Time is a funny thing. It comes. It goes. And you seem to never have enough of it. (The same could be said for a lot of things). But lately, time seems to really be, as the Steve Miller Band sings…”slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future.”
Distractions are everywhere, from work projects, to family obligations, to the little things we get sucked into to avoid what really needs to get done. You know what I’m talking about – those activities that consume us and serve only to pass the time. For me, those activities include things like TV, surfing the internet, and social media.
One thing I learned long ago when time was more precious to me than even money was that in order to get the things done on my to-do list that really mattered, I needed to guard my time wisely. But when we are in the midst of avoiding and allowing ourselves to be distracted, it’s hard to manage our time. We get swept into believing that there isn’t enough time when in reality we are not using the time we have (which is the same amount as everyone else) productively. It’s important to first take a step back, a time-out if you will, to really take a look at what’s going on.
Here’s some ideas to help you do just that – things that have worked for me in my pursuit of more time (aka less overwhelm and more stuff crossed off my to-do list):
- Take a good look at where you are really spending your time. You can do this by creating a visual representation of your time. Take out a piece of paper (or open up a new document on your computer – in a word processing or spreadsheet program). Down the left side of the paper, divvy out time into 15 minute increments, from the time you wake until the time you go to bed. Next to each time on the right side, write down what you actually are doing. Keep this paper with you throughout the day and periodically write down all your activities. Do this for a week. You might be surprised (or not) at where your time goes. But with it all written out before you, you certainly cannot deny where it’s all going.
- Write down your top three priorities. These can be anything (or anyone) important to you. Keep this list where you can see it and especially near areas where you seem to spend unproductive time (like the TV or computer). Put the list as a screensaver on your computer or the wallpaper for your phone. Look at it often to help keep you on track.
- Give yourself a break. Another thing I learned a long time ago (the hard way) is that expecting myself to be “productive” all the time is the fastest way to burnout. Now I take regular breaks and physically walk away and change my scenery at least 2 to 3 times during my work day. It is on my calendar just as any other important appointment would be.
Remember, while time may seem to be slippin,’ you do have control over what you do with your time. Sure there are going to be times when your time is consumed by certain tasks. That’s a normal part of life. But if you notice you have the same things on your to-do list that aren’t getting crossed off, chances are it’s less about how much time you have and more about how you are spending it.
Got some other ideas on how to make the most of your time? I’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.
Just for fun: listen to “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band…
Photo: Clock © by Svadilfari