I often hear the phrase, “Why can’t there be more hours in a day?” or “If I just had more time I could get more done.” Many people wish we could just wave a magic wand and that would give us all the time we need to get everything done we want to do. I believe that even if we could make more time in a day, it wouldn’t solve our time crunch problem. Why? Because what’s at the root of the problem isn’t how much time is in the day, it’s that we don’t have our priorities straight or we haven’t even determined what our priorities really are.
Have you ever noticed that some people are able to get so much done in a day? How come others always feel flabbergasted and exhausted at the end of the day? When I work with clients the absolute first thing we have to do when it comes to time management is determining what is and what is not a priority. Is spending a couple hours per day on Facebook really going to help you accomplish your goals? How about those hours you spend in front of the tv? Even when it comes to work, does your family really need to have two incomes or is it more important to spend time with the kids during the day instead of putting them in daycare? These are the types of questions I encourage my clients to really think about before we put a time map together.
Yes, we all have obligations, yes, we’re all busy. But if you’re feeling the time crunch and you’re not sure what activities you can cut out, it’s time for a time audit. For at least a week, if not two weeks, keep track of exactly how, when, and why you’re spending your time. If you have a spouse or partner, see if you can’t get him or her on board with this project.
During this audit period or shortly thereafter you need to decide what your priorities in life are. What’s most important? Do you want to have dinner together 4 nights per week? Is it important that you spend other time together as a family? What activities do you want to occur in your home? What activities do you definitely NOT want to happen in your home? Sit down and make a list of what is really important.
The second step is recognizing the fact that it’s okay to say “NO”. This is a tough lesson for some people, pleasing others or feeling like you are contributing to society often feels like the most important thing. I would like to remind these people that it’s really hard to take care of others well when we’re not taking care of ourselves first and foremost.
Decide what’s important for YOU and the rest of the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.