Time is the most valuable commodity any of us has, so it is extremely beneficial to examine ways to develop time management strategies that allow us to make the most of the time available to us.
Think about it. Unlike other commodities, time is something we all get in equal measure. Every living person gets exactly 24 hours a day, no more and no less. Regardless of our economic, social or intellectual status, whether we are old, young or somewhere in between, we are allotted the same amount of hours per day and that cannot be changed.
So the variable here is not the amount of time we have, but how we use the time allotted to us. This means that developing skills for better time management that actually give us more time to spend doing the things we really want to do.
Why am I emphasizing this point?
Of all the feedback that comes my way from clients, subscribers and readers, the one comment I here most often is, “I don’t have enough time?” Isn’t that really a comment related to time management skills? Here are a few partial quotes, “…trying to do everything all at once,” “… getting overwhelmed by committing to too many things,” and, “there never seems to be enough time.”
Do you ever feel that way? With the ever-increasing demands being put on our time and energy, it’s no wonder that people feel overwhelmed. So, how can we deal with it?
Learn simple skills for time management
There are a few simple strategies I can suggest that will provide a measure of relief. To keep things realistic though, we need to remember that there actually is a limit to what can be accomplished in 24 hours. Nobody gets a 25-hour day, so with that in mind, let’s acknowledge that limiting the number of things we try to pack into a day is vital for good time management.
If we habitually spread ourselves too thin, we will be unable to accomplish anything effectively. This just adds to the problem, and increases the pressure we feel to get more done. Avoid this trap by learning to set reasonable limits and focusing on the task at hand.
Now that we’ve acknowledged that we are working within certain limits beyond our control, we see the need for some effective time management strategies. With that in mind, let’s examine some areas where we do have a measure of control.
5 Important areas ripe for better time management
1) Decide which activities will get top priority.
2) Limit distractions and clutter that rob you of energy.
3) Schedule brief but refreshing breaks.
4) Tweak your perception of time.
5) Simplify your life.
Notice that our list starts with the basics. That’s because if we don’t get the basics right, the rest really doesn’t matter.
3 high priority items that you should never ignore
1) Sleep. Never make the mistake of sacrificing sleep to get other things done. Your body, your mind, and your emotions all require adequate sleep in order to function properly. If you don’t like the way you are feeling physically, mentally, or emotionally, take an honest look at your sleep patterns. If there’s a problem or a lack, make the needed adjustments.
Depriving yourself of sleep is not time management because the overall cost is not worth it. With regard to sleep, the most important time management step is to adjust your schedule so that you get the sleep you need to function optimally.
2) Nutrition. If you’re living on coffee and fast food, adjustments are in order. Yes, it takes more time to properly nourish your body, but the time spent is an investment that pays dividends all day long. Like sleep, fast food is not a viable time management approach. Whatever time you save will eventually be offset by the negative effects of poor nutrition.
3) Exercise. The human body was not created to sit in a chair all day. Find some form of exercise that you can realistically commit to and make it a habit. Spend at least 15 to 20 minutes a day, five days a week in some form of activity that gets your blood flowing and your mind away from work. This is one of the easiest areas to ignore and that’s why it needs to become a priority.
Adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise, play a vital role in your mental clarity, energy levels, productivity, and overall outlook on life. Make them your first priority if you want to perform at peak levels. Remember, time management can only improve your life if your approach takes into account the things that matter most.
Is it important or just masquerading as urgent?
Another vital aspect of time management is learning to distinguish between things that seem to be urgent (but aren’t), and things that are truly important. Life is full of fake emergencies, and it’s quite possible to spend all your time dealing with them while never getting to the things that really matter.
The problem with this scenario is, at the end of the day you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything. That’s because you haven’t done any of the things that make a meaningful difference in the quality of your life. You’ve done nothing that moves you closer to your goals. In other words you haven’t taken time to do what’s important because you’ve been too busy doing what seemed to be urgent but wasn’t. This is one area of time management that requires genuine discernment.
Keep your priorities straight
These days the overwhelming sense of hurry, hurry, hurry is easily confused with genuine urgency. Such demands can easily take control of our lives. If we let that happen, we will never feel like we have the time to take care of our mental, physical, or emotional health. Time is not money, time is life. That’s why it is so important to keep our priorities straight.
The only way to truly improve your time management approach is to organize your schedule each day so that you can spend the majority of time doing what is really important rather than what is merely masquerading as urgent.
Do low priority activities ever dominate your day?
Have you ever sacrificed your health because you felt rushed?
The lines are open!
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Note: This is part 1 of a 2 part series on time management.
Here’s the link to part 2…
A Simple yet Powerful Time Management Combo