Have you ever felt overwhelmed on a Monday Morning by the list of things you have to accomplish, by the pressure that’s building and by the limited amount of time in the day? It’s a feeling many of us feel, and unfortunately, it doesn’t just happen on Mondays.
I’m a “list” person. In fact this morning, before working on this post, I spent about 30 minutes making my list for the day. The includes some pressing items that have to be finished by deadlines today, but the list also includes some things that I’ve got some time to address.
I feel better after making my lists, and I really enjoy crossing things off of that list as I move through the day.
I’ve learned over the years that I don’t need more TIME. I just need to MANAGE MY TIME BETTER.
A mentor in my life, Jim Burns, once told me: “If you can’t finish all that you need to do, you’re probably doing too much”.
I realize that there are times that we have a heavier load, and there are times to feel overwhelmed and times when things all crunch together. Sometimes this can be avoided with better management, and sometimes it’s so out of your control that the only thing you can do is work through it. Some of us control the things that come to our plate, and sometimes we take what is given to us. We’re all different, and our circumstances and schedule changes again and again.
But let’s talk about “discretionary time“: Discretionary time is the time we can control, the time that we manage, the time that is left over after our obligations. How do you manage your discretionary time? Do you have a plan for this time?
Bob Shank, with The Master’s Program, says: “Without a clear sense of objectives, you will never have enough time to succeed in the multiple commitments of your life. Throwing more time at a commitment without a plan for the use of that time is no more effective than throwing more money at a business without a business plan to put it to a strategic use.”
Here are some ideas for how to manage some of that discretionary time better, or even how to find that time:
*Do a time audit: take a 2-week period, and journal your schedule. Be honest, what do you spend time doing. Write down everything without changing your schedule to make the audit look better. This will reveal some things for you.
*Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day and to look at your week. If you make lists, prioritize what you’re going to do for the day, even set some appointments with yourself to work on important things. The more you do this, the easier it will get and it will take less time as you get in the habit of scheduling and prioritizing.
*Keep some space in your schedule for interruptions. Sometimes we schedule things so tight that when we get an interruption, it throws everything off. Plan for it. Create some space, and if you end up with some free time, use it for your priority list.
*Make appointments with yourself. This is key! If you have a project or something that you need to get done, schedule it. I schedule time in the gym, because if I don’t, there will always be something else to fill that time. When someone asks if they can meet with you during a time that you are working on a project, tell them you’ve got an appointment and schedule them for another time.
*Focus. When you are working on important things, get rid of the distractions: Facebook or the internet, email, texts coming in. Focus on what you’re doing, then check things once you’ve finished the task.
*Create some THINK time: this is time when you can clearly process, dream, solve problems in your mind, brainstorm. You can accomplish this by going for a walk, laying still on the couch or just writing in a blank book.
*Carry your calendar with you. Know what’s coming up, know what you need to do. Be able to answer people quickly if they ask about your availability. This is easy using your computer, tablet and phone. If you use a hard copy, keep it with you and figure out a way to back it up.
These are some simple things you can do to create more time. It’s actually just “better time”.
Paul writes in the book of Philippians: “Friends, don’t get me wrong: by no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
I’m learning to be more focused on the things that are important and hopefully that’s reflected in my schedule, my life and my priorities.
How are you doing with this?