This past month, I’ve really been focusing on ways to improve my time management. Ah… time management. It’s that one thing that so many of us struggle with. Calendars, command centers, phone alarms and reminders, etc. – but that’s only just a tiny part of it.
We’ve all heard that we must “make time” for things that are important to us, but how do we do that? We cannot physically make more time, can we? We ALL have only 24 hours in a day, so how do some of us manage to “get it all done,” while some of us struggle to accomplish just one thing on the to-do list and are completely exhausted at the end of the day? An extra 2 hours aren’t going to appear at the end of the day.
It all boils down to intentionally setting boundaries on your time, on your priorities, and making choices which reflect that. Christy Wright has helped me remember those things, and this is one of my favorite reminders:
You can get more of almost anything you want. If you want more money, you can earn it. If you want more stuff, you can buy it. If you want more friends, you can find them. Heck, even hair can be substituted with implants, wigs or extensions!
But no matter who you are or how much money you have, there’s one thing in this world you can’t get more of: time.
~Excerpt from How to Have More Time from Christy Wright’s Business Boutique blog.
This is so true, and I love what Christy said about using our time wisely during an interview on The Small Business Podcast:
Many people spend time in their lives on things they don’t care about, things that aren’t important to them. Things that steal their time from those things that are important and so we say things like this, “I love to work out, but I don’t ever have the time to. I value spending alone time with my spouse, but we can never make our schedules line up,” or, “I love playing with my kids, but by the time I get home, I don’t have the energy to.” And the truth is, when you can’t spend time in your life on what’s important to you, you’re going to be stressed and frustrated and angry because you have an inconsistency in your life between what you care about and what your life really reflects.
So, what I try to do is help people bridge that gap. I help them reduce the gap between what they care about and what their life reflects. And instead, spend their time only on the most important things. Now a big piece of this is cutting out some stuff you don’t care about. So that means saying no when you don’t want to go to an event.
Quit wasting time on Facebook or watching reality TV. Quit giving up your precious time to these things that aren’t really important to you in the grand scheme of things.
Personally, I’ve been saying for many years that in order for me to get everything done that needs to be accomplished in a day, I need to wake up at 4 am. I was exaggerating, but not by much. In order for me to make time to study my Bible, work on my business and my blog, get dressed, make breakfast, wake up the children and begin their homeschool day, and then tackle the housework and prepare dinner along with many other things that come up in a day’s time, I definitely need to wake up earlier than 6:30-7:30 a.m. There’s too much that needs to be completed, although sometimes some things just won’t be, and I understand that.
I’ve always had a difficult time waking up extra early just to do it. I guess I never had a good enough reason. Extra time for self-improvement? Now, that might be enough, but maybe it wasn’t? My pillow has been calling my name since I was a teenager, and it hasn’t let go since. I’m not a morning person, and I never was. I don’t wake up easily. I’m not a lazy person at all, I’m just really tired in the mornings. I also don’t go to bed and fall asleep early enough, therefore, another reason I have trouble in the morning. I have a million excuses as to why I “can’t” wake up early. Instead of boring you with those, I’ll share with you what has happened last week.
I’ve had enough, and it was time to get the ball rolling with some things I need to do extra in my life. No one is going to get it done for me except me. It was time to start forcing myself to get up earlier – and I did.
I did it! And I had the energy to do it.
I decided that enough was enough, and I was reminded of how David encouraged himself in the Lord after his entire family was killed, and he was physically defeated. (1 Samuel 30). For 5 days in a row, I woke up between 5-5:30, and I had 2 full hours of productive time (Bible study, blogging, working on my business, etc). My days have been more productive, and I’ve felt more motivated. I was scared that I’d be so exhausted from this, but it turns out that when you are doing something that you love, you are more likely to have more energy from it. Now, my focus needs to be going to bed earlier!
In order for us to use our time wisely, I believe it is exactly like using our money wisely. If we only spend money on things that are important to us, we will have spent our money wisely, and therefore, seem to have more of it left over. The opposite is true as well. If we spend most of our money on things that don’t really matter to us, we will feel like we never have enough money to cover the things that are really important. We may also feel as though we are not accomplishing anything with our money if we are not solely using it on things we deem most important. Saying “No” to certain purchases, will allow you to say “Yes” to more important purchases.
I spent many years of my adult life saying “Yes” to way too many things and not saying “No” to enough things. By living this way, I ended up in a place where I wasn’t all too thrilled about my choices. Surely, this was a learning curve for me. By choosing only the most important for the moment, we’re able to accomplish far more than we could imagine.
We have to learn how to say “No” to things that aren’t as important as the more important ones. It is actually our responsibility to say “No.” As Christy says, an honest “No” is always better than a dishonest “Yes.” Even if we feel like every single thing is important, every single thing is not most important in the general scope of things.
For example, my son’s travel baseball team has scheduled a small tournament this Saturday that was not on the original schedule. During baseball season, we have to pretty much schedule our life around the baseball team’s schedule or he cannot be on the team. If we want him to be prepared to play baseball in high school or even college (which is his goal), then we have to make it a priority when it comes in season. On this same day, we also have a once-a-month family day at Ernie’s granny’s house that was scheduled about one week before the baseball tournament was scheduled. Both of these things are very important to us, but only one can make the cut. Fortunately, we will be able to make both events, but we will be late getting to family day.
There is no generalized wrong or right answer for what each family should do, so we have to make that decision according to what’s most important for our family.
Last year, we made a choice to travel up to Arkansas to visit a cousin and watch her boyfriend’s college football game at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. They’ve been there for two years, and we’ve yet to make a trip up there for a visit. They are really important to us, but the spring and fall seasons are busy times for us – more than we even realized until last year. We had many other things going on at the time, and I was reminded of how much we really wanted to visit and catch a game. If we really and truly wanted to, our time must reflect that. In this case, we also had to say “No” to some other things that were going on at the very same time in order to “make time” for the priority. We are so glad we made the trip!
There are no excuses worthy of what’s more important – it just is or it isn’t, and our choices reflect that. This Saturday, our son’s baseball tournament is more important than being on time for a once-per-month family day – at that moment. Some would say they are equally important. They are, but still, the most important and urgent thing is where our time is going to go for that moment.
We may not realize it, but we are faced with choices like this on an almost daily basis. Are we going to choose cereal or fruit, watching TV or reading a book, sleeping later or working out, completing a house repair or scrolling through social media? Focus on what we are gaining by our choices, rather than what we are losing.
Our time is precious, and we have to face the fact that we can’t always do it all.
We have the responsibility to protect what matters in our own life.
Check out this great short video of Christy sharing the importance of reclaiming your time.