Do you find yourself ridiculously stressed because you never get through that massive To Do list; there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done; and the stuff that you really want to do, that makes your heart sing, you never quite get to because you’re always on the treadmill doing the routine stuff and maintaining the status quo? If so, I bet you think “I need to sort out my time management” but I say what you really need is to get back to your purpose.
The big things that you need to do to move you towards your vision, the stuff where the growth, learning and challenge is, that’s the stuff where the joy and passion in life lies. Ask yourself, what is it that you are prepared to spend your time, energy and money on? What are you prepared to lose sleep over and give up a social life for? I bet it’s not house chores, grocery shopping, paying bills and mowing the lawn.
So how do you make time for the big stuff in amongst the routine, day-to-day maintenance tasks that seem to take up so much of your day? You have to make some tough decisions and be prepared to say “no”. Here are some suggestions that might help:
- Negotiate deadlines: If someone asks you for something and it doesn’t fit with your schedule, ask them when their absolute last-minute acceptable deadline is. There may be some leeway.
- Delegate tasks: Asking someone else to do something for you could be uncomfortable, particularly if you believe they won’t do it as well as you or if you believe it implies that you can’t cope but the fact is that if you want more time on your schedule you’re going to have to hand off some of the more menial tasks – and accept that the results may differ from your own! Remember: your time and energy is better spent on the big vision stuff. Your future is worth more than what you’re doing in the moment.
- Accept less than perfect: You may not be able to spend the time you normally spend on some tasks and you may have to lower your standards of output to allow you more time to spend on the vision development work but remind yourself of what is really important in the long term: your vision.
- Be prepared to disappoint people: Most people won’t stop liking you just because you can’t spend time doing what they ask. They might be disappointed but they probably won’t dislike you and if they do, then they don’t respect your needs and your time so it’s not much of a loss.
- Be prepared to give up some activities: Some things aren’t compatible with your higher vision for your life and you have a choice to make. If something is eating up time but not moving your towards the life you want, is it something you really want to spend time on? Can you cut it down or cut it out completely? There’s nothing wrong with a little down time but be aware of the difference between relaxing and slacking off or procrastinating.
If you have difficulty in implementing these suggestions have confidence in your vision, in yourself, in your ability to do these things and still be liked by other people. Trust in your ability to make these decisions, to set your priorities and your boundaries and know that by doing this you are building towards a better life for yourself and restoring the joy that you’ve lost being stuck in routine chores.
The secret to time management, my friends, and a happier life, is holding onto your purpose and going after it with everything you’ve got.