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Time Management Essentials

Managing your time has a lot to do with figuring out who you are.

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"I'm too busy!" "I don't have time!" "I have too many things to do!"

y-maninshower.gif Is this you?

Well, at least you aren't bored! One solution may be to do less, but Murphy's truism "Tasks always expand to fill the time allotted" ensures that you will only get less done in more time! Another solution is to use organizational tools that help you to work more efficiently. Though we can't make more time (there are only 24 hours in a day), we can make ourselves more effective.

Time Management Systems (TMS) provide tools for greater efficiency. These tools range from simple tasklists to elaborate planners even to computerized systems. They're great if you use what's right for you.

A good way to develop the ideal TMS is to start with a daily tasklist. Write down things you would like to do for today. As you complete each task, cross it out and as a new task appears, put it down. This simple, effective system ensures you don't spend more time on your TMS than on doing the tasks! If scheduling is important, get a daily planner and place your tasks in there. As you acquire a deeper understanding of your lifestyle, you may look at the other possibilities that are available.

Tools are fine, but what they are used for is essential. We need to carefully consider what it is we do. This goes deeper than merely 'doing less' to the key issue of one's purpose. Establishing 'our purpose' isn't just a matter of writing down a handful of goals or dreams. It really deals with the question "Who am I?". The answer to the question "Who am I?" will determine "What I do".

Let's look back through our own history and examine things we have done (remembering that hindsight is 20/20). Why is it that some of these events seem to be worthwhile and others worthless (or even downright regrettable)? The 'worth' has to do with you. Some actions align very well with who you are and others don't. Ever say "It's just not me"? Sometimes that phrase is used to get out of doing something, but often it is a sincere expression of your existence.

In practical terms, a task is worth doing if it is in honest alignment with who you are. If you are ever in doubt, if a job feels uncomfortable, if you have too many things to do, or if you are doing them poorly, it is worth questioning "Does this align with who I am?".

The answer may surprise you. y-shadowman.gif

"But there are lots of things I have to do even if I don't want to …." Well, this is the whole point. It is time to examine those things. For instance, I get to spend a lot of time with my seven year old, Kyron, because I work from our home. He is very creative and sometimes his efforts result in a trail of imaginations all over the house. I don't want to clean it up, but it is a job that has to be done. I could deal with the urgency of the matter and clean it up, but I don't. The "Who am I?" says my role is to foster a sense of personal responsibility in my son. That takes priority over the urgency (which doesn't look all that urgent anymore). So guess who cleans up? Kyron says he dislikes cleaning and insists he will never take anything out ever again to play with, but he does and he cleans up too (in fact, he voluntarily did the vacuuming for me the other day).

We must not let urgencies pollute those things that really are important. It is easy to 'lose the forest for the trees' and so we must realize that getting wrapped up in a myriad of urgencies keep us from participating in things of value. (Urgencies, by the way, vaporize as quickly as they seem to appear - just get sick for a few days and see what happens to them as the world continues to spin.)

As written in The Magnificent 7:

"We all have 24 hours in each day: here at last is equality. What should we do with this time, which is our life? Do we invest our time in actions that fulfill our purpose here? Live your time well, for it is all you can call your own!"