Have you ever wished for a few more hours in the day? Why is it that some people seem to get everything done effortlessly and others feel that time constantly eludes them? The secret to managing your time well isn’t working more hours. It is about prioritizing the important things and learning to use the time you have more efficiently and effectively. The secret to make time for new healthy habits is working smarter, not harder.
Some of us, by nature, organize and get tasks out of the way before we relax, while others of us play first and work later. It is important to first recognize which type you are and whether your style is allowing you to have the life you really want.
Maybe you are super-organized at work, but burned out because you don’t know how to make time for yourself. If that is your case, exercising first thing in the morning and scheduling relaxing activities like yoga, meditation class or a spa treatment after work will be good to teach you the value of “me time”. Make strong commitments with yourself about when it is time you will leave work. Consider planning these activities with friends so you feel the need to leave work on time.
Perhaps you are naturally a less organized person who knows how to relax, but you are dissatisfied because you aren’t fulfilling your goals and dreams. For clients like you, I always encourage building routine by adding one healthy habit at a time. Put your new activity in your schedule (cooking dinnernightly for example) and honor it like a work commitment for 21 days. Create routine so there is more structure in your mind and lifestyle: same time, same days, place, etc. and di it until it sinks in.
When you are trying to learn new healthy habits or open space for routines like exercising, cooking or meditation, time management is a key. This is the first push back to start a healthy activity. I guide all my clients to consider if they are confusing relaxation with entertainment. If you are using the TV, video games and Internet surfing as a way to relax, think twice, you are still stimulating yourself in stressful ways. Change your point of view investing this time in truly fulfilling, relaxing or healing activities. You don’t have to stop TV all together, just take some of the minutes currently used for “numbing the mind” and devote them to goals and priorities. To stay motivated, create a healthy reward, like a massage, scheduling it on your calendar for a fun way to honor yourself with a gift of self love.
Rather than labeling yourself or beating yourself up, realize that time management is an area of your life that you can strengthen. Like a seldom used muscle, it takes practice and repetition to make it stronger. To help you get started, here are some steps to streamline your days at work and at home. Try the first one or two that jump out at you:
Take an inventory of your day first, and make note of every task you are doing for 3 days. Are there things that have no real value to you? What could wait? What can someone else do? Learn to negotiate your time to include things that truly matter to you, your health and family. For example, if you spend one hour watching TV daily, maybe cut it to 30 minutes and use the extra time to go for a walk. Taking a close look at how you spend your hours will give you clues on where to invest your time and what activities you can drop, delegate or cut in half
To help you get started, here are some steps to streamline your days at work and at home. Try the first one or two that jump out at you:
- Allocate time for planning and organizing. Decide when to build your calendar for the month or week.
- Consider your biological prime time: At what time of day do you work best? Plan to do your most important activity or the one you are likely to skip at that time.
- Create to-do lists that are realistic, not intimidating. Use only one to-do list with no more than 6 tasks.
- Under-schedule your time: Leave time for the unexpected and for interruptions. When you estimate how long something will take, add on a third of that time.
- Prioritize what is most important and do that first.
- If you say yes to everything that comes your way, learn to say no.
- Practice the art of intelligent neglect: Eliminate trivial tasks.
- Ask for help and delegate.
- In the evening make your to-do list for the next day, so it will be out of your brain and on a piece of paper
- Acknowledge yourself daily for all that you have accomplished.
As you strengthen your new time management muscle, keep your focus on getting organized so that you can live the life you came here for. Instead of being a chore, good time management can be your ticket to more fun, greater satisfaction and a vibrant, exciting life.