I live a complete life. A great portion of my daily exploits focuses on the needs of others. I recognize that I am called to be a helping hand, but I also know when to step back and focus on what is important to me.
In my family life, I cater to the needs of my children. They are dependent on me to provide, guide, and support. I take that role seriously and I know that I am loved for it.
I also recognize that time for myself is essential.
I acknowledge the importance of satisfying my needs. When I feel like my life is off balance, I know it is time to pull away from current concerns and find my center.
When I feel a desire for renewal, I let my loved ones know that I need a time out. I am happy to have a family that understands the need for balance and glad that they’re willing and able to let me take some time for myself.
Today, I commit to having a balanced life, focusing equally on those I love and myself. I make time to strengthen my own well-being and renewal, knowing that taking care of myself enables me to be all I can be – for myself and those I love.
1. Do I ever allow myself to get burned out and exhausted?
2. Have I spent time teaching my children how to bring balance into their lives?
3. How can I make more time for myself?
Time is one of the most valuable commodities in our lives, and it’s one that shows no bias. Heck, even a famous billionaire only gets 24 hours in a day.
And, I don’t know about you, but even when I have the best of intentions and plans for using every minute of my time effectively, I find myself slipping into a very common trap.
My mind, it wanders.
Do I have a text message? I wonder if I have any new email. How many visitors have been to my website in the last hour? The list goes on–and I’m sure yours does too.
But as we all know too well, this amazing technology that connects us can also be our undoing, if we’re not careful.
How much time does this stuff take, really? So, you only spend 10 minutes a day on email? Get this: a mere 10 minutes of time each day, 5 days a week, is equivalent to a 40-hour workweek each year.
That’s right–an entire week. Can’t get your reports done on time? Now you know part of the reason why. Lost time adds up.
Don’t lose momentum.Pulling away from your regular work to check your email costs you more time than just what you use to pull up your email account and read.
You still have to get back on track when you’re finished with the email. You may lose your train of thought, lose your place in the memo you were reading, or misplace something.
Even worse, you may forget what you were doing in the first place. You know what happens next.You respond to that email or text and then you have to keep checking back to see what their response is–sometimes, it never ends.
So how do you make effective changes?
Remember that it can wait. Most people can get away with checking their personal email once a day. Me, I have to check it a bit more often, but I try to do it at scheduled intervals.
Texting can be done the same way, if it works for you.
These types of distractions are seldom critical; if someone’s message does happen to be critical, they’ll find a way to get through to you. If you’ve got kids, be sure to let their sitter or school know how to reach you in an emergency.
Schedule it. As I mentioned, I set aside specific times each day to check on all of those little distractions. Maybe you’ll choose to only deal with email at the end of the workday or only text for 10 minutes before bed.
Whatever you’re perpetually curious about, set aside some time each day to address it that works for you. To maximize your efficiency, all you have to do is stick to the schedule.
Inform people. If everyone knows that you only look at email between 4:45pm and 5:00pm, they’ll call you if they need to communicate something really important. If it’s not really important, they might not send the email at all. This might even mean less work for you.
Additionally, you’ll find that people won’t bother you with text messages during the day if they know you’re not going to answer them anytime soon. With less stuff to distract you, you’ll be able to better focus on your work.
It’s not selfish–it’s self-preservation.
We all have little things we do to waste time. Some of those are curiosity-based and often the most challenging to ignore. Acknowledge the amount of time it costs you each year – time that you can never get back – time that could be more effectively utilized.
Most things can wait. Consider how often you really need to check these distractions and make a schedule for them. By informing the appropriate people of your plan, you can be sure they’ll adapt and nothing critical will be missed.
Take back control of your time. You can, and you’ll be so much happier if you do.
What are your best ideas for taking control of your time? Share them in the comments section, below.
I always joke that I wasn’t born with the logic gene. I tell people that, regardless of my obvious intelligence (insert wry grin here), logic is something I’ve had to learn over the years.
Besides dealing with my uncanny ability to get lost in a paper bag, my other big challenge is getting and keeping my time organized. Like many right-brained people, I tend to get easily distracted.
It could be that the daydreams still take over occasionally. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m always trying to do fifteen things at once…or it could be that I happen to have the luxury of working from home (and that I happen to have very loud and demanding children for whom I’m very grateful.) Or maybe it’s the fact that Facebook calls my name when I get bored.
(Oh wait, did I just get distracted?)
I’m not sure–but whatever it is, time management is something that I’ve always had to intentionally implement in my life.
