Making Time for What Really Matters

Time management matrix as described in Merrill...

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In recent weeks, I’ve written about eating healthier, becoming financially stable, and letting go of clutter.  That’s all good but most of us lead very busy lives.  When do we have time to do those things?  Some of us barely have time to eat, much less cook.  It’s all we can do to keep track of our wallet, much less create a second source of income.  How do we make time for additional activities?

The answer is we don’t.  Trying to do more and more is foolish.  Not only is overloading ourselves stressful, it takes the joy out of living.  It’s an illusion to believe that through better time management, we can do, be, and have everything.  While time management techniques may give us a boost in productivity, the real key to having time is to do less.  It’s really about prioritization and self management amidst demands and distractions.

How do you actually spend your time right now?  It’s best to keep a time log for a week to get the most accurate information.  If you really can’t manage that, then estimate how much time you spend on different activities each day of the typical week.  How long do you spend sleeping, showering, grooming, working, socializing, running errands, taking care of others, commuting, web surfing, watching TV, volunteering, having fun, being with loved ones, praying, cleaning, cooking, relaxing, etc.?

After a week, take a good look at your log and be honest with yourself – what adds little value to your life?  What adds excessive stress?  If you really enjoy a TV show, keep watching.  But is it worthwhile to watch the show after that and the one after that simply because the TV is on?  The volunteering you do at your kid’s school – are you doing it out of love or guilt?  That old friend who likes to do nothing but complain, do you really want to continue having coffee with them?

What can you let go of all together?  Can you delegate household chores more equitably so you don’t have to do it all?  Leave a friendship that drains you?  Are there activities that you can spend less time on?  Can you work less?  Spend less time online or watching TV?

Like carving in marble, you chip away what is not essential so that the beauty of your life can take shape and shine forth.  It takes courage and strength to do this.  It’s a process of learning to say no to less important activities in order to say yes to what you really value.  Choose joy, meaning, and fulfillment over busyness.

As you reduce and eliminate activities, give yourself some breathing room before filling up the time with other things.  Allow some space in your life.  This helps you get in touch with what truly matters to you.

Ask yourself:

  1. What do I want to spend more time on?   This could be anything, such as being with family, having fun, growing a business, or simply sleeping more.
  2. Are there areas that need my attention such as health, finances, or spirituality?
  3. Knowing that I have a limited amount of time on earth, what is most important to me?

Reflect on these questions.  Then judiciously add activities to your life that are of real value.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  It’s up to us to use it wisely.  Be selective.  As life coach Cheryl Richardson says, don’t confuse tough choices with no choices.  Make time by simplifying your activities, by doing less.  Make time for what truly matters to you.  Life is precious and short.   Live accordingly.

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