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!
Why Do We Need 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.
That's because it's not about having unlimited time, it's about using the time we do have in the best way possible to get what we want out of life. It all starts with knowing what you want out of life. Which is one of the reasons why the LIFEguide app exists, to help you block out all the noise pulling you in different directions and figure out what is truly important to you. Once you have that information, managing your time gets a whole lot easier.
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, isn't it amazing what we can get done when there is a hard deadline looming? 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 almost 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. One tip is to block out 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 as we walk through how to do this.
Create A Schedule That Gives You Energy
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. You plan out 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.
Start With A Blank Calendar
Here are some steps to get you started to create a calendar you are excited about. Get a blank calendar, either paper or electronic. If you don't have one you can download our week-at-a-glance tool to get you started. Then take these steps to fill it up:
- Trust the process.
- Leave opening to bookend "have to" items with "want to" items.
- Add your priorities (such as health and relationships).
- Add your current responsibilities (such as work or school).
- Add reenergizing items (before and after draining ones).
- Review the remaining open times and chose how you want to spend them. Working on your dreams? Investing in your priorities? You choose.
- Fill any open times with "planning", "dreaming", "organizing", etc.
Add Your Priorities
Start filling in your empty calendar by putting recurring items in that revolve around your priorities in life. This could be working on a high priority dream, date nights with your spouse or significant other, time with family or friends, improving your health, etc.
Add Your Current Responsibilities And Reenergizing Items
Next, add in your current responsibilities. These may not be energizing, so make sure you add in those reenergizing items around them to keep you going and looking forward to each day. Think of it like a reward for getting all those responsibilities done.
Review the Remaining Open Times
Now for the fun part. Review the open times you have left, hopefully there is more open spaces than what you thought you would have. Often time we reactively fill our calendar with other peoples priorities instead of our own. When those are removed you will be surprised at how much time you have left to foucs on the items that are important to you. You get to pick how you spend this time. These open slots are a great time to focus on your dreams and goals in life. Or schedule them now for those items you never had time for before.
Tips and Tricks
Schedule Around Your Energy
When planning out your calenar make sure you schedule your high energy tasks on the days and times you have the highest energy. This might take a few days of tracking your energy to figure those out, but it will be worth it! Get those items that need the most energy scheduled at the 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.
Group Like Items Together
One of my favorite tips is to group like items together in your calendar. Get creative with your groupings. You can group by energy level, the mindframe you need to be in to do a tasks, or the type of taks itself. For example, if you have phone calls to make, group them all together. Same with meetings or focused computer time. Groupoing like items together will help you to get into the zone and stay there longer.
Use Your Calendar To Say No
You will be surprised at the amount of time and energy these seemingly small things will add to your life. Without a system in place 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, you can honestly reply that you are booked at that time.
Hopefully all these tips and benefits of an efficient calendaring system will help and give you the motivation and tools to take back your time.
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12 years ago, I created a tool that became the foundation of the LIFEguide system. I call it Dream, Focus, Win. I attribute much of who I am today to using it daily. If you want to achieve your dreams faster, now is the time to start!
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