Time is Not a Four Letter Word:
Learn How to Make it Work for
By Rena Reese
She is that
certain someone you work with who seems capable of doing it
all. She is already at her desk when you arrive for the day and is
busily working as you say “good night.” She has a reputation for
being the company superhero and managing to do more than most. She
often leaves you and your coworkers wondering what you are doing
wrong if you can’t effortlessly create those same results to the
same degree. The fact is you and your coworkers get the same 1,440
minutes each day to divide among the activities you deem important.
While you may dream of getting “more done” within your workplace
setting, you may not be game when you learn the collateral damage of
Darren was a rock-star
at work. His boss was amazed at his willingness to work overtime and
travel anywhere. He was the go-to guy, the problem solver, the one
who would work through the night, even without being asked. Yes,
Darren made a name for himself within the company, but it came with
a cost. He had a heart attack before he was 45, two failed marriages
and three kids he didn’t know well enough to tell you their best
friends’ names or their favorite food. Darren was a raging “success”
in one area of his life resulting in the erosion of his health, his
physical body and his treasured relationships.
Change does not
have to be hard. Figuring out where your precious time goes is the
first step to reconfiguring your allocations. Dieters looking to
implement a new way of eating are often told to write down
everything they eat each day. Through this written log, a
nutritionist can evaluate the client’s choices and name both the
obvious and stealthy assaults on a healthy eating plan. In the same
way, you have to look at where you are hemorrhaging your precious
minutes so you can re-evaluate those that do not yield a great
payoff. When you write down where your time goes, you are then in a
position to choose differently for yourself. It is then that you
can change something if it does not support or reflect your values.
Then you will operate from a place of choice and power.
For example, you may
want to stay later, volunteer for several extra tasks and be the one
willing to do the two-month stint overseas, but the thought of it
makes you begin to twitch. There is a part of you that knows what
your life requires of you beyond the office door. If you already
feel crunched by the clock when it comes time to pick up your
children or get to the gym in the evening, adding more to the
work-load will topple your balancing act. Is your work life
your whole life? There is no judgment passed on choices being
right, wrong, better or worse, just the importance of choices that
create values-based living. If you stay late but resent your work
for eating time you’d rather spend with your family, at home,
exercising, or simply decompressing, your work will be impacted. An
overworked employee may log more time, but the quality of that work
diminishes with both mental and physical fatigue.
Let’s put the brakes
on our over-accelerated lives to see where we are investing our
precious days. You may crave more time to care for your physical
body, engage with your family and friends or to learn something new.
Honor those cravings. Tomorrow you will get another 86,400 seconds,
invest them to create an abundant return! Here are some helpful ways
to hone your time allocations so that they represent what you value
most and give you the outcomes you desire.
Decide which measuring
stick you will use: What constitutes a “successful” or “productive” day to you?
When your head hits the pillow each night, what measuring stick do
you use to evaluate the day? Is it the money you earned, the meal
you prepared from scratch or how many checks landed on your “to-do”
list? Is it a clean home, happy kids, or having had time to
exercise? It sounds simple, but if hours surfing the Internet in the
evening edges out your gym time, you have to decide to get to the
gym before sitting your bones in front of your computer. If
your lunchtime spinning class gets bumped because of office work,
write “spinning” on your calendar and let people know you have
someplace to be at lunch. Decide what is important to you and before
the day begins and then allot time to accomplish these things. Get
your calendar out and actually schedule them in just as you would a
First, make a list of what usually fills your day. For example, list
everything from sleeping, commuting, TV time, personal grooming, and
pet care. On a sheet of paper draw a circle to represent a 24-hour
period of your life. Divide the pie into fourths to start; each
quarter will represent a six hour block. Now allocate custom cut
slices on your pie that accurately represent the time you spend
doing the items on your list. Now take a good look. What activity
eats up your biggest slice? Which is your skinniest slice? Is there
a chunky piece that could use some trimming down or a skinny slice
that could use some beefing up? Becoming conscious of all that fills
your day puts you in a position of choice and power.
Eat your pie one slice
at a time: When you do the Honest Pie exercise, you will likely notice
some of your slices need a little tweaking. Please don’t overwhelm
yourself by tackling changes to your whole pie at once. Choose one
slice for the coming week that you are committed to changing. Make
it a priority for the next seven days to adjust that one slice.
Consider starting on the piece that you think will have the greatest
payoff and positive residual effects. If you stay up late into the
night watching TV mindlessly and as a result wake up late and
tired for work, adjusting that one slice will positively
impact your physical well being as well as your productivity at
It may be entirely true that no one can do what you do, in the same
way, or as efficiently as you can. Sadly the knowledge of this truth
actually burdens us to some degree. The reality is that the world
will still spin if someone else does some of your “to-dos” a
little differently or less efficiently. There are likely tasks at
work that you can delegate or share with an assistant or coworker.
Encourage others to contribute in ways that showcase their talents.
This strategy can be a “win-win” for everyone involved. Start
involving your kids more in the workings of the family. Allow them
to take on responsibilities as their age dictates. You may be
surprised to learn that having a child empty the dishwasher, roll
the trash can to the curb and put away their clean laundry will add
up to more time for you. Additionally it creates greater teamwork
within the family, kids with higher self-esteem as well as kids that
are more likely to grow into self-sufficient adults. This week,
delegate at least three home or work duties.
Think before you “YN”
(said wine): We say, “yes” and “no” countless times each day. Nearly
everyday someone asks us to do something ranging from joining a
committee to attending a meeting, picking something up at the store
or to host an event. With all things you have a choice, even if you
feel very real pressure to respond in a particular way. Before you
respond with a “yes” or “no”, think. Ask yourself this one
question: “How will I feel thirty seconds after I commit to
this?” If you take a moment to think before you commit,
you will save the trouble of kicking yourself later for committing
to what you really didn’t want to.
evolution of our days happens in much the same way as the slow
graying of our hair. Our ways of being gradually creep in and
become habit. The great news is that when you wake up tomorrow, you
will have a new set of 24 hours to create. The events, role’s and
responsibilities will be there as you make the decision where you
will invest your time and energy. Be sure to invest them in a way
that reflects your goals and your values.
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