Take Back Your Time!

Why Does This Matter?
The NUMBER-ONE question people ask as they start this journey is “Where do I find the time?”.  But a more useful question is “How do those that accomplish so much in life make the time?”  That is a question we can answer!

What Is Time Management?
If we all had unlimited time, we could do everything we are currently doing plus everything we’ve ever want to do.  Sadly, we don’t.  But neither do all those other people we see doing so much in life.  It’s about using the time we do have in the best way possible to get what we want out of life.

Think about a trip you’re preparing for.  Have you ever noticed times where you got a ton of stuff done in a short amount of time? First, it’s amazing what we can get done when there is a hard deadline looming, and second it shows a life law in action. If a day was magically added to your week you would still get  the same things done, but just expand over that extra day. The same if you have 30 minutes or an hour to get a report done. If you have an hour, it will take that hour most every time. That’s Parkinson’s law, which states “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

So, we must have things in place to hold back this expansion.  And one tip is to schedule every minute of every hour of every day in your calendar. FILL IT TO THE BRIM.  I know that sound daunting but stick with me for a second.  

First, we are used to only scheduling those things we “need” to do, which can drain our energy.  What I’m talking about is creating a calendar that gets you excited and gives you energy.  

Think about planning your dream vacation; where you want to eat, what you want to see and do—that’s not draining at all. It’s fun. It gives you something to look forward to and has even been shown to reduce your stress levels. THAT is how you should look at scheduling your time each day. Now we know there are going to be the “have to’s” on everyone’s calendars, and some (or all) of those items might not be exciting or energizing. BUT, since YOU are the one who gets to create your schedule, YOU are also the one who gets to surround those items with things that re-energize you.

So, here are some steps to get you started:

First: Start with a blank calendar and a list of those things that are most important to you in life, such as your values, your dreams, those areas of life you want to prioritize or improve, or relationships you want to nurture.  Get those recurring items on your calendar that will make sure that a year from now you will be pleased with those things you care about most in life.

Second: Fill in your responsibilities, which may not be energizing, and them make sure you mate them with reenergizing items to keep you going and looking forward to each day.   

Third: Schedule high energy items on high energy days.  Get those thing that need the most energy at times you feel the most powerful or creative.  And it’s the same with tedious work that needs done.  Make sure that’s scheduled at time you are lower on energy.  Don’t use your high-energy days for low-energy work.

Fourth: Start grouping like items together in your calendar, so you are matching energy.  For example, if you have phone calls to make, group them all together.  Same with meetings or focused computer time.  Try to get into the zone with each one by letting your scheduling help.  

You will be surprised at the amount of time and energy these seemingly small things will add to your life.  Without a system like this we end up with “Pin the tail on the donkey” calendaring were we just find an open spot and put something there, not thinking about whether it is a good spot, but just that it is an open spot.  Which, again, is another great reason to fill that calendar to the brim as it makes you think more about scheduling things in, as you must make a more visible exchange in your life to do it, and it gives you an easy out, when asked by others if you have time to do something, as you can honestly reply that you are booked at that time.  

Hopefully all these tips and benefits of an efficient calendaring system will help with the daunting thought of filling your calendar up, and give you the motivation and tools to take back your time.