Making Time for What Matters To You
For some the words “time management” can be scary. These words can bring up high school guidance flashbacks, or make us feel like our lives must be over-scheduled or busy in order to be productive and meaningful. Once those feelings pass, however, we can begin to really enjoy the task of planning our time. Surely emergencies and unexpected events will occur, and we will need to address them. However, we need not let the possibility of these unpredictable occurrences distract us from what can be a very healthy and productive mental exercise: Prioritizing the tasks of our lives.
When we decide to spend some of our time planning and managing the tasks and events of our lives we are able to prioritize those things that must get done (showering/bathing, sleeping, eating, or exercising, for example) those that we’d like to do (leisure activities or hobbies, for example), and the other tasks or those tasks that fall somewhere outside of the typical wants and needs of daily life (feeling that you should help your cousin move into a new apartment next weekend, for example).
The first task of time management is to recognize that each person finds success in managing their time in different ways. What works for you may not work for your friends or family members and that is completely typical. While some people enjoy keeping their lists and important dates in a paper planner, others prefer to set reminders on their phones. What is most important is not how one decides to manage their time, it is that they decide this task is valuable and that they do their best to remain consistent in whatever method they select. Like any behavior pattern or habit, consistency is often a hallmark for success.
Enclosed herein are some ways to manage your time and create a life that is balanced, productive, and joyful. As mentioned above, not every strategy is effective for every person. However, in any time-management process it is important to first discern what events, activities, and behaviors fall into the categories of “I need to”, “ I want to” and “Other”. Listing tasks according to importance within each category can also be helpful. Beyond that, this month we invite you to review these strategies, to discern which if any can be of help to you, and to try them out. We welcome your feedback and are excited to begin the conversation about creating lives for ourselves that acknowledge our needs, our wants, and our priorities.
-The Root To Rise Team
Do what matters first: Select your most important tasks and attend to them first. Spend some time each morning going over what needs to get done today and adding to that list of “needs”, when possible, those things you’d “like” or “want” to get done as well. Taking time to plan your day, even for a few moments in the morning, can prevent you from being overwhelmed by unforeseen circumstances or distracted by unnecessary or low priority items. If you planned your day by respecting your own priorities you’ll have a reminder to focus on what is really important.
Simplify and stay organized: While organization and simplification surely warrant their own blog post (perhaps sometime soon) they also bear mentioning here because these approaches can help prevent wasted time. Organizing one’s clothing, for example, can prevent wasted time looking for a particular shirt or other garment.
Make Self-Care A Priority: Taking care of yourself (sleeping enough, exercising regularly, finding calm moments for reflection, eating right, and the like) is essential and keeps you healthy and productive.
Be present as you complete tasks: Multitasking is not always a fully negative behavior, but we must be aware that there will be times when doing too many things at once prevents us from meeting with success or wastes our time. Giving your full focus to the task that you’re completing now reduces the likelihood of mistakes, “redo’s”, and lost time.
Don’t be afraid to literally manage your time: Set a time limit or make an educated guess about how long something will take you to do. Get to know this time frame for each task and give yourself a few minutes between tasks in case your estimate wasn’t exactly correct or you need a break before moving on. (Extra Perk: When you list tasks like you might find yourself able to use random pockets of time better. A good example of one of these time pockets is the time that you have while your laundry is washing and/or drying and before it will need to be folded or hung.)
Recognize your common “time wasters” and work to address them as needed: What tasks do you spend more time on than you feel is necessary or warranted? Why do you spend that extra time on these tasks? How might you be able to get it done well but in less time? These questions can help us see where we are losing time that we need not waste. If you feel you unnecessarily spend a good chunk of your day checking and responding to emails, for example, perhaps you can carve out one or two times during the day to check /respond to email so that your entire day is not monopolized this task.
NOTE: Again, these are all suggestions and the strategies described above are by no means a one-size-fits-all set of recommendations. The most interesting part of time management is finding the methods that give each of us as an individual the feelings of success and joy.