How Do You Spend Your Time?
We cannot manage time. Because it cannot be changed it cannot be managed. We simply get the same 24-hours in a day as everyone else. However, what we can control is how we spend those 24-hours. When something must be sacrificed many of us make the worst decisions. We give up sleeping, eating, and exercising. Therefore, stress is a key factor in health issues.
Today, we have more information coming at us faster than we ever have in history. People feeling the pressure from the barrage may say these phrases; “I am too busy.” “I am so stressed out.” “I don’t have time.” “I just need a minute.” I know them well. I was them. I felt out of control, tired, and like a failure most of the time. If this is you, too. You may relate to this image.
I knew there had to be a better way. I read time-management books. I attended courses. I read blogs. I just had to find a solution. What I discovered is that I did not have as much TO DO as I had TO DECIDE. Making decisions vs. doing work was a vastly different mindset. Have you ever made a list of To-do’s only to complete half of it and move the other half to the next list? How many of those items on your list do not get done because you have not decided on the next step? How much time do you spend writing lists? How much time do you spend re-writing lists?
Time, like money, is something we spend. We choose what to do with a minute the same way we decide what to do with a dollar. I am a self-described Business Nerd. A budget is something with which I am comfortable. A budget is something I can control. It is something I can manage. So, if time is something I spend then what I really needed was a time budget.
I sat at my desk combing through my pile of papers, digital inboxes, social media, etc. I began sorting each item based on one simple question, “Is this actionable?” I was surprised that the pile of items in the non-actionable pile (DECIDE SIDE) was larger than the actionable pile (BUDGET SIDE). Some items were digital, and I had placed them on a digital list. Some were notes from school, artwork, programs, etc. I had digital lists and a physical pile. I already felt lighter after this five-minute exercise.
On the DECIDE SIDE there are four decision categories; Throw Out, Keepsake, Reference, and Someday. Starting on this side allows you to clear your mind before moving over to what needs to get done.
You may find you are holding on to invitations or other items because you have not made a decision. If you are looking at an item that has no action, it does not have the importance of a keepsake, there is no educational value to reference, or has no inspiration for something you want to accomplish in the future, let it go. These are items that are weighing on you while they hold no value. It is okay to make the decision to let things go. You do not have to keep everything.
These are items that hold memories. They are items with sentimental value. I have a filing drawer organized by year where I place these items. My children have keepsake boxes they decorate and place these items in.
These are items with educational value that you will need to refer to later. Insurance policies, receipts, or other items you will need to file taxes, recipes. I have a filing cabinet where I keep all these items for quick access when I need them. I recommend a fire safe area as these are the important papers you will not want to lose if a disaster strikes.
It is well to hope and dream. These are items that you will not be doing today or at this stage in your life. These are important items for the future. Having a place to set them down will prevent you from carrying them with you each day as reminders of what you are not yet ready for.
Sorting through the physical pile and digital list of items on the DECIDE SIDE took about ten minutes. This created, for me, a sense of being lighter and clearer. I knew the important items were in a place I could find them when needed. And I was released of the pressure from the items I no longer needed. You should now feel more prepared to create your time budget for the items that need to get done. Budgets can be created in a digital or handwritten format. Use what works best for you.
On the BUDGET SIDE there are four action categories; Do It, Delegate, Schedule, Plan. When sorting this pile of items, it is important to ask three important questions:
How long will this task take?
Who is the best person to complete this task (it might not be you)?
Do I need to break this item into smaller tasks?
If an item will take you less than two minutes – Do it! Do not spend time writing it down. Just act and get it completed. These are items that will take you longer to budget for than they would to just complete. Do it now.
If an item will take more than two minutes AND would be best to have completed by someone else, delegate it. Ask them to do it for you while explaining why they are the better person for the job. Give them a date or time for when you would like the task to be completed. It is important to let them respond and explain if there is a more reasonable amount of time that task can be completed based on their schedule. These items can stay on your budget with the amount of time to complete, person you have delegated to, and the date it is to be completed.
If an item will take more than two minutes AND you are the best person to do it. Put it on your budget with the time needed to complete. Group like tasks (yardwork, housework, etc.) Blog time in your calendar to complete this list of times. These items go on your budget with the amount of time to complete and the date you have them scheduled.
These items are usually too big and need to be broken down into smaller tasks. Consider what needs to be the very next action you can take on this task. If any of them can be completed in two minutes or less – Do it! The other tasks get broken down to be delegated or scheduled.
Completing this exercise, you have a better concept of the time you will spend completing everything you need to action in less than thirty minutes. You will have the tasks completed, assigned to the best person, or schedule to ensure you have the time needed to complete the items.
The first time I worked through this method it took me about two hours. I needed the time to set up folders, design my budget format, and the pile was much larger. I now complete this every morning in about twenty minutes or less. Shifting my mindset from having so much to do toward I have decisions to make has allowed me to take a deep breath. I do not feel as overwhelmed. Shifting my mindset from time management to a time budget has allowed me to clear my mind.
I encourage you to try this method to also, take a deep breath and clear your mind. Let us help one another reduce stress and improve our health. No more sacrifices to our health.