Moving from “Where did my time go?” to “What did I make time for?”
Have you ever thought these things?
How will I find the time to fit this in too?
I don’t have time for that.
I’m too busy.
There aren’t enough hours in the day.
There are two things that I believe to be universal truths about time management.
First: "You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." ~ Charles Buxton
Second: The biggest asset in time management is self-awareness; to understand your good and bad habits, and to recognize what strategies would be most impactful and helpful.
To build self-awareness, you must first pay attention to where your time is going. Once you know where your time is actually going, you can evaluate where your time is well spent and where it can be better spent.
So I’m giving you a challenge. For the next week or two, I want you to track how you are really spending your time. Track everything. Sleep, tv, grooming, exercise, transportation, emails, meetings, phone calls, creative work projects, administrative tasks, shopping, social activities, meals, prep work. Everything.
Once you track all of your time, it can be helpful to lump that time into categories like self care, family time, administrative tasks, household tasks and errands, productive work, meetings, time wasters. Categories can help get a bigger picture of where your time is spent well and where it’s not.
So let’s reflect:
Where is your time well spent? Where is it not well spent?
When you are planning and budgeting your time, are you planning it well? Are you over or underestimating the amount of time you’ll need for something?
Finally, and most importantly, look at the things demanding your time.
What can you automate (set it up so it happens automatically, such as creating a spreadsheet to do equations for you, setting up reminders, etc)?
What can you delegate (give the task to someone else to complete or outsource)?
What can you eliminate (it’s not really that important, I can stop spending time here)?
What can you simplify (it needs done, and by you, but you can streamline it so it’s done more efficiently)?
The next part of this exercise is the most powerful. Instead of looking at this from the mindset of “where did my time go?,” I want you to look over your time tracker from the mindset of “this is what I made time for.”
Take a moment and sit with this. This can completely change the way you think about how you manage your time. Now, I want you to walk through those reflection questions again. Did any of your answers change with this mindset shift?
Remember, you don’t find the time—you make time for what’s important. It’s up to you to take an active role in making time for what’s important.