Many of my friends tell me they would like to do amazing things with their life, but they have no time for that. Before 2014 I was the same. I still feel that I use the sentence
“I don’t have the time”
too often. It is a common excuse for not doing something we really feel like doing. Time management is not an easy task. There are many things on your “to-do list”. You have deadlines at work, need to cook a dinner or fix the car, pick up your kids, look fit, be a professionally-dressed and well-behaved human.
How to find time to do all that without getting crazy?
How to do all things you have to do and still be yourself?
I will not give you a recipe for a perfectly balanced life and the best way to manage your time. We are all different so for each of us there is a different way to manage time we got.
I am also unable to tell you how to plan your day in order not to lose the time in traffic or in a queue. Those things are unpredictable and often appear when we are in a hurry.
What I would like to do is to show you that there are tasks that consume your time without any reason. I call them “time wasters” and I try to avoid them as much as I can.
The 3 most common ones are the following:
The first (and the worst of them all) are two time-consuming activities: games and TV. Don’t get me wrong! It is good to watch TV from time to time or play a game on your play-station or PC, but keep it as a hobby or a team activity and put it in a time frame. TV is great when you have a pile of ironing to do. It is even better if you watch it in the language you are trying to learn. It opens your mind towards new words and you will understand quicker what your language teacher is saying to you. However, if you are having dinner,working on your business project, or learning for an important exam, you should keep the TV off. It will only distract you. Your attention will be caught by the new program or ad. You will not remember the taste of this great meal. The project will look odd and not thought through. The exam… oh let’s just say you will need an angel to help you pass it. Focusing on TV or a game you are playing in order to relax may cost you many hours of your time. Suddenly you will realize you should go to sleep, because it is way past midnight.
The second time-waster is the phone that is always ringing. When you are in the office: all clients and colleagues want something from you when you are just in the middle of an important project or seconds to the report deadline. When you are home: it is you mother, brother or friend calling precisely at the moment when you are busy with some errands. It seems that everybody is calling you in the wrong time. Distraction! Distraction! Distraction! It makes your time squeezed to extremely short and stressful deadlines. So please remember that picking up your phone (both business and personal) is your choice. If you are in the middle of something that needs your full attention, it is ok not to pick it up. After all we live in the times when you have the caller’s number and voicemail. You can call them back and address the issue once you are done with your priority. When I worked in the office, I often asked my colleague to take the message. This allowed me to verify, without going into details, if the call was of higher priority than what I was focusing on at the moment. With the personal phone I let it go to voicemail, where the recording kindly asks to leave a message or send me a text in case of urgency. Filter your calls. Respond immediately to those which are really the high priority. Information about missing bread you should buy on the way home can wait until you finish the high-priority task.
The third factor is being afraid of a watch and a buzzer. If you are afraid of those: don’t! I know people say that those who are happy don’t look at the clock, but is it really true in the everyday life where you have responsibilities? It is for sure amazing to put away your watch when you are on holidays. You can eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired or simply use the whole time to do “nothing”. In everyday situations, however, even if you don’t like it, it is better when you time your activities and turn on a buzzer to notify you about an important meeting, deadline or exam. I use time notifications all the time. It helps me in various tasks. When I have a coaching session or give training I put on a warning when it should end or when a break is planned. This way I have time to make a summary of what we have discussed so far. When I do my laundry (in the machine which I have in the basement) I put the timer on in order not to forget to take out my husbands’ shirts from the non-wrinkle program. When I need to leave for an important meeting, I put the reminder as well. The nice ringtone reminds me that in 15 minutes I have to leave home to be on time.
There are of course the unfortunate time wasters that we cannot avoid, like (already mentioned) traffic or queue in the grocery shop, but for those I also have a solution in my planning. But I will write about planning some other time.