The world we live in today can have us so wrapped up in one event after another that we can easily lose track of time. Many of us have delayed meeting several life milestones, completing a goal, taking a much-needed vacation or making that life-changing decision because we are under the impression we have time.
Time is one of life’s most precious gifts. Yet, it is also one of the top things we often take for granted. Time, unlike money, cannot be earned or given back after it has been spent. In real estate we have heard it said, it’s all about “location…location…location”. Well in life, it’s all about, how you are using your time. So how do we, as busy professionals find practical ways to handle the gift of time?
One of the first and most important reminders is to value your time. We know time is no respecter of persons, color, race, age or gender so we are called to honor it and give the respect due. Consider a new acronym for time that I have recently coined and defined for myself, time is “Thriving In Meaningful Experiences. Things that are meaningful are valued. The first step in creating value is to assess what time in your day, week, month and year are most valuable. Decide if you need to add or eliminate anything that does not bring value to you, your future goals or your family.
When you value your time, you own it. What you value you also measure, so it is important to take a deep dive into what you spend the most time on. This can be done by reviewing and tracking your daily schedule and routines. I know many of us have encountered this before, you looked up at the clock and said to yourself, “Where has the day gone? Time flew by and I didn’t even get what I needed done”. Bottom line, we cannot afford to waste time. Additionally, you can create value by taking the time to plan for birthdays, graduations, upcoming anniversaries, or specific goals that you want to achieve. In doing this, you prioritize the time for these occasions and the people associated with them.
Always make time for yourself
In our fast-paced society, where a successful woman “does too much”, of all the things we do well, the one area we are underachievers is making time for ourselves. Self-care is not just a revised mantra, it is truly a life concept we need to practice. We have a false perception that if we just keep going then we are more productive. The opposite is found to be true. Scheduling a “mental health” day to regroup and experience some TLC (tender, loving, care) makes you more productive.
You have a more clear- and level-headed mindset to make well thought out decisions. It also does not have to be a beach-bound 7-day vacation, it can be as simple as once a week, taking an hour-long bubble bath surrounded by your favorite music and no interruptions. It can be a peaceful 10-minute walk in the park before dusk or after dawn. It may be once a month, arranging for someone to watch your kids for half a day so you can pamper yourself.
Whatever you choose to do, it is not about running errands or completing a to-do list. It is creating time for you to be refreshed and rejuvenated. It is using the gift of time to invest in yourself and your wellbeing.
I enjoy being spontaneous, yet, I also understand the value of planning out your day. If you come across an unexpected moment to take in a breath of fresh air that is a remarkable opportunity. However, if this becomes a recurring event and you need to do this every day, then plan for it. Build it into your schedule. If it is important to you, schedule it. For, example if you need time to get acclimated to the day when you wake up, then set the alarm for a reasonable time that allows you to wake up and make preparation for the day. You may schedule 10-15 minutes to meditate or pray, 15 -30 minutes to stretch or work out and 25 minutes to choose an outfit, shower and get dressed.
Next step is to map out your day. Of course, there will be the unexpected request and turns that the day brings, however it is much more challenging to stay on track and get the top priorities completed if you have not outlined what they are. Additionally, it is very easy to say “yes” to adding something to your schedule for someone else when your calendar looks empty but is missing all the things you need to do. Creating a to-do list or road map is still my go to as the best reminder of what needs to be accomplished. If you know the day to day goals in advance, then create a schedule for the week; which may help you plan for the month. Although the goal is to stay organized, be open minded that if something gets changed or canceled you will need to adjust.
When you schedule your day or week, remember what you have slotted into your time frame is just as important as how much time you have set aside for it. For example, if you have a 15-30-minute window in between the next event, do not try to cram a new project that will require weeks to complete. You can use this time to plan out your steps or start the outline for the project but avoid frustrating yourself by starting an in-depth task in a short window of time.
Temptations of Technology
Who doesn’t enjoy the fact that almost anything we can think of is at the edge of our fingertips? You can go shopping, order a meal, schedule an appointment, post on social media, complete a presentation and watch a movie all from your phone. The possibilities are endless, however, so are the potentials for vanishing hours in time spent that is not always productive. I unequivocally agree it is truly amazing, that in only several clicks one can find great new recipes and work our routines to help your new healthy living lifestyle.
Yet, one can also spend hours aimlessly, learning about how someone spent every hour of their day as they post photos, images, stories and live stream. Enjoying the benefits of social media is not the issue, it is a lack of balance and boundaries placed on your time. There are great new features to track how much screen time you have spent, which can help you manage your time.
Boundaries and restrictions are essential to managing your time. If you allow people, they will manipulate your time. If someone unexpected shows up at your office, desk or cubicle and wants to chat, let them know “I would love to talk but I only have 5 minutes”. If you receive a phone call in the middle of an important project or presentation, you can simply answer, “Hi, I know what you have to say is important, however, I can call you back later, after 3 pm, when I can give you my full attention?”. Notice, I valued the importance of their time while respecting my own. I also gave them an expectation of a time when I would be available.
As a career woman, professional or entrepreneur, you want to uphold the reputation of “always taking care of business”. However, it is also important for us to make time for the things we enjoy doing. Money is not the only aspect that can bring us happiness, although financial freedom should be a goal. Enjoying time with your spouse, kids, family, friends and loved ones is vital. Time is a gift given to each of us, we are accountable for spending it on the worthiest causes and sharing with those most deserving.