“I am juggling a lot right now. . . working crazy hours. . .trying to get home to read to the kids before bed. . .chairing the church hospitality committee. . ..Oh—and my business just hit a new profit high, so I’m launching a side business with a friend. My husband says he’s proud of me. He was a little disappointed yesterday, though, because I had to postpone a special night we planned together. . . .I need to host a dinner party for my major clients. . . . .” She brushed a wisp of hair from her forehead and murmured, “I guess I’m a bit overwhelmed.”
“Wow! You do have a full schedule,” I answered. “It sounds as if you’re moving just as fast no was we used to back in college.”
She let out a big sigh. “It’s even faster than that. I am so exhausted these days it’s hard to enjoy anything I’m doing. I miss my kids and I don’t want my husband to feel neglected.”She paused. Then she added with a wry look, “You probably think I need a life coach, don’t you?”
I laughed. “It does seem as if you’ve taken on enough work for a team of people.”
“Yes,” she said, I can’t seem to say, ‘any ’each and everything I’m approached with seems really important to the people presenting it to me. I want to shine in all aspects of my life; but my mind is always going at warp speed. I am so tired and confused that I’m afraid I’ll mess up. Lately, I feel as if I can’t do my best on anything. I think there’s something wrong with me.”
“Actually, you are pretty normal,” I assured her. “Life just keeps bringing us opportunities to clarify what is important.”
We chatted further and then she stood up with a laugh, “I’ve got to run. I’m already late for a meeting. I may just give you a call about a coaching session if you don’t mind.”
“I’m always open to that.”I smiled as I hugged her goodbye.
Why do so few of us seem to master the art of using our time in away that enables us to accomplish our goals and enjoy life as we do? As I asked myself that question, a story came to mind.
One day, a time management expert speaking to a group of business students used the following illustration to drive home a point. Standing before these high-powered overachievers, he announced, “Okay, it is time for a quiz.”
He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth glass jar and set it on the table in front of him. Next he produced about a tub full of fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was so full that not another rock would fit, he asked, “Is this jars full?"
"Yes,” a couple of students answered while others nodded their agreement.
"Really?" the expert replied.
Silently, he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel into the jar and shook it so the tiny stones worked themselves into spaces between the rocks. Then he looked up and asked once more, "Is the jar full?"
The class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them ventured.
"Good!" He responded. Now he brought out a container of sand and began dumping it into the jar. As he gently tapped the jar, the sand settled between the rocks and the gravel. When he asked again, "Is this jar full?" The class shouted, “No!”
He smiled his approval. Then he pulled out a pitcher of water and poured until the jar was brim-full. He looked at the class.
"What is the point of this illustration?"
One eager student quickly offered his conclusion: "The point is that no matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit more into it if you try really hard!”
The expert paused for a moment waiting for other responses. None were offered. Then he said simply, "No, that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is, if you don't put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all."
Time management is successful only when we know what is important to us and arrange our schedules in such a way that we honor our priorities —the things that have meaning and value for us. What is the point in gaining wealth and recognition if you lose your health and your family?
Here are a few key ideas on time management from a corporate seminar I offer called Manage & Maximize Your Time. They apply both professionally and personally.
Manage Your Schedule
Get clear on what is most important to you:
What are the “big rocks “in your life? Write your priorities down. Here are a few to consider: health, loved ones, your faith, your career, impact in your community. Remember, at the end of your life you won’t wish you had worked more or amassed more money, but you may wish you had spent more time investing in your well-being and the lives of those you love. Once your list feels right, schedule priorities first. Other time demands will fit around them.
Plan each day. Every morning look at your schedule:
Then, with your appointments in mind, write a to-do list beginning with tasks you consider most important. Business experts say that80%of the value is usually in the top 20% of the list. Concentrate on the top 20%.Tomorrow you can look back on items remaining and give them their appropriate place in your new day’s list.
Life happens while we are making plans. Allow time for interruptions and distractions. Time management experts often suggest planning no more than 50% of available time. With only half your time planned, you will be able to handle inevitable details and unplanned emergencies that come your way.
Learn to say “No” and delegate where possible:
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you” (Carl Sandburg, poet).Stay clear on your priorities. Respectfully decline requests and opportunities that pull you off track. If you are in a management position, get the most out of your team. By delegating, you are giving others the chance to learn and develop. If you have a spouse, ask for their help at home. Remember, people can’t read your minds. Ask for help when you need it!
Limit distractions and concentrate:
During time you have blocked out for big projects, close your door and turn off your phone, pager and e-mail. Give your current task your full attention. As millionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes observed, “One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.”
Break big projects into manageable tasks:
Break large, time-consuming assignments into smaller tasks. Work on them tasks by task until you get them all done. When you are facing a daunting project, practice the 15-Minute Rule. Set a timer. Work on one task for just 15minutes. By doing a little at a time, you will reach a point where you will feel the drive to finish. Start with the most difficult parts of projects, then the worst is done. You may find that some of the smaller parts fall away of themselves as the project develops or plans change.
Do it right the first time:
Pace yourself. Give your best. Doing a quality job may take more time upfront, but errors too often require corrections that consume more time than the project warrants.
Maximize Your Moments
Present. Regret and worry waste time and drain energy:
They prevent you from tapping into the power you have in the present moment. Rather than regretting your failures, look for lessons the past has taught you. Instead of worrying, give yourself fully to the people and the work at hand. By relaxing your mind and enjoying your work, you will find the inspiration and wisdom needed to handle any challenge one step at a time. If you give yourself fully to the minutes the hours, days, weeks and months will unfold naturally of themselves.
Take care of yourself:
Good health is the foundation for maximizing your time. If you feel well, you can do well. If you feel sick, life becomes a struggle. Get sufficient sleep. Eat right. Exercise regularly. Take mini-breaks. Close your eyes a moment and breathe deeply, stretch. A healthy lifestyle can improve your focus and concentration, which will help improve your efficiency so that you can complete your work with better quality in less time.
Have fun every day:
Do not take your life and yourself so seriously that you miss out on the enjoyment. Engage your senses. Appreciate the people you are with. Smile. Laugh. Celebrate the fact that you are alive. This new day is an opportunity to live full out. Don’t miss it!
Lee Lacocca, business icon, sums time management up in these words, “If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you 've got.”
Do so this week!
Food For Thought
“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week”
Patricia G. Omoqui 2011, All Rights Reserved
Patricia Omoqui, the Thought Dr. ™, is an internationally recognized inspirational speaker, life coach and author of Clarify Your Purpose and Live It. Patricia’s mission in life is to inspire people to move beyond fear so they can reach their full potential.
To share your thoughts about this article, please email Patricia at email@example.com or visit her at her website: www.patriciaomoqui.com