Someone much wiser than me said: Three things you cannot recover in life: the moment after it’s missed, the word after it’s said, and the time after it’s wasted.
We’re all busy and have crazy schedules. We have people pulling us in all directions. We have family and careers and pets and friends. Yet there are things we can do to help make more time for the things we want to pursue.
First, write down your goals and priorities and keep them visible. You need weekly, quarterly and yearly goals. Review and revise them often. Make sure you prioritize them. Are you truly committed to reaching the goal you wrote down? If not, you may need to mark it off the list right now or move it way down the list. Before you add anything else to your schedule, you need to determine if that will move you closer to one of your goals.
Once you set your goals, it’s time to take charge.
Set aside each day to plan. I do this in the evening before I go to bed. That way I have a good idea of what tomorrow will hold and what I need to get done. Some people like to get up and do it first thing in the morning. I make a daily “to do” list. It has work and personal items on it. I love the feeling of crossing things off my list. (Yes, I’ve even been known to add small things to it that I know I’ll accomplish easily and quickly, just to feel the satisfaction of crossing it off!)
Schedule your day. Block off the chunks of time you need to be able to get things done. Do you have a big project due? Try breaking it into smaller pieces. Spread the pieces out throughout your day or week. Sometimes looking at the whole project can be daunting, but smaller pieces make it more manageable and less intimidating.
Do you procrastinate? Why? Is it because you don’t like the project at hand? We all have some tasks that are necessary that we just don’t enjoy. However, if you think about the anxiety or pressure or guilt that will come from delaying the inevitable, you can push through. Create a reward system for yourself. If you can cross it off on time or ahead of schedule, treat yourself to a manicure or a walk around the park, or a nice lunch.
If you continually have a problem with time, the best thing you can do is to look for the root cause.
- Lack of a plan
- Lack of priorities
- Lack of initiative or motivation
- Over scheduled
- Never write anything down
- Inability to delegate
- Put off making decisions
- Doing what you like first, putting off other things
- Not finishing anything
- Unclear about the purpose or expectation
- Poor filing system
- Poor communication
Look over your list and pick out the top two things that are holding you back. See if you can come up with a solution. Make a weekly goal to work on it. Then at the end of the week, honestly assess where you stand. Make yourself accountable to you. Once you conquer that problem, go on to another but don’t allow old habits to slip back into play.