Own Your Time Own Your Life
What Is Time?
What is time? For some people time flies. Have you ever been to a concert or show and before you knew it it was over. It was almost like the time didn’t exist. But then you’re sitting in a lecture and you look down at your watch and you’re 15 minutes into the lecture and you think, “Oh man! I have another couple hours to go…” and you dread the time.
Professional and Personal Balance
We all struggle with time management to some degree. But some people really suffer from balancing time in their professional life and their personal life. Often times one area suffers at the expense of the other. So how do we have balance and success in both areas of life? How can I feel incredible successful in my professional life and in my personal life.
First, I get that the two are really one but I’ve divided it into two because these two categories are often in conflict with each other. Professionally I’m speaking about was you do for a living. Your job! Personally I’m talking about family life and those who are important to you and your health. If a person is spending a lot of time focused on their professional life often their family life suffers, or if they are doing great inter family life their physical health is suffering.
Where do you spend your time?
In Stepen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he has a quadrant for time management:
- Urgent but Not Important
- Urgent and Important
- Not Urgent and Not Important
- Not Urgent and Important
In these categories we spend our time so let me break it down for you.
Urgent but Not Important
Have you ever received a text message and felt you had to respond to it right then? You’re sitting at the dinner table or out with a friend for coffee and you’re enjoying your time and then your phone “beeps” or “buzzes?” Your eyes look to see who it is and what the message says. For whatever reason we feel we have to respond to it right then…after all it’s only a quick response. Or you’re in the middle of a project and the phone rings and you feel you have to answer right then because it creates an urgency and “what if” it’s important? Better get it!
If you live in this quadrant you’re allowing Other People’s Demands to create a sense of urgency in your life that is not important…at least not important in that moment.
So what can you do?
- Identify the things, the people or the circumstances in your life that you allow to create this urgency. Write them down on a piece of paper or on the computer.
- Ask yourself, how do these things effect my relationships with others (Spouse, kids, friends, co-workers)? How do you feel when you’re in a conversation and the other person is distracted by their phone, email, text?
- Decide to take control of this area of your life and give your full attention to those people or projects that matter most in that moment.
One of the greatest gifts you have to offer a person is being present in that moment.
Or one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is being focused on what truly matters in that moment.
Urgent and Important
This is what I call The Stress Box. In this quadrant a person is always in reaction mode. It could be the car breaks down and it’s urgent and important to get it fixed. The baby is screaming…an email comes in from the boss requesting a report…or you’ve procrastinated on a project and the deadline is tomorrow. Some people thrive in this box because they are deadline driven but think of how productive they could be if they were not always emotionally behind the eight ball. Much of this category is out of your control but there are many time-management stressors that live here for the unplanned person – Procrastinator!
So what can you do?
- Ask yourself, how much more productive do you think you could be if you didn’t wait till the last minute? Be honest!
- What areas in my professional life and personal life do I wait till the last minute on? How would life look if I was ahead of the game? How productive would I be? How would my relationships be?
A gift you can give yourself identify those areas and make changes so you’re in control of your time rather than time being in control of you.
Not Urgent and Not Important
Welcome to the Escape Zone. Life is busy and there are a lot of stressors so this is the place many people go to to escape reality. It’s a place for a mental and emotional break from the day to day grind. We all need a break but what happens in this quadrant is we stay in it too long. How often do you think, “I’m just going to check my social media accounts for 5 minutes?” Then two hours later all you need to get done has been put off for a later date. Or I’ll just watch a little TV – 3 hours later. This is the greatest time waster zone. If not careful, you can spend too many hours here and not being fully present in the realities of life or make the necessary changes to make the stressful realities of life better.
So what can you do?
- Write down all the things you do that are not urgent and not important. Make a list.
- Once you have your list give each item a time value. I spend X amount of time on social media per day. I spend X amount of time watching TV per day.
- Add up the time and multiply it by the number of days. How much time per week do you spend in this zone? What does that equal per month? Wow! You might have found the extra 10 hours or 20 hours needed to exercise, or the extra time to go out on a date or spend time with your kids.
- How will you spend the time you found?
The gift you can give yourself is remove these time wasters and fill them time with more productive things that will grow you and grow your professional life and/or personal life.
Not Urgent but Important
This is the Sweet Spot of your life. IF you can live 50%+ in this spot you will thrive. Life is full of seasons and we know when those seasons are coming and we prepare for them in advance, but when it comes to our friends and family we often wait till the last minute to plan birthday parties, pay our taxes yet they come at the same time every year. If a person can master this sweet spot of life where they are well planned and scheduled for events, projects, and quality time with the people they care about think of how fulfilling your life can be.
So what can you do?
- Complete all the above quadrants then
- Ask yourself, “If I was more organized, scheduled, and planned, what would my life look like? How would I feel? How would those around me feel?
- Would I be more productive? Would I experience less stress or more?
- Write out who are the people most important to me? How much time am I spending with them? What projects or deadlines do I need to meet? Write down the deadlines.
- Place them all on a calendar. Get them out of your head and in front of you.
- Set times for being with your kids, spouse, or loved one.
- Act on it!
The gift you can give yourself is to structure 10 minutes a day to plan your day or plan your week. To evaluate what deficits are there in your life and identify what you need to do to make deficits into masterful deposits. Do this in both your professional life and personal life and see how the quality of your life will change.