk more, I want to spend more time with my kids, I want to go out dancing…. I just have no time”.
Here is the secret: time is relative, it’s what we choose to do with our time that counts. Yes, some people are extremely busy, living a busy busy life, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have time to do amazing things that make YOU and others happy.
How do you do this?
We all heard the dreadful term: Time management. It is about managing your time, but it's more about prioritizing your time with what’s important to you. Yes, this does involve goal setting, and list making.
5 Time Management Skills:
Plan out your year, month, week and day
Think of what you want to accomplish this year, it can be as simple as decluttering the house, to running a marathon. When you know what goals are, make time for them in your schedule. Ex: every month I declutter 1 room in the house, or sign up for a 5k race. During the week, I throw-out or donate all the things I don’t want in that room, or I determine how many km I need to run this week. Each day or night, take a few minutes to plan out your agenda for the day. If you write it down in a planning notebook or time management app, then you are committing to that task. You are consciously choosing what is a priority for you. Pick something that makes you happy. Seems like too much? You can start by just sitting down and planning out the following week. Pro tip: you will over schedule... so take that task list, cut it in half and that is what you can accomplish in a single day. Once your expectations are aligned, you can be proud of completing 2 tasks, instead of disappointed you didn’t complete 4 tasks.
It doesn't need to be perfect
Done is better than perfect. Schedules change, things are moved around. Know that it’s okay not to be perfect. If your car breaks down or your house floods, dealing with that is top priority, your schedule will change. Plans can change or fail, but when the crisis is over, make sure to add time for the things that make you happy.
We are not wired to multitask; our brains did not evolve to do this. Yet we do it all the time and we think we are good at it. Research shows that by multitasking we suffer a 40% drop in productivity. In an 8-hour work day, that’s over 3 hours of distracted and wasted time. Constant multitasking takes a huge toll on your brain health, leaving you exhausted, and drained. Limiting distractions will help you stay on task, and find the time to be happy.
Take breaks to recharge your batteries
Planning your day is extremely important but you need to schedule or be mindful to take time to recharge your batteries. These are breaks to recharge your physical, mental, and emotional batteries. This does not include playing games on your phone. Take a few minutes during the day to be with yourself (mindfulness). Taking these small breaks during the day will rest your mind and energize you to stay focused and attentive for your next task.
Ya… boundaries aren’t fun, but they are critical to time management. Set your schedule, and stick to it as much as you can. Sure, emergencies will arise, but a colleague asking you to help them with a task isn’t one of them. Get really comfortable with saying “no” or if that is too tough for you, let them know that you are fully booked right now, but you have time at “x-o'clock”. Often, people end up doing a huge amount of work for other people, simply because they keep saying “yes”. The same goes for your personal life. Invited to a family dinner that will cause you to miss your 10km run you had planned to reach your marathon goal? You might be tempted to blow off your run, thinking a dinner or other function is more important, so take the time to analyze if it is actually more important to YOU. Time is the only commodity in life you cannot get back, so protect it.
Time management can be difficult but the wording you use during the day can make all the difference. Instead of saying, I don’t have time for X, Y, and Z, you say: I don’t do X, Y, and Z because I choose to do A.
Upgrade your brain by choosing how you want to spend your time. Time management is a choice, your choice.
Mother and ER Doctor, Darria Long, has a great technique to triage your busy life. I encourage you to listen to her talk titled