Who’s stealing your Time???
Who doesn’t wish that there were an extra two or three hours in the day to just get everything done? One of the most pressing issues that we face daily is how to manage all the demands placed on us by work, family, friends and others, whilst also maintaining our health, well-being and emotional sanity.
It is all too easy to become victims of working too hard, playing too little, perhaps drinking too much and sleeping too poorly. No wonder we end up drawn out and stressed, feeling like we are barely surviving rather than living with passion. Whilst I am a big supporter of endeavouring to be more, do more, have more, give more, this cannot be to the detriment of our inner alignment and ensuring a fully balanced life.
How can we stop this vicious cycle of feeling constantly that there is not enough time?
The first place to start is to ask: “Where is my time going?”
To Do or Not To Do?
Do you start your day with a clear achievable plan of what you want in terms of results for your day? Or are you just blindly following your “To Do” list? I know that for much of my adult life I have let my To Do list be the dictator in my life. My To Do list is never satisfied; it is a hard task master and never acknowledges me.
No matter how hard you work during the day do you end the day feeling a sense of overwhelm with just how many things that there are still on your list?
So here is some bad news…there will always be too many things on your list to ever get finished. The good news though is that you can change how you view your To Do list so that you become master of it and use it to serve you in your life to get what you want.
The first place to start is to use Steven Covey’s time management matrix (from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) to assess what is important to you and how you are spending your time.
So create a table like the one below with 4 boxes labelled as shown in the diagram. Re write all your To Dos in each of these 4 boxes depending on each task’s level of urgency and importance.
Like most people you will probably find that most of your To Dos are in quadrant 1 whilst those tasks in quadrant 2 (those what will make a positive difference in your life) perhaps keep getting moved from one To Do list to another e.g. update CV, write chapter of my book, create business plan, organise “date night”, go to new yoga class etc.
One of the key ways to feel a sense of accomplishment every day is to look at your To Dos daily and pick at least one thing from quadrant 2 and make sure that you take one step towards completing the task each day. This way you know that you are moving forward and step by step making a difference in your life.
Where Does Time Go?
How can we ensure that there is enough time to get done some of the things in quadrant 2?
One important exercise is to start monitoring how you are actually spending your time. This will help you to raise your awareness to see if you are getting results or simply “being busy”. It is very easy to be the latter so start by splitting your day into 15 minute slots and use the same quadrants you have created previously to note down how you spend your time.
If you are like me when I did this exercise I was amazed by just how much time was spent in quadrants 3 and 4. These are areas where time can be regained as To Dos in quadrant 3 and 4 can often be ditched as they are either other people’s agenda, or it is simply wasting time (e.g. filing, cleaning, meetings without purpose etc). If you want time to do things in quadrant 2 note how you spend your time and start to limit or entirely stop doing these To Dos in quadrants 3&4.
You can only improve that which you measure.
Small steps pursued consistently lead to massive change. Learning how to manage your time is a key skill to master, to help you feel more fulfilled each day and enjoy a sense of well-being and achievement.
Try these two small steps for the coming week (review your daily To Do’s using the Covery time matrix model and monitor how you spend your time), and see what a difference it makes to you.
As always awareness brings its own rewards and note what happens this week when you do these exercises.
My own experience is that by monitoring my time and making sure that every day I do something from quadrant 2, I have found myself becoming more efficient and less distracted by activities in quadrant 3&4. Over time I have learnt to spend less time in fire-fighting mode and more time focused on really moving my life forward and spending it doing what I love.
Certainly by making and spending time doing things that are important to you, life feels less “busy” and you start generating positive results in your life helping you to feel more fulfilled and stay aligned to your highest purpose.
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