It's About Time!
We believe that we can get more done by speeding up everything and multi-tasking on everything. We have become a “get it all done today” society. Therefore, the question becomes are we really setting ourselves up for long-term success or long-term problems? The key to controlling your life is controlling your time.
Many of us suffer from a hurry up and get it done mentality. We believe that we can get more done by speeding up everything and multi-tasking on everything. While driving we’re conducting business on our phones, we eat while working on assignments, we listen to our family members while reading email … the list can go on! We have become a “get it all done today” society. Therefore, the question becomes are we really setting ourselves up for long-term success or long-term problems?
Do you find yourself making any of the following statements:
- I don’t have any time.
- I bring work home.
- I’m always punctual and never miss deadlines.
- I’m always busy, even when others relax.
If this is you then you must understand that having a constant “get everything done at once” mindset may be setting you up for long-term failures: stress-related illnesses, ulcers, heart conditions and nervous tension. Are you a victim of the “I must get everything done at once” mindset?
Most people suffer from speed sickness, aware of every passing moment of the day and jumping from one activity to the next with few or no breaks. This relentless activity may provide an adrenaline rush and the heady experience of surviving or even excelling under pressure, but eventually you pay the price in health and happiness. Society teaches that being busy equals productivity, which equals worthiness. Rather than buy into this view, redefine how you spend your time. Ask yourself four questions:
- What has to be done?
- How much of it has to be done?
- How fast does it have to be done?
- How much does it cost to do it?
We all talk about time management and how in “this year … I will manage my time better”; however, the question becomes, can you really manage time? After all, we each get 24 hours a day. So instead of managing time, modify your strategy to change how you manage your life in the 24 hour gift you are given each day. For example, if you look at your life in five categories: spiritually, mentally, physically, financially and socially and the goals you have for each of these areas in order to achieve the balance you need to have a long life, what would you do differently?
Spiritually – are you spending enough of your 24 hour gift focused on your purpose in life? How will you know if you’ve completed the specific vision assigned to you while on earth if you do not spend some time focused in this area?
Mentally – are you recharging your left and right brain on a daily basis? If it is true that a human only uses 10-15% of his/her brain then there is room to enlarge your mental capacity – for some of us there is a lot of room to grow in this area!
Physically – how’s your diet, exercise, recreation, relaxation and life expectancy? There are so many venues available today to improve our health – something as simple as talking a walk every day will change your physical being and your outlook on life.
Financially – isn’t there anything you want to do this year in the financial arena? Save an extra 20%, make an extra 20%, start a business, buy real estate. What will you do differently in 2011 to improve your financial condition?
Socially/Relationally – were you as good of a friend as you could have been last year? Where there unkept promises? How can you spend more time with your spouse, children and extended family? How can you make new friends? I recently read that one way to increase your life in all the above areas is to modify the groups of people you hang out with … don’t walk away from old friends (keep them) … just look for new friends who will stretch your life viewpoint. If you’re a sports fan – look for a friend in the arts. If you want to run your own business one day – look for a new friend who already runs a successful business. It may be uncomfortable at first; however, after a while you will notice a change in how you view life – PLUS have new friends!!!
To get started – simply identify three goals in each of the above areas, map out your plan and activate your plan. Your time on earth is precious – being more strategic in how you manage your life with the gift of 24 hours a day – is up to you! Set clear, specific goals, not vague ones such as “be happy” or “have lots of friends” or “make lots of money”. You must really want to achieve them, or you won’t. To set your goals, and realize your potential, answer these questions:
1. What do I really want?
2. What activities do I find most satisfying?
3. What would I change about your life?
4. What do I think about most — is it positive or negative?
5. What will I sacrifice for my goals?
6. What one step should I take now?
Now that you have this, find time each day to go on a mini-vacation – right at your desk!
Cook (1999) shares the following suggestions for relaxing interludes to help keep you grounded, energized and refreshed:
1. The breath break – Take a moment to breathe, as you would in a yoga class
2. The continental drift – Mentally revisit a relaxing and fulfilling place
3. Picture it and get rid of it – Form a mental image of whatever is bothering you the most. Place the image in an imaginary bubble and watch it float away
4. The shoulder shrug – Rotate shoulders in alternating directions to relieve tension
6. The object of your affection – Keep photos of loved ones nearby to help you keep focused and find strength.
7. Advanced resting technique, for the gifted and talented – Combine deep breathing with another mini-vacation activity
Allen (2003) recommends that you keep one commitment on your mind at a time. Your mind keeps track of every commitment you make. Jobs undone linger in your subconscious. Clear your mind by writing these things down and consciously making decisions about handling them. Set up agendas and action steps. If you do not write out your commitments you will be frustrated and anxious.
Some other strategies you can use include: planning some quiet, solitary time with nothing to do; meditating and letting your mind rest; taking a refreshing walk, taking off your watch after work and leaving your mobile phone/email delivery tool in the car.
Some closing thoughts to keep in mind!
The key to controlling your life is controlling your time. Begin your day by identifying your highest priorities as an essential step toward time and life management. Align your daily practices with your identified governing goals and values and you will experience inner peace (remember that your current behavior is a reflection of your core beliefs, values and goals). Keeping these beliefs in line with reality will assist you in satisfying your higher level needs. Remember that leaving your comfort zone is uncomfortable but it is a necessary step in your quest to accomplish any goal. You can leverage your time by investing a small amount each day in planning. You will enjoy the returns on that investment all day long.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Business Strategist, Trainer, Author & Speaker, Dr. Stephanie Parson is the president of Crowned Grace International. She and her team deliver over 35 Leadership: From Ordinary to Extraordinary™ (L:FO2E) workshops around the world. Workshops focused around their leadership methodology: Lead Self, Lead Teams & Lead Organizations. Over 2000 global leaders have attended one or more of Crowned Grace’s L:FO2E programs. Dr. Parson has also held executive level roles at Walt Disney World (Vice President), Parsons Brinckerhoff (Vice President & CIO), The Seagram Company (Director) and as a commissioned officer in the US Air Force. For more information, contact Dr. Stephanie and her team at firstname.lastname@example.org.