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Time is Not a Four Letter Word:
Learn How to Make it Work for You

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 accomplishing more.

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 doctor’s appointment.

Honest Pie: 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 work.

Delegate effectively:  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.

The 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.

Read other articles and learn more about Rena Reese.

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