Guide to Time Management
 
 
Guide to Time Management
Beginnings

This article is meant to be used as a road map or as a guide. You will want to use it as a rough draft of how to become successful in managing your time. We're going to examine both personal and work-related issues and unravel them so that they become manageable. We'll also look at how to find and create time for the things that make you smile, things that are special, but that you likely haven't had time to do.
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There are more demands on our lives every day. We end up juggling our time, and not too expertly.

We have "must-do's," "have-to's, and "needs-to-get-done's" piling up all over our lives.

The people in our lives want our time too, and that often seems to cut into our productivity time.

This article will give you some useful ideas, techniques, and steps to help bring more balance to your life.

It's not just about getting more done in less time. That alone isn't what brings peace or balance to our lives. Being "swamped" has become a normal, everyday occurrence for many. Time seems to have sped up over the past decade or two and, with that, we have more and more that "has to" get done. Things pile up before we know it. Telephone calls, last-minute meetings, and unexpected visitors interrupt and distract us from managing our agendas.

We're working longer, spending more time at work, and less time with family and friends. Managing time, prioritizing, and being effective are tools that help us live fulfilling lives. This article is about designing a plan that will let you begin to walk down that path.

How do things work?

How do we balance it all?

How do we manage our time – at work, at home, with kids, with spouses?

We'll examine a variety of factors during this journey. They are things like your beliefs, your values, the importance of goals, planning ahead, and various systems to help you keep track of commitments. We'll even look at the role that inspiration plays in creating success.

If you think that gaining skill in managing time is hard, think again. You already know most of the basics. This article is about making changes, some of which may be small, some larger. None of them are difficult to do.

There are some surprising elements that are important to successfully manage time. Staying calm and clear-headed are keys to time management. Operating from a panic or a frantic mode means you're less effective, and therefore less productive. Have you ever noticed that when you're in a hurry, it takes twice as long to get something simple done? Slowing down, even a little, will help you accomplish what you need to achieve.

Exercise:

Write down the following:

1. What do you want to get out of this program?

List at least three things.

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2. What is currently getting in the way of your being able to manage your time well?

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3. What have you done or tried, up until now, to help yourself manage your time? How well has that worked?

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Managing time is something we all want and need to do in order to be productive.

There's a cause and effect to managing time. If we do it well, if we're able to manage our time and commitments successfully, then a good portion of our time is freed up. Thus, we have more time to spend on things, or people, that matter to us.

If we mismanage time, we feel out of control, disheartened, and even depressed.

Being organized is crucial to being productive. How often do you search for your keys or your cell phone, wasting time that could have been spent doing something fun or productive?

If you're serious about becoming a master of managing time, then it's time to develop some new habits. Here are a few pointers to help you on the path to new habits:

1. Everything has a place. Decide which place to put the things you use regularly (i.e. keys, cell phone, chargers, etc.).

2. Put things where they belong every time.

3. Get rid of piles and clutter! Operating with "organized chaos" isn't really productive -- you only think so. Clutter actually saps both energy and focus, and that winds up slowing you down.

Take a moment and look around you. Where are you unconsciously putting up with stacks of things? Are there various stacks in different places or rooms? If you didn't have those stacks, if those things were organized and put away somewhere, you could always get to them easily. How would that make a difference in your day?

There are a number of organizing systems to help you unclutter, whether for your home or your office. Many department stores, large pharmacy stores, and office supply stores offer solutions. You can go online to find something that works. Make this purchase a priority. It's amazing how free you can feel, when the space around you is free of clutter.

Clutter can be a stressor. Getting rid of clutter is a great way to eliminate some of the stress in your life.

It is important to realize that there is no single way to successfully manage time. This article will present choices and options available to you. Your job is to do the work and then decide which option is best for you and your lifestyle.
Values and Beliefs

Beliefs are an integral part of what allows us to manage time well. Some may misinterpret this statement by thinking it refers to positive thinking. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Positive thinking is useful, but it is only a small step in this process. More than this, believing in ourselves is crucial to successfully managing time.

Let's look at that for a moment.

