Do you know what it means to take back your time? Have you ever experienced something shifting in your life, ever so slowly over weeks or maybe even over a month or two, to the point where you have come completely derailed by the time you noticed it?
I am always amazed at the snowball effect. You know, when something small gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger until there is a giant snowball blocking my path. I am always left wondering, “How did I not notice this happening?!”
Has this ever happened to you?
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In all honesty, I wish I had an answer for the how. But, the how doesn’t really matter in all reality. It is only the “how am I going to fix this?” that has any bearing in my life. In this way, it pays to be intentional.
Earlier this year, it became overwhelmingly clear that I had gotten off track in managing my time. Actually, rather than managing my time I had been piddling away my time. This meant I was losing focus on the things I already knew to be true.
I once wrote about 10 Common Time Wasters. But, I found that I had been committing nearly every one of these infractions. Basically, I was guilty of nearly all ten. As you can imagine, this wasn’t working well for me because I never had enough time in my day.
Of course I knew of all these time wasters. Yet, it was the snowball effect that caught me off guard. My time here and there was being spent mindlessly doing something. But, those moments here soon grew into a few more moments there. Once I really stepped back and looked at my day, I saw a large snowball of wasted moments….wasted.
Ugh. It gets worse.
In addition to wasting my time, I took my time for granted. I have always had many demands on my time. But for various reasons, I don’t think there has ever been more time demands on my time in my life than there are right now. For this reason, I need to be more focused than I have ever been at being a good steward of my time.
With these needs in mind, I have taken a step back over the past couple of weeks and really honed in on five things that allowed me to take back my time.
If you are looking to make the most of your time, then take back your time!
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1. First, re-examine what needs to happen in what order
Examine no more than 20 projects on your list (I hope you are writing your projects down. You can read about Why I Make Lists) and determine what order things need to be done in. If you have never done this, you should. I simply put a number in a circle next to each thing. Of course, I cross the tasks off when they are completed.
2. Next, refocus on your goals
Make sure that your goals spell success. There is nothing worse than failing at what you want to do simply because your goal was destined to flop right from the start.
3. Third, put the things you need more brain power to complete first in your day
Remember how I wrote about doing this same thing when laying out my day? Not only do I prefer to get the things I don’t like out of the way early, but I also want to tackle the more difficult things first when I am fresh. If you work better at night, be sure to put your brain power activities then.
4. Fourth, give yourself time limits to work on things
This is especially true when you have things that you don’t like to do. To do this, you can even set a timer. If you are like me, the pressure of the ticking clock really makes me focus and get down to business. Being under a time limit forces me to be as effective as I can possibly be. This allows me to actually get more done than if I didn’t have the timer in the picture.
When the task is something I don’t like doing, I also like being able to look at my timer and know that I only have x number of minutes left. For this reason, time limits can be a life saver.
5. Finally, and I am about to say something daring here…
Turn off all the alerts on all your electric devices. If you don’t know there’s something going on, you won’t feel the need to “just check it real quick.” I am guilty of this one, too. But, I have had my alerts turned off for several months. It is amazing at how I don’t miss those little dings although I thought I would.
What is most incredible about this, however, is how much less time I spend mindlessly perusing through Facebook or emails. In this way, this might be the most important of the five things listed here.
It is true that life is so busy, but we are the only ones who can protect our time. If you are like me, I would bet that you can implement part of all five of these tips today. If you tackle all five at one time, you will be amazed at how much more you can get done in a day. Being efficient, being smart, and being intentional with our time will give you more time to enjoy the things and people you love.