Time is strange commodity. We often talk of saving time, spending time, running out of time, or not having enough time – as if time were money in a bank account. The reality is that we each receive a check for 24 hours each day. No one is given any more or less than anyone else. It can be neither saved nor stored. It must be used, all of it, every day.
The big question of life is: are you going to invest your time wisely, or waste it frivolously? Time management is nothing more than focusing on this all-important question. Some people shun the thought of time management because they think it means they have to work all of the time or be productive every minute. That’s not it at all. Time management is simply deciding what you value the most, and then spending your time on those things. Spending the day at the lake with your family, for example, can be an excellent time investment. It all depends on what you have decided in advance is your highest priority.
The most life-changing thing you will do is to sit down with yourself and write out what your highest priorities are. Then, plan goals, activities, and events that will support those things that you value most. This might take you several hours at the beginning, and as much as an hour per week going forward. But, it will change your life! Make your plan balanced and achievable. Plan for all areas that are important to you: from professional development to recreation, family, financial, social, and spiritual. Set aside chunks of time that you can invest in the most important things to you. With your priorities and your plan in mind, frequently ask yourself: what is the best use of my time right now? And then do it.
Most people never take the time to make this critical investment in themselves. As a result, they wander through life, unconsciously frittering away their valuable time on useless, meaningless activities.
For example, the average American today watches 44 hours of television per week. Think about that. That’s more time than most people spend on the job. Now for the most startling fact: most of that time is spent watching something that they don’t even like or enjoy. That’s right. Many get so trapped in the TV habit that they spend much of their time flipping through channels looking for something, anything, to watch. I’m not saying that TV is bad. There are some great programs. The key to television is to use your power. If you will look on your remote control, there is a button that says POWER. When you have a quality program that you want to see, use your power and watch it. When it is over (and this is the most important skill) use your power again, and turn it off. Channel surfing is the biggest time waster of all.
Experts agree that much of our time is wasted on unproductive activities. Generally speaking, 80% of our results come from only 20% of our activities. Here is a list of other time-wasters that can sabotage your efforts to spend your time on the most important thing.
- Telephone interruptions
- Drop-in visitors
- Unscheduled meetings
- Crises / Urgent Tasks
- Coffee-pot socializing
- Lack of clear goals
- Ineffective delegation
- A cluttered desk
- The inability to say NO
- Lack of self-discipline
- Unclear communication
Ultimately, you have complete control of your life – how you will act, what you will think, and how you will spend your time. But we often let outside forces take over to set our objectives, limit our choices, and plan our day. Use the tools in this article to break through these constraints and take charge of your own life. It will lower your stress, reduce anxiety and guilt, and increase your happiness and productivity. Try it, what have you got to lose?