Maximize your time

There’s a well-known English saying that goes:  “time flies when you’re having fun”.  I don’t know about you, but it feels as though time is FLYING… period… END OF STORY.

We all have 24 hours in our day ‒ why then does it seem as though some people seem to have MORE time?  I believe those individuals manage to make TIME work for them.

Wikus and I often think back to the days before we had children, and I still can’t really tell you where all our time went.  

Carefree days.

We had nothing to complain about and no time issues ‒ we had 25-hour days… interestingly enough we still sometimes felt that we could do with some more time (especially over weekends).

We often look back and think… “those were the days”…

We all know that time management is extremely important.  It’s also important how you make the time you have available to you, work for YOU, within your unique situation.

Recently, I read in Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean in”, that the best way to make space for a career and a “life” is to make intentional choices about your time.  To set sensible and workable boundaries and to stick to them.

Saying YES to one thing inevitably means saying NO to something else and it is YOUR decision to determine what you’re going to say yes to and what you’re going to say no to.

The older I get, the more I realize that when a YES for one thing means a NO to my family, my personal goals or the things that needs to be done, I need to think and rethink before I make a decision.

There are times when it’s necessary to say YES to things that you enjoy and love doing (that’s got nothing to do with your family or your goals), such as coffee with a friend or a weekend away, BUT then you need to ensure that this is the exception and not the rule.

Sometimes you won’t be able to say NO to events or things that your work requires of you, but you can still ensure that where you have the choice, you choose WISELY. Saying YES simply to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or because you often suffer from severe FOMO, just like me – is not a good enough reason to commit to something.

The “Fear of Missing Out” has bitten me in the behind more times that I would like to confess. The problem is that when time is gone – you can never get it back. I still fall into this trap every now and again, but hey – I’m also just a work in progress.

Reality is that most of us aren’t always given the opportunity to decide for ourselves how much time we must spend at the office or at our place of work. Or maybe in some cases it’s more a situation of blindly accepting the status quo. Experience has taught me that it’s well worth negotiating your time and, in some cases, perhaps even MORE worthwhile than negotiating your salary ‒ particularly once you’ve already proven yourself.

Insist on flexitime and negotiate your time on an ongoing basis to enable you to exercise more control of your time.  You could ask your boss to do a “trial run” and demonstrate that the arrangement could work.  The responsibility then weighs more heavily on you to do your bit, but if you still manage to do what is expected of you and your boss sees that it works, it may become a more permanent arrangement.

BUT YOU’LL NEVER KNOW IF YOU DON’T ASK. And the worst that could possibly happen is that you get “no” for an answer. In which case you know that you should either plan around these rigid hours or start opening yourself up for opportunities that will afford you a more flexible schedule.

When was the last time you did an AUDIT of your time?  What exactly are you spending this precious commodity on?  This is a very worthwhile exercise and you’ll be surprised to see how much time you devote to unimportant things.  Social media is probably one of the biggest time wasters. It’s important to be aware of the things you spend your time on.

Planning is the key to success with effective time management.  I’m not saying that you should put your children to bed wearing their school clothes, like Sheryl Sandberg’s colleague in her book ‒ she may have taken planning to the extreme ‒ but do try to plan ahead as far as possible.

As an example, I pack my sons’ lunchboxes and get their school clothes ready before bed at night to avoid the early morning rush the next day.  I also take out my own exercise clothing at night so that I can get up and get dressed when my alarm clock rings.  These routines not only help me save time but are one of the ways in which I give myself the greatest chance of success.  And when something unexpected happens that I hadn’t planned for, I know that some of the little things have already been sorted out.

Here are a few more practical examples of where and how you can gain extra time in your day:

  • Shop online. It’s a very convenient and effective way of shopping.
  • Get up an hour earlier each morning or, if you’re not a morning person, go to bed an hour later and spend that “extra” time on yourself.  Read your Bible, meditate, exercise ‒ whatever you need to do.  When we have a good workable morning and evening routine, it enables us to be much more effective during the day.
  • Ensure that you don’t schedule unnecessary meetings for things that you could resolve via e-mail or over the phone.
  • Plan your week ahead. And ensure that you make time for self-care when you do your planning.
  • Know yourself and your “biorhythms” ‒ what time of day are you most effective? Always GRANT yourself the best chance of succeeding.
  • Get 8 HOURS of sleep (at least)!!!
  • Do something meaningful with your so-called “dead time” ‒ for example, the times you spend in the car, waiting for your child at school, or sitting at the doctor’s rooms waiting for an appointment. Listen to a podcast, read a book, page through a magazine or start scheduling for the next week. Catching up with unanswered messages or phoning someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Whether we want to recognize it or not, we all have our limits.  You need to know what you are capable of and how much you can handle in a day.  When you’re aware of your own capacity, it’s much easier to set sensible and doable goals and effective boundaries.

Recently I read something written by Daniell Koepke on Instagram that gave me a lot of food for thought:  “Just because you’re capable of something doesn’t mean you should do it.  Capability and capacity are two different things.”

Without the necessary capacity, your competence is not going to be worth much anyway. 

If you’re rundown and burnt out, you won’t even be able to meet the basic expectations that you have of yourself, much less of what others have of you.  

The pressure to achieve and to try and squeeze everything you possibly can do into 24 hours is unnecessary ‒ ensure that you spend the time you have available on the things that really matter.

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