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“Do ye value life? Then waste not time, for that is the stuff out of which life is made. —Benjamin Franklin”

Whenever we read about how to manage our time or the importance of doing so, I am pretty sure there is a collective eye-rolling session.  – not another time management blog! “I know. I know. You don’t have to tell me that I need to manage my time. I know all about the benefits of doing so as well as the consequences of not managing my time well.” Whenever I read about time management it seems like it is something that only super organized people do and I certainly do not fit into that category.

Many times I have tried to get organized and you probably have as well. I have had calendars and day planners that made me think like I was organized. But we all know the drill, don’t we?  We go all out trying to plan our days using our organization tools complete with stickers and highlighters. And then, somewhere down the line, life takes over. We let things slip. and then before we know it, we are no longer in control of our life or our time.

Calendars and day planners are all good and useful tools, but they will not manage our life and time for us. They will not do our thinking, our prioritizing and decision making in our place. To really make a dent in our disorganized mess what we need to do is change our thinking. We can not stand like a deer in headlights trying to figure out how to finally get it all together. We will never get it all together until we get our thoughts together.

As I was looking for books to buy, I came across a little book called Master Your Time in 10 Minutes a Day by Michal Stawicki. In this very short, but clearly written book, the author brings together the wisdom of several well-known leaders and thinkers on the subject of time management and breaks the nuggets of wisdom into short chapters that give applicable information for each nugget. Below I have listed several of these “nuggets.. The title of the book is attractive because it makes it seem like mastering our time is an easy thing to do and it will only take 10 minutes a day. But what we also need to understand is that it is really about 10 minutes a day of good thinking and proper perspective that will help us to master our time. So, without further ado, here are 8 tips to “master your time.”

Do What Is Important

Many are familiar with Leadership author Steven Covey’s decision quadrant with the four possibilities: important, urgent, not important and not urgent. When it comes to our time, we are either in control of it or someone else is. The point of this quadrant is to show that there are four options and our decision will be based on what we feel is important to us at any given time.

Not everything that is urgent is important and not everything that is important is urgent, but, ideally, if we have a clear idea of our priorities and goals, it will be easier for us to focus on what is important for us and not give in to the pressure of others deciding for us what we need to be doing.

Don’t Waste Time on Time Wasters

What is eating away at your time? We all have something – our “little pleasures”. I still do. I love to watch educational Youtube videos and I often don’t realize the time that has passed. What could I have been doing instead? Of course, I don’t spend endless hours watching youtube, but I do block some time just for this activity in the evening. If I were to add up the hours spent on youtube over one month. I am sure I would be unpleasantly surprised.

We all have those insidious timewasters in our lives and maybe it is time to Lasoo and corral them in and classify them into the waste can. We could begin by asking ourselves what value these activities bring to our lives. Are they helping us to live better or be a better person? Are they helping us to build better relationships and enjoy our time with people we love? The author is very blunt when it comes to wasting time. He says:

 

Killing time is suicide in installments… if you are not actively living, actively growing, you are dying.

Do Something Each Day

In this nugget category, the author talks about the importance of consistency. You have probably noticed how hard it is to get back into the swing of things on Monday morning after the weekend or after a vacation. That is because momentum has been lost. It can take us some time to “catch up” again. Now, before you go thinking that I am suggesting that you take your work home with you or on vacation – hold up! I am simply saying that we need to do something, anything, that will move us forward and not backward each day. Could you, for example, have a consistent reading program where you seek to grow or learn something new? Could you have a 30-minute a day language program to learn a new language? I actually do this. I do 1 hour a day of Spanish. It is not important what you do, but it is important that you be consistent day in and day out.

Work in Manageable Chunks

It can be daunting to look at a big project or task. An enormous task might seem discouraging   because it just seems too big, Raising children is also a daunting task, but parents don’t usually look at 18 years all at once; they do their job one day at a time because that is all they can do. This same analogy can be used to see a big project like a process. The goal is to complete the task, but there can be many steps along the way. Why not break down the job into smaller chunks that are more manageable and can be easily accomplished? Something we can do is to break it down into bullet points or a checklist. Doing this will transform the task from vague and overwhelming to precise and doable.

Have A Short To-Do List

If we are going to do anything, we first need to know what we are going to do. Usually, we have 2 lists; one is our habits list – the things we do every day without thinking about them and the other is a list of those things we need to do but might not feel like doing (right now). We could call this list our “need to list”. The second list, our need-to-do list is what we need to actively write out and keep handy. To be effective, it needs to to be with us always, otherwise, we will easily forget about it. If we keep it on our desk at home, we might forget about it when we need it when we are out shopping.

Also, I think that, in order for this tool to be useful and effective, we need to keep it short, no more than 10 items at a time. Otherwise, we may find ourselves back at square one, facing an overly daunting list.

Block Time

Blocking out time makes a lot of sense particularly since we are already familiar with the concept of having a container and a place for objects. Organizing our physical space saves us time and helps us to live clutter-free. Why should we not do the same thing with time? Why could we not assign each task its own block of time, give it a home, so to speak? If each task is given a space of time, then there will be little room for all the time-space clutterers or time killers. We will get a lot more done in a shorter space of time and have more time to spend with the people we want to spend time with to do the things we love to do.

There are some who try to accomplish the same goal of saving time by multitasking. While there are good arguments for multitasking, I think that assigning blocks of time wuîll give a greater sense of satisfaction.

 

Do What You Don’t Feel Like Doing

Mark Twain and Brian Tracy (Eat That Frog) both alluded to the need to swallow the big frog (the hardest tasks) first. If we can do this, the rest is easy. We can train ourselves to be less afraid of doing what we are afraid of doing or not wanting to do. It is these big frogs that keep us from accomplishing our goals. These big frogs keep us in fear mode. We procrastinate and make excuses, often just to convince ourselves that we are justified in procrastinating.

When we “eat the frog” and other frogs after this one, we will feel empowered, satisfied and confident that we can do it again and again.  What we don’t want to do is always the hardest to do, but eating the frogs first will help us get to where we want to go.

Make Good Use of Small Bits of Time

And finally, what about the smaller bits of time? What can we do with these? You know what I am talking about – the 10 or 15 minutes you wait at the hairdressers for your appointment or the time you spend waiting at the mechanics for an oil change. This is still time. Actually, there is a lot that can get accomplished in these snippets of time. For example, this might be a good time to write out your grocery list or enter bills into a budget app. Why not keep a list of small tasks for times like this? This list can be a “filler” list to make use of the time that would otherwise go unused

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca