"The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities."
– Stephen Covey
Time is precious. We know that sounds cliché, but your moments really do matter. Time is not an infinite resource for us each individually. Time marches on and at some point we stop marching. However, many of us are not consciously structuring our moment-to-moment. In fact, a lot of us scratch our head and wonder “Where did the time go?” It’s like looking up at the clock thinking it was just 1p.m. and it’s now 3p.m. and you haven’t done those two things you needed to get done today. In fact, somehow the list grew longer. Recently I found myself wondering where the time all went when we dropped two of our four boys off at college this fall. I went home, looked at pictures of them and wondered why I hadn’t changed a bit and yet they’d all aged by ten years. 😊 Baffling.
The answer to managing your time rests with you and no one else. How are you spending your time and energy?
We’re very aware that most of us would rather do just about anything than sit with ourselves and ask ourselves a series of questions aimed at self-improvement. A common reaction to self-help is to read something helpful and, with the most permanent of intentions, make the change. Unfortunately, most of the time the change is only temporary and we revert to our old ways without the proper tools in our tool bag of making life changes. However, the great news is that it's that continual assessment and re-assessment of ourselves that enables change. Sitting down and soul-searching helps you become clear. Chances are, if you've set aside the time to do the work, it means that you are open and are in the process of allowing the discomfort that accompanies growth.
The no-so-great news is that most of us wait until a significant event, that is usually a wake-up call and often a health crisis, to realize they need to manage their time and energy properly. No, I don’t have a study or perfect facts to back that up, but if you just stop and look around and live enough life you see this pattern repeatedly.
You have 24 hours in your day. Take that out to 365 days in a year and let’s take an 80-year life. Better yet, let’s give you a 90-year life and more hours. Now go easy on me because I’m a self-help guru and not a mathematician, but it looks like in my scenario, you’ll have 788,400 hours to live. Let’s say you are 45. You have 394,200 hours to go. How are you going to spend your time?
Now, with my mathmagician skills here, let me take some of your time. I’m going to remove 131,400 hours for sleep. I have you sleeping 8 hours a night for the next 45 years. That leaves you with 262,800 hours. I’m going to take another 50,000 hours or so for work (no weekends included). Leaving you now with 212,800 hours.
I didn’t add in school, commute, exercise, volunteering, vacation, relaxation, eating, etc.… and I took a straight 8-8-8 day – 8 hours of sleep, work and other. Your day might be 4-10-10 or 0-24 or 2-12-12 or 6-12-6 or 4-12-8. It just depends on the day and you.
Life nibbles at your time, often without you even really knowing it. This piece in intended to get you to think about your time and energy and realize that nobody holds your power, energy, time and decisions but you. We have suggestions and some answers, but those rest in your heart – not ours.
EXERCISE: Grab your journal or notebook and write down your key thoughts on how you currently use your time and how you wish you used your time. Write down 10-20 ideas.
What we do know is that eventually you will most likely have a life-changing moment. Unless, you can predict the future, you might not see that moment clearly now. Because of this, it is important to un-learn, undo and un-multi-task often. It then becomes important to constantly re-learn and reprioritize. The common signs I see in my coaching practice and world of Best Ever You that indicate a need to shift priorities and manage time better are:
Key Indications Poor Life Balance/Time Management:
-Overall Poor Health
-Frequent common colds or flu
-Overweight by more than 20 pounds
-Substance use (alcohol, tobacco, drugs, prescription drugs)
-Habitually late, even by 5 minutes
-Filled with excuses
-Feelings of underappreciation
-Kids and family complaining
-Missing out on moments that matter to others
-Dropping activities, you once loved
-Feeling out of balance
EXERCISE: Grab your journal or notebook and write down any signs you have of time management issues. Be honest with yourself.
You bring yourself with you wherever you go. Your goals, values, behaviors, boundaries go with you at work, home and play in every hour and every moment.
Top 15 ways to help manage your time and energy:
Realize everything isn’t a priority. Decide each day what your 2 most important personal and 2 most important work-related priorities are and solidly achieve those in a consistent fashion for 6 weeks.
Say No and Say Yes, but do them equally and mean both.
Understand: You go where you place your energy.
Take the time to slow down, teach others and trust. Mentor, Delegate, Learn and Ask for help.
Be 5 or more minutes early to everything both personally and professionally. Account for traffic, commute and expect the unexpected.
Know where your center of peace is. Too much of this or that and learn to bring yourself back to center.
Realize you put energy into what is most important to you. Figure out what is most important to you for real and understand your moment to moment matters most.
Manage the 5 key interrupters. (Another person’s “emergency” or “untimeliness”, the phone, email, personal interactions (i.e., person in your office striking up a conversation), Yourself (mind-wander, procrastination, etc..)
Understand and live by the principle that you can’t undo or get your time, moments or energy back.
Set time aside
Put your health first above all. Without your health intact, not much else matters. Don’t wait for a wake-up call.
Volunteer your time. It will assist you to maintain perspective in many areas of your life.
Get very aware. Consider yourself a time management trainee and even get yourself a timer. Retrain yourself and your brain. Get back on track.
EXERCISE: Grab your journal or notebook and write down 3-5 ways you feel you could manage your time better. Pick 1 and implement the change. Write about the change each day for 60 days.
Recently, I took a poll in my social media, Linked In and Twitter. I asked my followers and friends if they would rather have $1,000,000 or 1,000,000 hours. Nearly 100% of the 5,000 people who responded said they would rather have 1,000,000 hours. I even increased it to $2 million and kept the same hours and nearly everyone chose the hours.
What would you rather have? How are you spending your time?
Advanced Discussion Questions:
What is the one key thing you can do daily to help manage your time and the various demands placed on you?
What are the benefits of not multi-tasking?
Is there a golden rule of time-management?
How can we make these guiding principles of time management a habit?
What is the one secret disruptor to time management? (e.g., phone, email, certain people, etc.)
Do ‘To Do’ lists help with time management?
How do you maintain a state of gratitude and appreciation with respect to time?
Author's Note: This piece was developed for the Ascendant Compliance Conference time management session in Napa, CA with Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino and Korrine Kohm.
About Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is a 19-year veteran of the financial services and regulatory compliance training industry. Now, a recognized leader in personal development, Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of The Best Ever You Network, a brand with more than one million followers in social media and over two million radio downloads on The Best Ever You Show.
With a mixture of humor and grace, Elizabeth helps people root in gratitude, discover motivation and implement positive, lasting change. An expert in mentoring people to market their strengths and achieve brand excellence, she works with clients worldwide to illuminate their light within, develop their best life and become their Best Ever You with gratitude-based behavior and belief systems.
Elizabeth’s book PERCOLATE – Let Your Best Self Filter Through (Hay House, 2014) has been called “charming” by Publisher’s Weekly, with “an ingenious extended coffee metaphor.” Guarino also ranks consistently as one of the top 40 social CEOs on Twitter and was just named a favorite by Oxford Said Business School. Her hashtags #BestEverYou and #TipstoBeYourBest are widely circulated.