How to Find the Time to Finish Your To-Do List
Use these six steps to set a course for achieving your goals.
It's pointless in my view to worry about time management and balance. I'm not interested in balance. I am interested in abundance in every area. I don't want to sacriﬁce one in favor of another.
Successful people think in terms of "all," whereas others tend to place limits on themselves. They may believe that "If I am rich, I can't be happy" or "If I thrive in my career, then I won't have time to be a good father, husband, or spiritual individual." This way of thinking is usually flawed, and neither time management nor balance can resolve it. Quit thinking in terms of either/or, and start thinking all and everything.
If you start with a commitment to success and then agree to control time, you will create an agenda that accommodates all you want. These six steps can help you get started.
1. Set specific priorities. I can't do this for you, of course. Everyone's priorities are different. But if success is a goal, then I would suggest you spend most of your time doing things that will create success. Success for you could involve a variety of people and things: ﬁnances, family, happiness, spirituality, physical or emotional well-being -- or, if you're like me, all of them. And remember, it can be all of them.
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2. Get everyone around you to agree on priorities. You'll need buy-in from your family, colleagues, associates, employees. Without it, people with different agendas can pull you in all sorts of directions. My schedule works because everyone in my life -- from my wife to the people who work with me -- knows what is most important to me and understands how I value time. This agreement allows us to handle everything else that comes our way.
3. Track how you spend your time. Most people have no clue what they do with their time but still complain that they don't have enough. If you don't know how much time you have -- or need -- how can you expect to manage it?
Logging your time, perhaps in a journal, will help you see all the ways in which you waste it -- the little habits and activi¬ties that in no way contribute to your success. Look at any action that isn't adding wood to your ﬁre -- think online poker, television, napping, drink¬ing. Brutal, isn't it? Yes, but if you don't manage your time, you will waste it.
4. Create a schedule based on your priorities. When our daughter was born, my wife and I built a routine around our daughter's sleep schedule and our priorities. We agreed that I would get up one hour earlier and take my daughter on an outing. I have qual¬ity time with my daughter before I go to the ofﬁce, and my wife has extra time to sleep.
When we get back, my day is mine for work. Because I get my daughter up so early, we can put her to bed before 7 p.m., and my wife and I have time together as a couple.
5. Look for ways to maximize your time. The only way to increase time is to get more done in the time you have. Consider the expression "time is money." What does it mean to you? How can you treat time to make sure your time is money? Think carefully about what's the most important thing that you should do with your time.
One way to get more done with your time is to simply find ways to increase your productivity. Another approach: Make it a race, a challenge -- make it fun.
Related: How to Avoid Entrepreneur Overload
If I get 15 phone calls done in 15 minutes and you get 15 calls done in one hour, then I have essentially created 45 minutes for myself. If I hire someone and pay that person $15 an hour to make 15 calls every 15 minutes, then I just duplicated my efforts -- and my time becomes money.
6. Continue to modify your priorities. Things will change through the course of your life. You achieve and set new goals. Different things and people enter your world. The busier you become, the more you have to manage, control, and prioritize.
When I became a parent, my daughter gave me another reason to create success -- not an excuse to avoid working. Our schedule will continue to change as my daughter grows up. But we are controlling our time rather than just haphazardly trying to manage it.
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