Create a new relationship with time.
We are all leading busy lives and unfortunately it seems that they are getting busier each day. No matter what we seem to accomplish our list at the end of the day seems longer than the list we started with. If we answer 5 emails, there are 10 more to take their place. If we help one client, 3 more need something else. If we handle one family crisis, three more pop up.
So how do we handle all of this and feel good about what we accomplish at the end of the day?
The answer is in changing our relationship with time. Instead of trying to grab and hold on to time, or wish for a little more time, we can accept and make the most of the time we are given, and even learn to appreciate that time.
Let’s start with the understanding that there are only 24 hours in a day and we can’t steal more hours from anyone or anything. So how do we want to allocate our 24 hours? If we can accept that we can’t do everything, then we have to decide what we will do and what we want to do.
So let’s start with work. There are 24 hours in a day. Are you going to spend all 24 hours working? The answer is of course not. So then how many hours are you going to spend working? 16, 12, 10, 8? Pick a number. Let’s use 10 hours as an example. Now take control of time by understanding you are going to work 10 hours per day. So what you have to do is get everything done in that 10 hours. Rather than believing you can add 2 hours here or 2 hours there, understand you only have 10 hours to work and after that 10 hours is done you stop working and do something else.
A common response is, “I can’t stop working, I have to get it all done.” To take control of time, you have to recognize that you can never get it all done. You have to choose the most important items and make sure those get done.
So let’s talk about prioritization. If you only have 10 hours and you can’t add hours, then what do you have to get done in those 10 hours. Make a list of what you have to get done, and give everything a number from 1 to 100. 100 is your most important task and 1 is your least important task. There can be no duplicate numbers. You have to decide which items are the most important. See blog on $100 rocks for more detail.
Now you have a list, start with your biggest rock, the 100 priority, and get that done first thing. You may be able to complete the entire project or just take a small step, but do something to move forward on your 100 priority. Then start your 99 priority, then your 98 priority. Now we know you will not get to everything on your list, but if you can get the top 3 done every day, then you will be adding value at work each day. You can probably also move the top 3 forward in about 2 hours each day, which gives you the next 8 hours to work on other things with the confidence that you have already added your value for the day. Which also means, after 10 hours, you will be able to go home and take on the other phases of your life.
Let’s address some of the non-work phases of your life. Let’s start with sleep. When we get busy, and even sometimes when we are not busy, the first thing we tend to sacrifice is our sleep. Even just small amounts of sleep deprivation can cause irritability, lower your resistance to stress, and reduce your feelings of general healthiness. Lack of sleep also reduces your productivity and cognitive performance. Your brain categorizes what you learned the day before while you are sleeping, so a lack of sleep impacts your recall and ability to quickly solve problems. Most people need at least 7 hours of sleep per night to function at optimal levels. Don’t steal hours from your sleep.
The good news is with 7 hours of sleep and 10 hours of work, you still have 7 hours left in each day for a total of 35 hours on weekdays and another 34 hours on the weekend for a total of 69 hours each week. How do you want to spend that other 69 hours?
You probably need to allocate time for meals and/or spending time with children. You can build relationships by calling a different family member each day on the way into work. You can exercise for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. You can listen to music or a book on your commute home from work. You can schedule 4 or 5 dinners a week with your family or friends. Try spending 30 minutes each day taking a walk with your dog, spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend. Try spending 2 minutes each day being grateful for what you have or remember what was good about the day.
Don’t schedule every minute of every day. You need room to handle the unexpected and unplanned activities. Focus on getting a few important things done and then filling in your time with everything else.
Create a new relationship with time. Take control of it, instead of letting it slip away from you.