Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Managing Your Time

First off, you cannot manage actual time.  It's going to move forward, at its consistent pace whether we want it to or not.  You can't slow it down, you can't speed it up, and more than anything else, you can't ever get it back once it's gone.  That being said, what we do have working for us, is that everyone has the same amount of hours in the day to do what they will with.  No one is "luckier" than you, in that they have more hours in a day.
So, how come some people manage to get groceries, laundry, birthday cards, work, and their sock drawer organized all in one afternoon?  It's not because they don't have two jobs like you might.  It's not because they don't have three kids to chase after.  It's not because they don't go to school full time, while working part-time.
It's because they don't allow themselves to be overwhelmed.  They know their limits, but also know very well what they are capable of.  They are realistic.  They set a clear plan for the day, but don't over think it or spend an hour on it either.  They keep things simple, direct, and practical.  Sound too simple?
I have a friend who at one time was only in college for half the day, three days out of the week, living at home with his parents.  He worked part-time.  Nothing too out of the norm.  But, what was odd to me at the time, was how often he would complain about never having enough time to study, to do his laundry, to eat breakfast, to spend quality time with the girlfriend he had at the time, and countless other items on his "I totally would if I could" list.
The reason it became even stranger to me is because ten years later, he is happily married with a few kids, full-time career, belongs to a networking group, works on side projects, and spends quality time with his immediate and extended family.  He is many times busier these days than before, yet he manages to get more done in a single day than he did back then in a week.
He didn't discover a time genie that has been hidden from us all these years.  What happened is that somewhere along the line, things just clicked mentally, where he was able to manage his life in a different manner.  As we get older, different things are important to us.  These things tend to impact the type of actions we take.
But you don't have to wait until something clicks, or until more falls on to your plate  to get started.  The following list can you help you start having more effective, and accomplished days.
Some people will tell you to plan your day first thing in the morning, but what tends to happen is severe lack of motivation as soon as we wake up.  That is a whole other topic of discussion in itself, but suffice it to say, planning the night before leaves you with a set of tasks all ready to go first thing in the morning.  About an hour before bed, after you have relaxed and are just about settled for the night is a great time to do it. 
Planning the night before works great because there's no guess work, or time needed to sort it out.  It's a simple, yet effective, mechanism for getting you in the right state of mind to tackle the day.
A good rule of thumb to follow when there are several things you need to get done, is to prioritize through the importance, and other times, the size.  For example, suppose you have to do groceries, write a paper, mail off a letter, and pick up dinner for the house.  If that paper is due tomorrow, knock it out right away.  All the other things can be done in one swoop after the other.
If that paper is due 3 days from now, take the first part of the day to get all of the smaller and easier  things out of the way.  It doesn't have to be complicated, just practical to your situation.
You know that saying, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself"?  Well, some people take that to an extreme.  We've all been guilty of it at some point I'm sure, but it actually can be one of the most inefficient methods. 
If we take the time to show someone how we would like something done, answering any of their questions along the way, it can be extremely helpful in the big scheme of things.
Do not get sucked into the idea that "it's just faster and easier if I do all the cleaning".  Even your four year old can be a valued assistant in picking up their room, or your 11 year old with putting the dishes away.
One of the best practices I've come across in the work place as it relates to paper work, was that if you touch it you have to do it.  All of the sudden, paperwork that was being put aside for later, was now getting completed way ahead of schedule.  This frees up time to work on other things you're more interested in.
To the same effect, have you ever walked towards your bedroom as you are getting ready to turn in, walk by your dinner table and noticed a lone dish, or a couple of legos lingering on the floor? Maybe even a straw that didn't make it into the trash can? If it bothers you when you notice it, think of how annoying it's going to look in the morning.  Just take care of it then and there.
Little quick instances like these are worth it. Try it!
You have a full time job that you are trying to get out of.  You are still dabbling between getting into photography, or becoming a web designer.  At random moments during the day or weekend, you do something related to these two major interests of yours - but it doesn't seem to be moving you closer, or fast enough, to what you are aiming for.  Why? Because, the majority of the time you need to be more persistent and constant.
Something that can make a huge difference is scheduling very specific times after work to work on these interests - kind of like treating them as scheduled classes or workshops that you paid for.  You HAVE to go, right? Even if you aren't in the mood when it's time to do these things at that particular time, your sticking to it only aids in advancing you towards your goal at a much faster rate.
We are 100% focused on our goal.  We planned our day the night before, prioritized our tasks, and are delegating to free up our time to handle more important tasks.  We are taking care of tiny quick things along the way if we notice them, so they don't get in the way later. We are sticking to our scheduled times for whatever we are trying to accomplish. Focused. 
You have to stay on it, busy with passion, to achieve great things, but you also don't want to miss out on what could very well be some irreplaceable, sweet memories.  You just finished dinner, after a long day at work, and you're tired, but amped to work on your side project.  As your creative juices run through your veins as you head down to your work area, you come across this wide eyed little person, saying they missed you, and would like a bedtime story. 
Do NOT pass up on things like this.  It could be a family member who randomly asks you meet up for lunch, or a coworker who wants your advice on something, or even a complete stranger who is sharing a story - there is possibility in EVERYTHING. 
One of the funniest things about life, is how sometimes it will bring up these random moments, and unbeknownst to us, will actually be of help in some way we never even thought of. 
Here's to getting more out of your day - both efficiently, and randomly!

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Lover of Family, Life, and Possibility. Creative Soul. "Stop Thinking You Can't, and Start Knowing You Can." Reach out to me, and let me know how I can help!


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