I Don’t Have Time!
Happy New Year! Many of you have or are considering making New Year’s resolutions – things you would really like to do in the upcoming year. Historically, by the end of January, many people’s resolutions have been set aside, and what seemed a great idea at the beginning of January has gotten “lost in the shuffle”. Often, the reason people say that they sidelined their resolution(s) was that the resolution(s) would take too much time to accomplish.
One of the classes I taught in my training career was Time Management. A key takeaway from that class is that we all have choices as to how we spend our time, and when we “don’t have time”, we have made the choice to do something different than we originally set out in our resolutions that takes away the time we need to undertake the resolution.
Although I do not always abide by the entire model set out in that class, there are several basics that we need to consider if we want to get more done. Good time management takes planning.
Step 1: Make a list or diagram of your current commitments – work, family, Grange, etc. Then, for each major category of commitments, consider a new goal pertaining to that commitment for the upcoming year. For instance, a goal might relate to a vacation that you would like to take, or a goal might be to learn to play the guitar. These should be written down or placed on your commitment diagram or list. This activity usually would take no more than an hour of time.
Step 2: List the tasks associated with each commitment (how you meet the commitments). Also, determine the first couple of steps to reach your goals. Tasks and steps could be something that could be completed in a few minutes or might take many hours.
Step 3: For each task or step, determine when each must be completed and note this down for each task. Some might be daily, weekly, monthly, and others might have specific dates. Once you have completed this step, consider how you spend your time right now – are you doing some things that don’t relate to your commitments or goals? Consider taking steps to diminish time spent in this way.
Step 4: Lay out a full year calendar, allocating tasks and steps to each month, keeping in mind the “due dates” from the previous activity. This planning the full year would usually be done the last week of December just before the next year. This will not be in great detail, i.e., you might group together several tasks.
Step 5: During the last week of each month during the year, create a monthly calendar for the next month. Additional detail will likely be added in this step and in the next step.
Step 6: At the end of each week, create a weekly calendar for the next week. Lastly, At the end of each day, make a list of “to dos” for the next day. For most people, each day would have three “must dos”, and maybe a few more options. Some people like to make lists, so another option instead of the monthly and weekly calendar is to make a monthly “to do” list and a weekly “to do” list. For each day, you would spend no more than 15 minutes to make the next day’s list, and that same amount on Friday to make next week’s list.
The biggest challenge with this process is allowing it to be flexible. When new things come up, you need to consider if the new thing helps you meet a commitment or helps you reach a goal, and if it is more urgent than what you already have in your plan. As a result of new situations, your New Year’s resolution(s) may become not important at some point in the year. So, perhaps a new goal is set – but now, you don’t feel like you have failed, because you are using your time to best suit your needs!
We can not get more than 24 hours in a day, but we can make choices to use our time to best meet our goals and needs. Following even part of this process can help you drop out tasks that waste time, giving you the time to do what you really want and need to do. I would enjoy hearing about how this process worked for you.