In last week’s blog, “I want to do it all”, I mentioned 3 things to consider when picking and choosing between the things you want to do and are required to do. Becoming flexible allows you to handle additional but temporary responsibilities.Identifying and eliminating time wasters gives us the advantage of effectively scheduling our work week to include both rest and relaxation and projects that feed the soul.
A piece of driftwood will drift down a stream at the mercy of the current, wind and waves. We often live our lives like a piece of driftwood, at the mercy of the winds and currents of life, reacting to whatever is happening instead of proactively accomplishing objectives.
Much of the distress we experience in life comes not just from becoming overwhelmed with time pressure and unreasonable expectations; but feeling we have little control over anything, especially our time.
Self-regulation is never easy. When we were kids, we did not like it when we were required to pick up our toys, hang up our clothes and clean our rooms. It was easier to just step over things instead of going to the trouble of putting things away. As adults we still rebel against “having to do” things we don’t feel like doing.
But routines, structure and schedules free up our time and allows us to do the things we want. Without structure, routines and self regulation, we become slaves to chaos. We are no longer in charge of our lives – disorder is.
Time management begins with identifying your current patterns of behavior. Until we do, we won’t recognize the things we do that keep us in a state of turmoil and disarray feeling overwhelmed, discontented and helpless. The following three steps can help clarify ways to make better use of your time.
Time Management 101
Step One: For one week, keep a log of how you spend your time throughout each day. Be ruthless in your honesty of what you do. From morning routines to work schedules to night time, how do you spend your time? How much time is wasted every day? What routines can be simplified and streamlined? Are family members helping in family chores? If not, why not? Even preschool children can learn simple tasks.
Step Two: Prioritize your time. Put together a routine for each day. Be consistent in following it. What is absolutely necessary? What things can be put on hold? What things are discretionary and can be eliminated? Can you maximize otherwise wasted times such as waiting for appointments, lunch breaks, riding the bus, etc. Schedule time on the weekend or some nights to do things you love to do. This is more than rest and relaxation – it is renewal and rejuvenation.
Step Three: Be patient as you develop new habits. Habits are just patterns of behavior we develop over time. It takes time, consistency and conscious commitment to put them in place. Once in place, they become a pattern of life.
When putting a new habit in place, remind yourself that you want to do this and you can do it. If your schedule is too rigid, adjust it. If you are following your new routine, don’t stress over the things that don’t get finished. Let go of the things there isn’t time to do. Honor that time at the end of the day to rest and relax.