Today I want to talk about our most precious and nonrenewable resource: time. If your schedule is packed with obligations instead of activities that make you happy and fulfilled, then here are three steps to take back control.
1. Figure out how you’re spending your time – On a sheet of paper (or in a Word document) write the hours you are awake in half-hour increments. Leave space next to each to record your activities during that time. For several days (or a week if you can do it) keep this sheet next to you and record what you are doing. If you’re ever tracked food intake or spending you know that the simple act of recording makes you hyper-aware of your behavior, so you may be more productive during this exercise!
After your tracking is done, take a look at what you have written down. Grab a few highlighters and color code your activities as work, family, personal interests, social media, or whatever categories are relevant to you. Take note of how many hours you are spending on each one.
Now, take a look at your calendar for the next few months. Review all your scheduled activities and categorize them in the same way you did your tracked time.
2. Define your goals and values – You can’t know what your priorities are unless you define them. Spend some time thinking about what is most important to you (i.e., your values), and what you want to accomplish (i.e., your goals). Write these down. This will be essential information as you begin to declutter your schedule.
3. Compare and evaluate – Take note of your tracked time and scheduled activities. How does each one stack up with your goals and values? If it is not serving either, ask yourself the following questions:
Why did I agree to this?
Am I looking forward to this or dreading it?
Does this bring me joy?
Am I doing this only out of obligation?
Who is benefiting? Are they one of my most important people?
In five years will it matter that I did this?
Can I delegate this?
Can I eliminate this?
Saying no to things can be difficult because we want to please others, but it is essential for living a life in line with your goals and values. Your time is limited, so take steps today to start spending yours doing what is most important.
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