60 minutes an hour. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. We are dealing with pretty set concepts here, and ones that all of us share. Why, then, is it that some families are able to get what they need to accomplish done, saving time for leisure and family pursuits, while others never are able to get ahead? For those of us who have trouble with time management, how do many of us combat the demands on our time? We compensate with reactions that can compromise either our health or well being.
- 1. Sleeping less.
- 2. Spending less leisure time.
- 3. Eating on the run.
- 4. Driving too fast.
Managing Our Time
Take Inventory. Like money, the time that you waste (or don’t use efficiently) is gone forever. And like your finances, knowing where your time is going now is the only way you will ever be able to change how you are spending it. Take a “time inventory” for a week. Mark down all of your activities and how long you spend doing each of them. This need be nothing more than a notebook, kept on a daily basis, that keeps track of your time expenditures. For example:
Preparation and lunch
Find your “Time Holes” Those are the activities that take the longest to complete but have the least benefit. An example of a “Time Hole” is spending an hour and a half combing the house looking for a lost $2.00 toy. Not only is the loss of time counter-productive, your “hourly wage” is probably worth more than $1.33 ($2.00 for the toy divided by 1 1/2 hours searching for it). Time holes are often money holes too!
Prioritize. It’s common sense, but few people are able to carry it off. Concentrate first on things that:
1) Have the most pressing demands
- 1. Health issues
- 2. Repairing dangerous items
- 3. Paying bills
- 4. Are necessary to maintaining your job
2) Contribute meaningfully to the welfare of the family
- 1. “Family Time”
- 2. Teaching children
- 3. Improving our job performance
3) Those items that can be put off until a “better time” (especially those items that others “dump” on us–when they could better be handled on their own!)
Forget Perfectionism. If it takes 2 hours to “perfect” what should take 30 minutes to “do right,” why waste the time? It is far better to complete 5 tasks adequately than to do a single one to absolute perfection and leave the other 4 undone (this is when tasks and projects “back up” and we feel time stress breathing down our necks.
Learn to Delegate. Don’t say “it’s better if I just do it myself” when doing so does not leave you enough time to complete the tasks you need to do. Yes, it is true that delegation will require training and monitoring of those to whom you delegate, but generally, once the training has been completed, it is almost always easier to monitor a task than it is to do it yourself. Who do you delegate to? Spouses and children who are capable of doing certain tasks (but who often seem to want to leave the tasks to you!)
Do. Don’t talk. You’ll get a whole lot more accomplished if you simply plan your tasks and then do them. We often spend so much time talking about an activity–to our spouses, children, friends and neighbors–that we actually steal time (or force it to a later time) from the task itself. Do it. Get it done. Get over it!
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