Time: What we all want more of and what so few of us use very well.
How many times have we said, "Where has the time gone?" Or "I'd love to do that but I just don't have time." Or how often do we look back on a day and think to ourselves, "I know I was busy, but what did I do?"
We've all been there and this seems to be a normal part of our existence, especially when we have so many demands being placed on our time. These demands are like the stack of papers that pile up on our desk with sticky notes that say urgent and important and handle immediately.
So we're left running around trying to get our never-ending checklist crossed off. Whether it's taking care of the kids and running them around to all their activities, or whether it's work and the constant deadlines that loom in the distance like ominous thunderclouds, it all can become a little overwhelming at times.
But is doesn't have to feel like the freight train of life is careening off the tracks headed for the cliffs while we hold on by our fingertips hoping things will be different at some point in the future.
So often we allow time to control us and we become slaves to the hard, unforgiving tick-tock of the seconds of our lives disappearing into the past. But what if it could be different? What if we could step out of the hamster wheel, pause, take a deep breath, enjoy the view and walk off onto a path that we have shaped and molded?
What if we used our time to be the channel through which we funnel our lives and express what is valuable to us and what we use to build the future and the life that we want?
So how do we regain control of the wild stallion of time and tame it and rein it in to serve us and plow the fields of our future? You're probably thinking, that's nice but this is a real world we live in and the picture you just painted might be fine and dandy for someone else but I have kids or older parents I'm taking care of, or I have to provide for my family, have responsibilities, obligations and all the other numerous reasons we use to defend our actions.
Well, here are four things anyone can do today to start regaining control of your time.
1. Figure out what is important to you at this point in your life and why.
When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself what do I want out of life? What is important to me right now? What will be important to me in the next year? 3 years? 5 years?
All of our behaviors flow out of our identity, values, priorities and goals.
So as we start to unpack these we may begin to see a discrepancy between what we say is important and where we actually invest the majority of our time. Take a couple minutes and really think through this worksheet. You don't have to rush, whether you believe it or not these true values are shaping how you spend your life. So the least you can do is give them a "little time." Find the top 7 aspects of your life that you value (eg. family, financial stability, work, health, or characteristics of yourself: loving, generous, good work ethic)
2. Keep a time journal.
Change starts with awareness.
Once we have awareness we have an objective look at where our time is actually going. This could be old school with the good ol' pen and paper, or it could be all fancy with a time tracker app such as Toggl or Hours Keeper. However you want to do it, keep track of the next day or, if you want to be a time wizard, the next week in 15 minute increments.
3. Analyze and organize.
Add up all the time that you spent on different tasks throughout your day or week like working, driving, spending time with family, exercising, Facebook, tv, etc. Then compare that with your priorities in life. Do they line up? Awesome, then you are a time managing tycoon! But if you're like most people you might notice some differences between what you say is important and where you spend your time.That's completely normal. Now you have the tools and the awareness to make a change.
4. Take action
Start small and maybe take 10-15 minutes of time from something that may not be beneficial to you or is a time sucker and put it toward one of your top priorities or something that makes you come alive or that you enjoy.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step [or in our case one minute]." Lao Tzu
Make time for what is important to you today.
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