The ongoing battle to find more time…

Many of us lead very busy lives…we attempt (and many succeed) to balance work, family, hobbies, community, and school.There are many like me, however, who struggle to find more hours in the day and days in the week to accomplish all we set out to do.Too many times I get to the end of the day and am perplexed at how little I managed to accomplish…it is like my to-do list is hijacked and, I know I’m not the only one!A Google search on “time management” resulted in over 9 million hits – many of the top focused on time management skills and resources.

Time is constant…as Julie Morganstern (1998) put it, “Time is measurable, and we all get exactly the same amount – 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”Given this why do so many seem to struggle to manage time?Perhaps it is because we approach it from the wrong direction – what if, instead of trying to manage time, we learned to manage ourselves?

A good first step in is to analyze how or what seems to fill your day. Take a moment (assuming you can find one) to ask yourself:

  • How do you manage your work day now?
    o What’s working and what’s not?
    o What time of day are you at your best?
  • What things are you juggling?
    o Work
    o School
    o Family
    o Other
  • What hinders your ability to manage your day (time) effectively?
    o Constant interruptions
    o Inefficient workspace
    o Shifting priorities / deadlines
    o Disorganization
    o Inability to say “no”

Once you have a better sense of what is negatively impacting your day you can look for solutions.

  • If you are struggling to efficiently plan and prioritize projects/tasks
    o Ask for help
    o Read a book on time management, setting priorities, or even goal setting
    o Participate in a workshop
  • If disorganization and inefficient workspace is a problem
    o Take time to clean and organize your office/workspace
    o Develop a filing system that will make sense for you!
  • If you are constantly interrupted by phone calls, emails, visitors
    o Institute a “no-email” policy – many organizations are instituting email-free zones (i.e., no emails between 10am and 2pm daily)
    o Turn your phone off for an hour or so each day
  • If priorities and deadlines keep shifting
    o Ask for help / clarification…engage your team / manager in how to best prioritize work load

Know your PRIME TIME and plan schedules and projects accordingly

  • Work on complex projects when creativity and concentration are at peak
  • You’re motivated and at your best
  • Leave less demanding activities for low energy times

Most importantly, remember:

Time is free, but it’s priceless.

You can’t own it, but you can use it.

You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.

Once you’ve lost it

you can never get it back

~Harvey MacKay

Originally posted May 14, 2010 by Deirdre Pickerell

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