Why do I care? I mean, shouldn’t I just let myself wander through life, being creative at my every whim? Isn’t time management going against my true divine desires? Do I have to become a slave to the clock?
Nope. Time management is one of those things that some consider a necessary evil.
I, on the other hand, consider it a true gift–because without it, I couldn’t be who I want to be. Because my pursuit of fulfillment involves more than one focus–because there are many areas in which I’d like to rock, obviously.
So how can a creative soul manage time effectively? And does it have to suck?
Time Flies When You’re Having Fun (Or Not)
Where is your time going? Do you really know? The first step to organizing your time is to get a clear idea of exactly what you’re doing.
Get a small notebook and sketch a little time table. Divide it into three segments: morning, afternoon, and evening. For five days, carry the notebook with you. (If you’ve got mad texting skills, feel free to use your Crackberry, cell phone or PDA instead.)
At the end of each time segment, record your activities and the amount of time spent on each. For example, a morning segment might begin like this: Sleeping in, 30 minutes. Shower, 15 minutes. Grooming, 45 minutes. Getting kids ready, 30 minutes. Breakfast, 10 minutes. Commuting, 45 minutes…and so on.
At the end of five days, take a serious look at how your time is spent. Could you be doing more, or are you doing too much? You might be surprised to find that you spend more time procrastinating and preparing to get things done than actually doing them.
And before you say it–yeah, I know this doesn’t come naturally to creative minds. Just do it anyway. It won’t kill you–in fact, I’d be willing to bet it helps you figure all this stuff out.
Set Your Priorities
What are your priorities? The next step is to determine exactly what you need (and want) to accomplish. Take a few minutes to list your day to day responsibilities and goals. Give each a rating from one to three, three being most significant. Use this rating to determine what’s worth your time and what isn’t.
You may find that some of the things you thought were priorities actually aren’t all that important. Don’t be afraid to say “no” once in awhile. You’re not the only one who can organize that committee or host that party. When it comes to your home and family, you are allowed to ask for help. Delegate chores to your children or spouse, or even hire outside help if necessary.
Make a List
Yeah, I said it. Even creative souls can benefit from making lists. According to J. Robin Powell, PH.D., author of The Working Woman’s Guide to Managing Stress, list making alone can reduce stress levels.
Each night before you go to bed, make a simple list of what you plan to accomplish the next day. Don’t go overboard. It’s important that it is actually possible to accomplish your goals.
You can also keep a working list of more time-consuming (and less immediate) projects, like painting your office or rebuilding your website. Make a point of completing one project from this list each week, and be sure to update it often.
You’ll sleep like a baby knowing that you’re already organized for the next day.
Commit to a Plan
I know it sucks, but planning is absolutely necessary. Get an appointment book or use your cell phone to record daily, weekly, and monthly activities. I like to use my Outlook calendar and a plain old list on a Word document (since I work in front of a computer all day.)
For your day to day matters, plan like activities together. For example, plan to run all of your errands in one afternoon. This will help you to avoid running in circles (thus, saving time.)
But remember, flexibility counts! Expect unplanned interruptions or events, and be willing to change your schedule if necessary to focus on what’s important. Have a back up plan.
And speaking of focus, try to avoid dividing your attention. You’ll just end up with a bunch of unfinished masterpieces–which, in layman’s terms, means you’ll end up with nothing done.
I know that multitasking is necessary these days. But when it’s important, turn off your cell phone and focus on one thing at a time. You’ll get more done, and you’ll feel less stressed. (And feeling good is what it’s all about!)
Organize Your Stuff
Creative types are notoriously disorganized. But here’s the deal…you don’t have to measure your level of organization by anyone else’s standards. Just know where everything is, and be able to access it easily.
Like your mom used to say, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
Be sure your home, your car, and your office are as orderly as possible. Organization promotes a sense of well being and helps you to feel more in control.
And remember, it takes time to make time. Time spent organizing is an investment in yourself. If you find that things are already out of control, schedule several evenings or a weekend to do a good once-over to put everything in order.
Throw out or give away what you don’t want or need, then organize the rest. After that, do a little each day to keep it together. If you’re having trouble getting started, Flylady.net offers a free home management system that is ideal for the logically challenged.
Aside from taking necessary inspired action, you gotta keep your head in the right place. Focus on staying positive and owning your desires. Need some help getting there? Don’t worry, friends. As always, I’ve got your backs.
Give It a Shot
So are you in? Can you do it? My challenge to you today is to take one step toward managing your time more effectively. Even a tiny step can be the beginning of significant positive change in your life. What do you think?