Where does the time go each day!? You probably start each day with the best of intentions and plans of what you will accomplish before the time you call it a night. It seems reasonable and achievable. Then why is it that we often fall short of our daily goals and end the day on the frustrated note of unaccomplished tasks and a longer to do list for tomorrow?
To answer that question, we need to take a few steps back. To begin with, make a list of all of the categories that are important to you to include in your life: earning a living, exercise, time with family, social activities with friends, travel, volunteer time, and so on. When you have completed your list, rank them in order of priority.
The next step is a bit tedious, but is essential to the issue at hand. For the next 3 days, carry a small notebook with you wherever you go (or this could be an electronic notepad on your phone). Write down everything you do, and how long you spend doing it. Even tasks that only last a few minutes should be recorded. At the end of the 3 days, you can then figure out an average of how much time you spend each day on any given event. For example, add up all of the minutes spent watching television over the 3 days and then divide that number by 3. That will give you your average daily time spent watching TV. Once you have computed all of your daily averages, compare that list to your list of priorities that you made for the first part of this exercise. You may be quite surprised at how much your actions do not align with your personal intentions.
Now you have the information you need to make adjustments. Where is time being wasted each day on activities that don’t rank high on your priority list? How can you expand your time spent on preferred activities? It is usually quite surprising to people to see the reality of their time allocations versus what they would estimate as true.
This is a crucial first step to effective time management. Knowledge is power. Knowing where your time actually goes is essential in order to make good decisions and changes. Use this information to begin to structure your days according to your own plan rather than just reacting to life’s distractions and falling into routines and habits that are actually draining your energy. When our daily activities align with our objectives, we will feel like we are in the flow, energized and engaged.
Give it a try! In doing so, you will give yourself the gift of more time!
Photo by Enoch Hsiao on Unsplash