Time: The Ultimate Luxury
There are eighty-six thousand four hundred seconds that pass each day, yet somehow, it’s never quite enough. Over the past month, I’ve heard several of my friends and clients talk about how they wish they had more time. I asked one of them what it would be like to have one more hour each day and their response is what inspired me to write this article.
“One hour? I’d be happy to have one minute. One hour would feel like an all-expenses paid month long vacation to Europe. Where I spend my days being chauffeured around to five-star restaurants, eating and drinking only the finest of foods and wines.”
With the New Year, having just arrived and resolutions along with it, I imagined that the desire to have more time had spread far and wide.
Together We Triumph
Before we begin I want to ask a few questions, how often do you find yourself wishing you had more time in the day? Once a week? Twice a week? Every day? If that thought has crossed your mind what have done to try and create more time for yourself? I want to share with you a few ways I use to help manage my time but perhaps you have one or two ways that work for you already. If that’s the case, Great! Please feel free to share those as suggestions at the bottom of this article or on the original page you saw article post. My hope is that together we can ensure no one feels pressed for time… because that’s never a fun feeling! With all that being said let’s move on to my top three tips/tricks to make time start working for you!
Keep Track of Time… Literally
When I first started putting some serious thought into managing my time more effectively I didn’t know where to begin. I felt rushed and couldn’t shake off that stressful thought of “if only I had another day to do [x].” But when I tried to think back on what I could have done to give myself the extra time I needed, my mind consistently drew a blank – probably because stress and memory don’t mix well. So, since I couldn’t remember where and how my time had been spent I decided to mark it down. I created a memo pad on my phone, set one alarm to wake me up in the morning and then several additional alarms to go off every hour on the hour – these multiple alarms served as notation reminders/check-ins. When one went off I would go to the memo pad in my phone and type in what I had done for the past hour. The notations were quick and simple, here’s an example:
6:45 AM: Rise and Shine (hit snooze 3 times)
7 AM to 8 AM: Showered, made breakfast, started writing new article
8 AM to 9 AM: Stopped working on Article, listened to podcast, continued working on Article
9 AM to 10 AM: Finished article, went to work out
… (etc., etc., etc.) …
10:30 PM: Reset all alarms and went to bed
I continued to write in my memo pad (which I blandly labeled “Time Log”) each day for one full week. When the week ended, I looked at my Time Log and was amazed at what it had done for me.
First, it gave me a new perspective of time. I stopped viewing a day as twenty-four hours. Instead a day became seventeen hours because, while it logistically consists of twenty-four hours, I am sleeping and therefore not productive for seven or eight of those hours. Essentially, I found out that sleep is crucial. I need sleep, you need sleep, we all need sleep. That isn’t so much a tip but more of a fact. We are less productive and less efficient when our brain is tired.
Second, after forcing myself to make entries into my Time Log, I realized that there were hours throughout the day that could have been utilized more efficiently, for example I realized that I could save myself an hour each day if I listened to my podcasts and read the news when working out in the gym. This is one example, but there were several more. This list also served to point out the hours where I had completely slacked off by the wonderful distraction of television. Fortunately, the next tip helped me effectively manage those hours.
Isolate and Eliminate
For me this was the hardest trick to tackle, but it was by far the most helpful. As I mentioned above, when I was forcing myself to keep track of time, I fell prey a few times to the always alluring distraction of technology. When I was working from home my main distractor was TV. It didn’t really matter what was on – usually HGTV– it was just something I saw and then inevitably thought to myself, “I’ll just take a quick break.” An episode of Fixer Upper later and my “quick” break had turned into a colossal waste of time. My solution was to remove TV from the equation. This meant either hunkering down in my guest bedroom or in most cases, leaving my apartment and heading to the local library (or Barnes and Noble). The trick to this tip is first figuring out what your main sources of distraction are. Once you’ve isolated the culprit, create a plan that eliminates it from the equation. So, for example, maybe your distraction is taking a five-minute break from work to check the latest ESPN updates or latest news article on your phone. One plan might be to turn your phone off (or take the battery out, or leave your phone in your car) until you’ve accomplished the work you set out to do or until you reach a specific time that you’ve designated as free/break time; your lunch break for example.
Create, then Break
Now that you have an awareness of how much time you have and the ability to ensure your time is spent well, you need to create your to-do list. However, this list is going to look a bit different than an average to-do list. To start, set a time structure. Is this list going to represent what you need to accomplish today, what you need to accomplish over the next three days or over the next week? When you’ve established your time structure start writing down everything you need to accomplish, but be specific. For example, if one of your to-do’s is to clean your house, detail what that means – vacuum the floors, fold the laundry, dust the cabinets, etc. This might make your list longer but that’s perfectly fine. When I first did this, I finished my list and almost instantly felt overwhelmed because my list was cumbersome, to say the least. Clearly, it’s not helpful to come out of the gate overwhelmed, and therein lies the problem with most lists. The difference here is we’re going to lessen that anxiety by breaking the list up into small sections of 4 to 5 items – do your best to group items so they flow together. For example, if your laundry room and kitchen are near each other, Section One might consist of “Put dirty clothes into washing machine, empty clean dishes from dishwasher, scrub dirty dishes and place into dishwasher.”
*Note* If you’ve created a week-long list, start by breaking the list down into what needs to be accomplished by day, then move to breaking each day down into smaller sections.
Once you’ve broken down your list into manageable sections assign a reasonable time-limit to each item that you expect to take longer than thirty minutes, for instance: Fold the laundry – 45 minutes or Research next article topic – 60 minutes. This last part serves two purposes. First, it will help those who (like myself) need a deadline or a fire under our butts to kick ourselves into top-gear. Second, it allows you to tailor your day to your work style. Personally, I would organize my sections into two or three smaller items then one long item because for me, starting work is difficult so it was much easier to start working when I knew that the first task was relatively quick. That being said though, it’s your schedule, so tailor it to how you work best!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and perhaps learned a new trick or two. As I mentioned before, this list is short and there are certainly several more ways to help manage your time so if you know of any please feel free to share! As always, if you enjoyed it please feel free to “Like”, “Share” or “Comment” on it and be sure to check back here next month when I release my next article “”.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate