“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
We all struggle with using time wisely. In this age of instant communication and the expectation of giving or getting immediate results, we can often feel pulled in a million different directions at once making it hard to control our time or any other aspect of our lives.
There are many actionable time management tips in my toolbox, but today I wanted to share four “internal practices” that can help you not only manage your time but balance your life.
Know and Grow Your Strengths
Everyone has strengths. Get clear on what your strengths are and use them as often as you can. It is easy to get caught up in getting better at things that we are just not good at; instead focus on what you ARE good at and do MORE of that.
One way to begin is to take a very objective look at your skills and rate them from one (not strong) to ten (very strong). You can also ask five people who know you well to give you a list of what they see as your top three strengths. It helps to get an outside perspective and others may come up with things that you would not have thought of.
Focus on using and growing your strengths. When I work closely with clients on identifying their strengths and spending more time in their days using them, they find it is easier to be productive and successful, they have more fun, and they feel better about themselves.
Find A Goal and Why You Care About It
There’s a saying: If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s harder to get there.
Finding a goal—for this moment or this year—helps us focus our time and activities on achieving that particular goal rather than jumping from one thing to another with no clear end in mind.
Knowing “why you care” about your goal helps keep you motivated when moving forward gets a bit challenging. It will provide you with a clear reason to keep striving toward your target when the going gets tough and will help you do it more efficiently.
Leverage Your Procrastination
Believe it or not, our “inner procrastinator” can show us how to use time more wisely.
When you check emails or social media instead of focusing on that project or task, it can be in response to some emotion that you are trying to avoid. Catch yourself when you are procrastinating and identify the emotion that is triggering the avoidance. Once you get clear on the emotion, you can then figure out how to better manage it.
On the flip side, a little break which might look like procrastination can refresh us and feed our creativity. Sometimes your best ideas show themselves during down time.
We must learn what that inner procrastinator is telling us and act accordingly.
Stay in The Present Moment
This is a Zen-like way of saying, “Do one thing at a time.”
When you’re working on a task, give it your full attention. If you start thinking about family issues or your afternoon meeting, pull yourself back to the job at hand and keep doing that as needed.
You can’t solve those other issues at that moment, but you can complete what needs doing in the present moment. This is one of the most effective, and sometimes one of the toughest, ways to use time wisely.
We CAN have control of the seconds, minutes, and hours in our day to live both a balanced and successful life. Any one of these practices can help you get started.