Have you ever found yourself at the end of a busy day wishing there were just a few more hours left so you could get more stuff done?
Or maybe you’ve experienced that sinking feeling at the end of the day on Friday, staring at a list of unfinished to-do items, wondering how the week flew by so quickly. Rest assured, you are not alone.
Bookstore shelves and online resources are filled with information meant to help us manage our time better through various techniques, such as organizing our desks, filing paperwork properly, planning meetings with agendas, delegating to others, avoiding interruptions in our day, handling phone calls and emails quickly, using Post-It notes more effectively, etc. Do these techniques help? The honest answer is probably “somewhat… but not enough.”
These techniques aim to help us manage time, but in reality, we cannot manage time at all. The concept of “time management” is actually a misnomer. After all, can any of us change the fact that there are 60 minutes in every hour, and 24 hours in every day, and 7 days in every week?
If we cannot manage time, how can we possibly regain a sense of control in the midst of our busy lives and hectic schedules? As you may have guessed, the solution is to better manage ourselves.
Let’s consider this alternative view by asking three questions.
1. What is your purpose?
2. What are your values?
3. What is your vision?
If we cannot manage time, then we must think about how we can manage ourselves. We can change what we do in any given hour, day, or week. We can decide whether to continue spending (to use up, exhaust, or consume) our time, or whether to begin investing (to make use of for future benefits or advantages) our time.
What is your purpose?
Do you know your purpose in life? If you knew you had only one year to live, what would you do differently? Why? What is important to you? How would you want to be remembered by your family, friends, and colleagues? Now, imagine that you were guaranteed many more years to live. How would the future be different from your current situation? Everyone has a purpose in life. This purpose, as you perceive it, establishes the foundation from which you think and behave. This perception of your purpose shapes your attitudes and helps to determine your goals. When you have a clear purpose in life, decisions about how you use time become easier to make. Certain things become more important than others. You begin investing time more often, rather than just spending it.
What are your values?
What principles do you use to make decisions in life? Your values are the morals, ethics, and standards that are important to you. They shape your perception of what is right and true, and generally do not change over time. What gives your life meaning? What do you believe? What do you value? Clarifying your values will help you make better decisions and help to reduce stress in your life. Choices about spending and investing time also become easier to make when you have clearly understood values.
What is your vision?
Where will you be and what will you be doing in 1 year… 5 years… 10 years? What will you need to do differently in order to get there? How will you need to change in order to get there? The vision you have for your future also affects the way you think, make decisions and choose to take action (or not) which determines how you use time now.
Clarifying your life’s purpose, affirming your values, and crystallizing your vision will have a significant impact on how you use the minutes that remain in this hour, the hours that remain in this day, the days that remain in this week… not to mention the weeks that remain in this year, and the years that remain in this lifetime.
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