“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
~ Lao Tzu
Time and money are two of the most coveted valuables in our culture. Although money seems like it might trump time, what good is money if you have no time to enjoy it? Similarly, the opportunities that time provides are arguably more significant; at the end of the day it is time well spent that provides life’s greatest joys. But how do we manage our time effectively with all that we have on our plate?
In order to stop the madness of not enough hours in the day, time management must become a vital practice so that we can juice all potential joy out of life. Contained within that time juice concoction is a dose of sanity, peace of mind and a priceless quality of life. While each of us has our own unique time management groove, there are some basic tenants that can be followed to derive maximum results from our efforts.
At some point you will need to make time to receive time. It is important to evaluate some key points in a typical day to observe where time might slip away as well as subtle changes that can be implemented to reduce unnecessary time spent. Keeping a journal of hours spent for a few days can be a valuable first step. Often, we don’t have a clear concept of exactly how much time we spend in any one area and we can’t change what we don’t know.
Once you have identified where all your time is spent, mapping out a plan for sacrifice is the next step on the time management journey. Sacrifice can be such a dirty word, but it really holds a great deal of power. To make a sacrifice is to give up something of value for something else of an even greater value. That sounds like a winning solution to me. It is about identifying what is truly important in your daily activities and what is not. One example might be to sacrifice 20 minutes of sleep for a 20 minute walk or run. 20 minutes of sleep is not a lot, yet 20 minutes of walking or running, especially outdoors, can clear the cobwebs from your mind and create the energy level necessary to move through your day with greater ease and clarity.
The sacrifices you make should be guided by your personal values and professional goals and those goals and values should be interconnected. Be clear and honest with yourself about what your personal values are and what your professional goals are and any areas where they are incongruent. If a personal value such as having adequate quality time with your family coexists with a professional goal of starting a new business it is important to thoroughly evaluate how to interconnect these goals and values. Starting a new business can be extraordinarily time consuming. Getting family members involved with the business by aligning and implementing their natural skills with tasks that must be completed will be an enriching exercise that brings your goals and values into congruency and therefore saving precious time trying to balance both.
It might take a week or two to really see the big picture and make all appropriate tweaks to your time. In the beginning, it may seem like you are utilizing more time than ever with all of the so-called time management activities. But remember, time creates time. In other words a few extra minutes (or hours) spent managing your time is a sacrifice that will produce extra minutes and hours going forward. Two hours spent today exploring tools to organize your time provides additional weeks, months and years of prioritized, systemized days with greater production and more time spent doing what is important and what you enjoy.
One final tip for you on your time saving exploration – if a particular activity comes into question as far as its level of importance, ask yourself this question: “Does this activity bring me closer to my goals and values or move me farther away?” I think you know what to do from there. Do you have some time management tips? We’d love to hear them.