“Either you run your day or your day runs you.” Jim Rohn
The one resource everyone has in common is time. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, where you live, what you look like, or who you know – we all get the same twenty-four hours, seven days a week. Lots of people never have enough, while others seem to get by pretty well on their allotment. Nowadays, a recurrent theme I hear is “life balance,” that is, having an adequate amount of time to devote to the significant areas of your life – family, work, friendships, responsibilities and interests. Here again, some folks seem to do just fine, while others struggle to hit the right note. What gives?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I truly believe what fits for one person might not work at all for the next. Employing a variety of “time management tips” isn’t likely to create lasting lifestyle change, if those changes aren’t tailored to us as individuals. There are times, too, when life throws us a curveball and we need to make adjustments. That being said, here are a few ideas that might get you started on a custom fit for your life.
- Plan your week ahead and be sure to schedule in personal time. If you want to work out four times a week, block that time on your calendar. If Saturdays or Sundays are family time, then make those inviolate. If you have a work deadline that requires an afternoon, that goes on the calendar. Smart planning can create time you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
- Stick to your plan. Having a plan is great, but will do nothing for you if you repeatedly let it fall by the wayside. There are times when it takes discipline, not always a popular idea. At times like that, it helps to remember that discipline is freedom. Doing what you need to do now frees you up to do what you want to do later.
- Be flexible. Things happen that can throw you off track for a day or a week, or more. At those times, remind yourself that all you can do is your best. Make adjustments, do what needs to be done, and try to get back on track as smoothly as possible as soon as possible.
- An oldie but goodie, because it works: Lists, lists, lists. Lists keep you organized. Know what you need to get done before the day starts, starting with the three most important tasks. After that, if something on your list doesn’t get done that day, just carry it over to the next.
- You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: Learn to say no. You can’t do everything. Decide what is most important to you. Say no to what isn’t.
- Employ the one-hour-a-day formula. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in one focused hour. If you have a project to complete, or a long-term goal, give yourself a one hour block of time, say, 5 days a week to work on it. This can keep you moving forward without feeling burdensome. Most of us can find one hour a day to focus on something really important.
- Practice mindfulness. A definition of mindfulness I like describes it as “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.” Take time out of your day to just be in the moment. Enjoy something beautiful. Get outside for a few minutes and appreciate the day, or enjoy your dog’s goofy antics. Listen to classical music. Breathe. Notice how you feel afterward. Taking mindfulness breaks can make a huge impact in your day.
These are just ideas. Try one or more on for size. If it’s a fit, great. If not, try another. Or come up with your own. Whatever you come up with, I hope it’s something that lets you make the most of your moments, and your day.