Time Management: What’s Your Priority?

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Do you feel overwhelmed when thinking about your schedule?  Is there so much busy-ness in your life that you feel like you can never catch your breath?  How is that some people seem to get so much done in 24 hours while others feel like they are constantly spinning in circles?  We all have the same 24 hours, so how do some people do it?

The first and most important step in time management is setting your priorities.  If you didn’t sit down either at the end of last year or the beginning of this year and set your goals for the year, don’t worry, it’s not too late.  However, it is extremely important that you take some time to this if you ever want to get on top of managing your time.  
In The Project Professional January Newsletter, I summed up how I approached my business and personal “annual review.”  This may be more complicated that you want or need to do at this time.  
What you do need to do is sit down and write out what IS important to you.  For example, my daily priorities include: 6-8 hours of sleep (8 preferred); at least 15 minutes of quiet meditation; at least 30 minutes of exercise (although 60 is preferable); eating healthy, whole foods as much as possible (which means I usually need to include extra time for food prep at least once or twice during the week); eating dinner with my husband; and enjoying the work I do.

After I finished my annual review, I sat down with my Google calendar (you DO have some type of calendar system, don’t you?) and plugged in check points throughout the year that reminded me of things I needed to do to meet the goals I had set.  I also scheduled any recurring events, such as when I’m going to write my blog, do my bookkeeping, my favorite group exercise classes, etc.  Our big vacations were also plugged in.  

Some of the activities I do that are flexible (like when I do my books) can be juggled around if need be, but the reminder is at least there, and with Google calendar all I have to do is drag and drop to reschedule the recurring event. 
As far as my day to day calendar, every Friday or Saturday I plan out my next week.  My recurring events are already programmed into my calendar, so my meetings with clients are easily scheduled around those events.  My husband and I sit down and plan out our meals for the coming week and make a shopping list.  Since cooking meals from whole foods tends to take longer than stuff that comes from a box or can, I put any extra prep/cooking time I might need into my schedule right then and there so I don’t accidentally forget.  I also schedule in any other work outs that I want to get in at this time.

One of the other things I love about Google calendar is the ability to color code your activities or different calendars.  I use different colors for work, exercise, travel time, food, bills due, and other special events.  This makes it super easy for me to see if I’m meeting my priorities for the day – did I schedule my workout?  Yes, there’s a yellow block of time marked off.  My husband also has his own color for his schedule and we’re able to merge our two calendars online and through our phones so we can both at any time view what’s going on for the whole family.

Google Calendar - Free Online Calendar

What does this all boil down to?  Professional Organizer Sara Pedersen puts it eloquently, “Let your involvement in activities be aligned with your goals, not by the open slots of your schedule.”  

If you find yourself running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you absolutely must take a bit of downtime and decide what your priorities are and fill your schedule from there if you ever want to really get a handle on your time.  Being busy does not equate to being productive – don’t confuse the two.

For other posts on time management check out the following:

Does saying NO mean you are lazy?

20 Ways to Say No

 Time Management Article Round Up ~ Lifehacker Edition

Scheduling Your Time More Effectively

Mastering recurring responsibilities

10 tips for time management in a multitasking world

~Tracy
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