April 8, 2013
Today, you have 1,440 minutes to get it all done. That’s the same amount of time you had yesterday and that you will have tomorrow. In fact, that is all any of us are ever going to get. The question is, how can you maximize your time to make sure that most of your energy is going toward the things that are most important to you? How do you use those 1,440 minutes to do all the things you “have” to do and still have time to accomplish your health and fitness goals?
1. Say “No” to a Higher “Yes”
The first reality you need to embrace is that there are always going to be more demands on your time than you can possibly meet in a day. Embrace the word “no” and rest assured that by saying “no” to less important things, will be available to say “yes” to the things that are most important to you.
2. Anchor Your Non-negotiables
Start by making a list of the things in your life that are non-negotiable. These are the things that you absolutely must do to be the best person you can be, as well as those things that bring you the most joy. For me, that list includes faith, family and fitness. These are the things that give me energy and purpose. For example, I position my non-negotiables at the beginning of each and every day, where nothing can interfere with them. If you wake up already feeling overwhelmed by your schedule, this may sound like a sacrifice you just can’t afford. But by getting up one hour earlier, you can turn this into a gift you give yourself! You will find that you have more energy throughout the day and actually get more accomplished because you are not mentally exhausted worrying about when you will have time to take care of you.
3. Be Realistic
Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and don’t waste energy worrying about what you cannot. Become a list-maker and put estimated times next to each of your tasks to make sure that you are not taking on more than you can handle. Making your list the night before will help you keep perspective on what is important and give you a sense of empowerment as you take control of your time.
4. Know Yourself
Know your strengths and weaknesses and put yourself in a position to succeed. For example, if you know that you do not work well without supervision, do not take on a job where you will be forced to work alone. This will only stress you out and make you feel like a failure—a sure-fire energy drain. On the other hand, if you are most successful handling self-directed projects, don’t volunteer to be a part of team or committee where you will get bogged down in the minutia and forced to give away your valuable energy reserves.
5. Embrace Technology
The fact that you are reading this online means you are likely already embracing technology to save time and energy. Is there more you could be doing? Could you consolidate your calendar, contacts and to-do lists into one smartphone device? How about learning how to use the voice command feature to create and update your to-do list while driving to and from work? Could you move the bulk of your bill paying, shopping and correspondence online? You may find that investing in an iPad or tablet allows you to zip through these high-demand/low-yield tasks while sitting on the sidelines at your child’s soccer practice or waiting at the airport for a flight, leaving you with more time and energy to head out for that run when you get back to the house.
6. Minimize Errands
If you were to keep track of how much time you spend in the car while running errands, you would be amazed. We all know the value of grouping our errands together to save time. If an unexpected errand is thrust upon you, take a moment to consider its importance. What would happen if you did not do that errand today? Is there someone else you could delegate it to? Or, could you handle it on the phone or via the computer and not have to do it at all? In reality, many of our errands are time wasters and they fool us into thinking they are urgent and/or important.
7. Don’t Be a Hero
Finally, don’t get into the trap of doing it all yourself. Whether at work or at home, you can and should rely on the people around you to pick up some of those energy-sapping tasks so you do not have to take them all on. This helps others gain responsibility and learn to appreciate you even more.