Consider your belief system. Our beliefs are often invisible, yet they are key factors in the decisions we make and the actions we take.

Beliefs can empower us to a great success, or stand in the way of our moving toward something we really want. Sounds simple, but recognizing our beliefs, much less than changing them, isn't always easy.

Let's start with something fundamental. We all have a little voice in our head. It tells us how we're doing; it can be a devastating critic or sometimes be our worst enemy. If you don't know what I am referring to, stop a minute. Close your eyes and be still.

Wait.

Notice a voice in your head saying something like, "This is stupid!" or, "What's happening?" or, "Why am I doing this?" THAT'S the voice that I am talking about. It's that voice that stems from our beliefs. It nudges and/or nags us according to what we really believe down deep, about ourselves and our abilities.

What does recognizing this belief have to do with managing time? Simply put, if your deep-held belief is that you don't think you can do something; it's going to take you twice as long to do it, than if you believed you could do that thing well.

Recognizing a negative belief is a valuable tool. It can free you to move beyond that thought or belief, so that you can begin to achieve more than you thought you could.

Exercise

List at least three beliefs you have, that you think slow you down or get in the way of you achieving more than you can now. Be specific. It's not about a feeling. It's a specific idea or thought that comes up regularly, each time you face a certain challenging situation. What is that thought? Write it down.

1. _____

2. _____

3. _____

4. _____

5. _____

Now think about what the opposite thought is, so that you could turn that negative idea or belief into a positive one, when it pops up. Write that down.

1. _____

2. _____

3. _____

4. _____

5. _____

What did you learn from this exercise? What can you use from this exercise to empower yourself the next time those negative beliefs rise up to grab you?

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Now that you are clearer about how beliefs can drive your thoughts and actions, let's look at the next factor that drives us.

What is important to you? What are the elements, factors, and values that drive your work ethic, your family structure, and your personal beliefs?

Whether you believe you can, or whether you
believe you can't, you're absolutely right. -- Henry Ford

Is integrity in your relationships important? What about honesty? How do compassion and kindness rate? How do cooperation and partnership rate?

These are just a few of the values that many people feel are important to aspire to and to have in their lives - both at work and at home.
Exercise:

Take a few minutes and list at least five values that are important to you. They can be personal, work-related, or both.

1. _____

2. _____

3. _____

4. _____

5. _____

6. _____

7. _____

8. _____

Values are what we use to determine what's important in our lives. If someone doesn't stand up to your value system, are you eager to hang out with them? Do you really want to work closely with them or will their values make that uncomfortable or even difficult to do so?

Many companies today, in formulating their mission and vision statements, look first at the values by which they run the company. They are the integral factors by which employees and results are measured.

Take another look at the values you wrote down. Are there deeper, more internal values that you find important in your life? Go back and add them to the list.

Now here's a tough question. Do you "walk the talk" when it comes to your values? Look at the different parts of your life – work, family, friends, even finances. Are you living up to, and demonstrating your values in your everyday actions?

For many of us, answering this question shows us up and reveals real gaps between what we value and what we do. Don't feel bad about it, or that you are wrong; BUT the question really is: What changes can you make that will have you live and work more authentically, more in line with the values you hold dear?

As we start being more authentic, living and working closer to the values we hold as important, something shifts. You may begin noticing people relating differently to you. Things may start to go more smoothly and be less frustrating.

The moment one commits,
Providence acts, too.
-- Goethe

If you work full time, when was the last time you looked at your company's values? Do they have a written mission statement that includes these values? Are other employees aware of them? Chances are pretty good that most employees are not. Yet, time and time again, studies show that when employees do know of, and align themselves with, their company's values, employee turnover goes down, while productivity and profitability go up. It's something to consider.

Managing yourself around your values is the first step in defining something equally important – your life purpose. Many people go through life either wondering what their life purpose is, or being too busy to think about it. Yet, defining this life purpose can help bring balance to the ups and downs that life regularly throws at us.

By the way, managing yourself by your values is not an overnight thing. Change takes time. It is a process with many steps. We will delve more into this, later.
 
 
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