Written by: Cally Worden
‘I haven’t got the time!’ is a common refrain from many of us. When life is so full with work, kids, and home, the 24 hours in each day can seem to fly by in a blur. Where did that go? The key to spending your time wisely and being successful is to ensure you spend it on the right things, and in the most efficient manner possible. Here’s how.
How Do I Currently Spend my Time?
This is not as easy to answer as you may expect. I’ve just spent 20 minutes faffing about on Facebook before I started writing this article. Yet ask me later how I’ve spent my time this morning and I’ll reply ‘Writing!’. Those minutes we fritter away during the day all add up. Resolve to keep an honesty diary for a week, and log each and every activity you do, and its duration. Looking back after 7 days will give you a very clear picture of exactly how you spend your time, and empower you to make choices on how to change it. What do you really want to be spending your time doing?
Identify Your Dream
Instead of wasting your time on things that don’t really matter to you, change your activity pattern to focus on a dream you have. It may be a career change, planning a road trip, or learning to paint. Or anything else that takes your fancy. It can be something as simple as finding 15 minutes each day to meditate or read a book. When you’re wrapped up in life, dreams can feel daunting and out of reach, but remember you don’t need to know everything about how to achieve your dream before you start aiming for it. Learning is part of the journey.
Make an Action Plan
Without focus you will end up spending your time on activities that contribute nothing to your desired goal. I’m not saying you should plan your days in minute detail, but having a broad view of the things you need and want to do to in order to reach your goal will help significantly. In this way, when you have a choice on how to spend a little of your time you can use it wisely. Instead of my FB faff I could have hung the washing out – I now still have that to do later, when I could have taken that 20 minutes to work on my website (which is part of my ‘Become a Successful Writer’ action plan). Oops. No one said this was easy! Self-awareness is part of the learning process!
Think Yourself Efficient
- Break your time down into manageable chunks – allocating an entire day to a given task and you will inevitably deviate from your focus at some point. Give over just and hour or two to the same activity, and you will probably find that your desire to succeed in meeting a deadline will kick in, and you’ll get loads done
- Be focused – letting your mind wander is often easier than tackling a difficult or challenging task. Work hard at focusing not only on the job in hand, but on its contribution to your long-term goal
- Work smart – understanding the task you are working on and breaking it out into smaller sub-tasks will give you a greater chance of success. And choose the time of day when you are at your most alert to tackle those things you find most challenging
That old adage ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ holds true to how you use your time. Keeping the bigger picture in mind is important, but take time each day to remind yourself of the smaller things you have achieved. This will boost your confidence and morale, and help you to persevere in achieving your true goal. Even if you don’t have a long-term action plan, or a dream that you are working towards, simply choosing to use your time in ways that make sense to you will leave you feeling energised. Start today – there is never a bad time.