Monday, May 18, 2015

Time Management

Do you find that you don't have enough time for the things you like to do?  Then take a gander at 168 Hours--You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam.  In it, you'll find all sorts of tips to save time and do the things you really want to do.  There are real-life examples throughout.  We each have 168 hours in each week, so even if we work 50 or 60 hours, we still have 108 to 118 hours during the week to do other things  Make sure to set aside time within those remaining hours to do the things you enjoy doing.  

Here are tips, some of which are based on the information in Vanderkam's book:

1.  Look at how you spend your time:  Keep a time diary for a week or two to see how you spend your time.  Do you find that you spend a lot of time watching TV and surfing the Internet?  My husband and I have been watching a lot of DVDs lately of old sitcoms from the 60s and 70s.  We also spend a lot of time online.  Although that's fun and can be relaxing, there's no reason to sacrifice other activities that would potentially bring more joy by spending countless hours staring at a screen.  Cut that time down drastically to find the room in your life for the things that have been sitting on the back burner for weeks, months, or even years.  For us, that has been to start a game night.  We get together once a month to play party/board games with friends.  It has added an important and fun social element to our lives.

2.  Decide what you want to do:  What would you really, really, really like to do?  Choose two or three and set out to find  ways to fit them into your schedule.  Maybe you'd like to spend more time with your children, or take a pottery class, or exercise.  Go for it!  Get out there and do it.  As Vanderkam notes, that last one is a must.  Fit exercise into your schedule so you increase your endurance, you feel better, and you have more energy to take on all the tasks of your day.  I'm exercising more often these days.  I notice a big improvement in my mood on the days I exercise versus the days I don't.  My husband and I are also taking more time to spend with our pets.  We have six cats and a parrot.  We spent a good share of our free time volunteering at animal shelters over the last several years.  While that is important and we loved it, we realized that we weren't spending enough time with our own adopted pets at home.  So we reduced our volunteer time drastically.  Now we only occasionally volunteer.  We hope that when we retire we'll be in good health and able to volunteer somewhere ever day.  That's quite a few years down the road yet, but something we're looking forward to.

3.  Decide what you don't want to do:  We spend a lot of time doing things we think we should do.  Delete 'should' from your vocabulary.  Are you tired of housework?  Do you cringe everytime you're asked to serve on yet another committee?  Are there friends or family members you would rather not see as often?  It's okay to back off.  Listen to yourself and find out what changes you would like to make, then go about making them.  Learn to say 'no' more often, so you have the energy to do the things and spend time with the people that make your heart sing.  I admit I don't spend as much time on household chores as I used to.  When my husband is at work, I work at home.  When he comes home, I spend time with him.  That's also when I tend to do chores too--after work.  Just because I'm home during the day, doesn't mean it's chore time.  It's work time, like it would be for anyone who works outside the home.  

4.  Unclutter your life:  By this I mean, go through and get rid of things in your life that you don't need.  Clutter can dampen your spirits, keep you bogged down, and potentially kill your motivation.  So, this project is a good one to do during the times you used to watch TV and spend glued to the Internet.  Go through your home and get rid of anything you don't use, want, or need anymore.  If you haven't worn something in a year, most likely you won't ever wear it again.  Give it away or pitch it.  Have you saved all your school work, or souvenirs from trips?  It's time to thin them out.  Are you afraid to get rid of anything anyone has ever given you just because it might hurt their feelings?  It's your stuff now; it's up to you what you do with it.  Get a box and go through these things, only keeping the items you truly enjoy and use.  When you're done going through your home, hit your office.  Do you absolutely need every piece of paper, every report, every statement, every knickknack, every email message, every document on your computer, every sticky note, every manual, or every freebie from conferences that fills your work space?  I'm guessing , no.    Spend some time before your work day starts or during your breaks to sort through some of these things.  I'm not saying you should get rid of everything.  Keep the things that are dear to you or that you really need, of course.  Just get rid of the clutter.  

All these things will help save time in the end.  Give them a try and see if they work for you.  I'd love to hear how you decide to make time for what's important to you.  Contact me at or post a message here.  Also feel free to visit my website at  Take care.

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