How are you managing your time? To help you answer that question, here are a couple of examples:
“I get up and read the paper… make coffee… read the paper again… think about lunch… Each day fades into the next.”
“I’m overcommitted. I can’t make the day any longer and so I’m not taking care of myself.”
Now, if these two people were in the same room, each might look at the other with envy. Temporarily at least. Until they both realized that overwork and boredom can be two sides of the same coin: Whether you’re sprinting or crawling, being stuck on a treadmill is still being stuck.
There are only so many hours in the day, and feeling like the day is slipping away from you – or being wrestled away from you… Wow, that’s stressful.
Repeat after me: Better time management means less stress!
Here’s how to get some control over your time.
Take a look at your Big Five life priorities. Thought about what’s important in life lately? Think immediate and long term. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Keep stress to a minimum. Exercise more and eat better. Be more compliant with treatment. Create new relationships. Get a better job. Challenge your mind and creativity. Help people you care about. Serve your community. Enhance your spiritual growth. What are your Top Five?
Ask yourself: How am I building my Big Five into my daily life? If you haven’t thought about this in awhile, you might be on to the first clue as to why you aren’t satisfied with how you’re spending your time. One helpful (and painful) way to answer this question is to make a list of how you spend your time each day. Do this for a week. And then go back through and see how your Big Five are reflected in what you do with your time. Where are you letting yourself down?
Take a hard look at familiar patterns. Human beings have a tendency to hold onto patterns of over-commitment and chaos, or lack of direction and boredom, because while these patterns are unsatisfactory they are also familiar. Kind of like hitting your head against a wall over and over. Change means uncertainty and that can be uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and chant: ‘Something’s gotta give.’
Tiptoe outside of your comfort zone. Take another look at your Big Five and start introducing some of what’s missing in your life – quiet time, new people, and activities you might actually enjoy. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a push by scheduling what’s new and challenging ahead of time. This will keep you from talking yourself out of it when those old time habits start whining for attention.
Start small and build. If you sit down and create a whole new schedule for yourself, and promise to turn your life around starting tomorrow, you are probably setting yourself up for frustration, and failure. Instead, pick one or two. Like ten minutes of quiet time in the morning. Or a fifteen minute walk. Checking in with a friend three times a week. Setting up that next doctor visit and committing to a time.
Have some fun. And reward yourself. Getting better control of your schedule doesn’t have to mean adding pain to your day. Plan something fun – even a favorite TV show or a videogame – for doing something that’s “good for you” but not what you enjoy.
A little self-discipline is required. Yes, I know you don’t want to schedule anything else. But whether you are always running from one commitment to the next, or feeling like each day is slower than the one before, try building in a block of time each day that you can dedicate to your own self-development.
Take a step back once in awhile and review. Go back that list you first created and look it over. And then think about how you have been spending your time lately. Is the Big Five front and center in your daily life? Or have they been pushed into the background? You’re a work in progress and so is your schedule. What’s gotta give?
Give yourself a push and step off the treadmill and into your life! Whew! Doesn’t that feel better?
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