We all have the same 24 hours in a day. None of us can steal a minute here or there to get extra time. We all get the same 24 hours, the same 1440 minutes, and the same 86,400 seconds in a day.
In spite of that, many of us fret over time. We complain about the lack of time, and there are many who have written about time. “Time is money,” is a famous adage. Motivational speaker, Michael Altshuler, has said, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
The fact is, like it or not, we are all time managers, and the time we manage—or fail to manage—is ours and ours alone. I hear my clients complain frequently about never having enough time to do what they need to do. They have a never-ending list of tasks that never seem to get completed because they don’t have “time.” And while they fret about it, their level of stress mounts.
What’s the solution? Perhaps we need to take heed of what Michael Altshuler says: “You are the pilot of your time.” You are, in fact, the only person who can decide how to spend your time. If time management is stressing you out, here are five time management secrets to becoming less stressed if not completely stress-free.
1. Assess where you are spending (wasting?) your time.
When you need more money, you take a look at your financial budget, right? You figure out where the money is going, and then you figure out how to cut back on some things so you will have more money to spend on other things. Use this same strategy with time.
Create a time budget. Make a list of all the things you spend time doing in a day. Don’t forget to include things like updating your Facebook status, posting on Twitter, pinning on Pinterest, networking on LinkedIn, and talking on the phone. You get the idea.
Track your time for a few days in a time journal and be honest with yourself. Are you going down the Facebook rabbit hole for too long each day? It is way easy to do. Limit yourself to a specific amount of time every day for social media. If something critical happens to one of your friends or a member of your family, you will get a call… you won’t need to learn it on Facebook.
2. Limit the time you spend on e-mail.
I don’t know about you, but I get an inordinate amount of junk e-mail. It’s worse than the paper junk mail because I know to throw that stuff away. But somehow, an e-mail carries with it a greater sense of importance and urgency. I hate having unopened e-mail in my in-box. Not that I ever read it all… but I will check to make sure I don’t need to read it, and then I check it as “read.” Periodically, I get tough and start unsubscribing from e-mail suppliers that are bad about sending me junk.
If that strategy doesn’t work for you, create folders and place your less urgent messages in the folders for later. Don’t let e-mail become your time drain, however. It’s far too easy to do. You can start checking e-mail, and suddenly an hour has slipped away and you haven’t gotten started on the list of things you want to accomplish for the day.
3. Plan your day.
Having a plan for what you want to accomplish each day is important. Will everything go the way you planned? Probably not. So plan, but be flexible. It is a good idea to approach each day with a sense of purpose. Set goals for getting one, two or three specific things accomplished each day. As you accomplish each thing, give yourself a little cheer or a silent pat on the back. If you are a list maker, check it off your list, but don’t get compulsive about it. If you have to defer one of the things on your list until tomorrow because something more urgent came up today, that’s okay. You can handle that. There is always tomorrow.
4. Do one thing at a time.
I know, I know, you are thinking “Whaaat? Limit myself to only ONE thing at a time when I could multi-task!?!” The answer is “YES!” The truth is you are not good at multi-tasking even though you may think you are. You can only do one thing at a time if you hope to do it well. You will feel less stressed; you will be far more efficient, and you will have accomplished a lot more in less time if you focus on just one thing at a time. Trust me on this.
5. Avoid getting sucked into the office drama or politics.
Stay away from the office drama kings and queens…you know the ones I mean… they are always ready to dish on the co-worker down the hall. They know the latest on why the boss has been called to headquarters. They are always “in the know” and they are always only too willing and ready to fill you in. The trouble with these individuals is that they will also “share” information with others about you and your personal business if you are foolish enough to divulge things that they don’t need to know. If you need a confidant, find someone outside the office and steer clear of the people who generate upset around the office. They are a time drain for sure.
The main thing to remember about time management is what I offered at the beginning of this article. We all have the same amount of time. Some people seem to accomplish more with their time than others, but they didn’t find an extra hour somewhere or build in an extra couple of weeks to get ahead of the rest of us. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and the same 365 days a year. You may feel like time is slipping away from you, but the fact is you ARE the pilot of your time, and you CAN take control of it… starting right now.
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
About the author
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT is a Certified Life Strategies and Stress Management Coach and is an ICC at CareerHMO. Visit her coaching page here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CareerHMO coach. You can learn more about coach posts here.
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