I used to feel like I had more things to do than hours in the day or week to do them. But one day an accountant friend of mine told me about managing time the same way you manage your finances – through budgeting. I thought, what an interesting idea – I could actually budget my time the same way I budgeted my money.
5 Ways to Seize Your Day and Get The Most Out of It
The first thing I needed to do was look at how my time was spent – the same way you look at every place your money is spent. Next, I needed to prioritize what activities required the most of my time and how much time I had left to spend on other activities. I also needed to decide if I could just let go of certain luxury, and/or unproductive, time-taking activities that were really just wasting important time in my life. It’s much like looking at all the unnecessary things you buy that you really don’t need and can certainly get along without. Same with your time – getting rid of nonproductive time spending activities frees up more productive time.
When I actually started looking at where I was spending my time, I found that I was spending more time than I realized doing unproductive activities like watching television, checking emails and surfing the internet everyday. Seeing where my time went on paper was a revelation. Then I wrote down 5 ways in which I thought I could swap time wasting activities with productive ones.
1. Time Budgeting. First, sit down and make a list, or keep a journal, for a week or 2 of where you’re spending your time. Write down the starting and finishing times. This can help you budget your time better. I budgeted 1 hour of “goof off” time a day, 20 minutes for emails, and 40 minutes to either read internet news, or watch it on television. I also budgeted 1-2 extra hours of “goof off time” every week to watch my favorite television show. The rest of my time was budgeted between work, family, friends, and goal accomplishments – everything important to me.
2. Priority setting/criteria matching. Everything I spent time doing everyday was prioritized into #1 importance, #2, etc. Next, everything I spent time on had to meet 3 goals – 1) Activity enhances my life, short term, or in the long run 2) Activity is teaching me a new skill or valuable information 3) Activity helps me, my spouse, my kids, someone important to me – reach a valuable goal.
3. Start the day right – exercise. I tell my patients the best way to start the day is with exercise. Make it a priority to get it done before you do anything else and before you run out of time as the day goes on. Plus, the biggest benefit is that it makes you start the day feeling great as it boosts your metabolism and stimulates your “feel good” brain hormones, even allowing you to think more clearly (helping you be more productive) throughout the day.
4. Make each day/week count – set goals. After I figured out how to budget my time, I was able to set goals for each day, each week, each month. Now, they don’t have to be monumental goals like learning a new language in a week, but even knocking off one thing from your “to do” list everyday, can help you feel less pressured and that you’re getting things done.
5. Someday doesn’t exist – start today. Whatever the thing is that you keep telling yourself you want to do “someday” is the very thing you should start devising a concrete plan of how to do today. You may think you should wait to start that business, or get back into shape, or take those continuing education classes for some future time. Yet, you have no control over the future and there may never be a better time.
Figuring out how to make the most of your time everyday helps you be more productive accomplishing the things you both need and want to do. It also really helps you just feel better physically and mentally, in many ways. Doing, rather than thinking about doing, lessens anxiety and depression that can creep in from feeling that you’ll never do all the things you want to do.
I always tell my clients, “There’s no time like the present”. The present is the best time to go after your dreams because, unless you make time for them, the routine of daily living will always manage to push your “someday” dreams further into the future.
Dale Brown, B.S., M.A., C.E.C.
Natural Health News