By Michael Gunther
I don’t know about you, but I’m always trying to find another hour or two in my day. I haven’t been able to create a 26 hour day quite yet, but I know that when I feel like I need some extra hours to catch up, I need to reevaluate my time management skills.
I’ve read numerous time management books and attended my fair share of time management seminars. These resources are always valuable for picking up a new idea or being reminded of a time management strategy that has since fallen by the wayside.
The first thing I do to recapture control of my time is to write down where I’m spending my time and where I believe I’m falling behind in tasks or relationships. This simple task can be revealing. Last time I performed this task, I realized I wasn’t spending enough time on business development and people management within my own firm. The time before this, I realized that I was lacking quality time with family and friends.
This time around, I realized that I have not been spending enough time taking care of myself. My dad, Andy, used to say that it is important to always be feeding your soul, your mind and your body (a side note here – feeding the body means feeding your body with healthy food, not ice cream). When I don’t take time for myself, I become less effective with my time and other areas of my life because my stress levels elevate. This leads to poor eating habits, which leads to poor concentration – you get the picture.
The second step is to realize what is required to change or recapture the additional time I want to use in a particular area of my life or business. In this case, Andy’s Soul, Mind & Body methodology forces me to balance my work/life time – with smartphones and text messaging it feels like I can never escape the office. In order to make time for myself, I have to start implementing boundaries around my work time – no emails or calls before or after a certain time each day. Weekends need to be just that – leisure time, without any work.
Now that I realize where I need to focus, I always find it important to also define some specific goals or structure changes to my time. Without specific action items, people often never achieve any specific change since they are not focused on solving the issue. Identifying the issue is only half the battle. The larger half of the battle is actual implementation.
In this case, I have outlined four key steps to get back in balance:
- Write in my journal at least five times a week – this allows me to express myself without judgment and clears my mind to focus on what’s going on in my life.
- Start exercising on a regular basis, not just when I can fit it in. This truly helps relieve any stress I may have related to work.
- Eat more veggies, then eat some more. I never have a problem getting enough carbs or proteins in my life, but can quickly get away from eating the necessary vegetables. When my body is functioning well, I think and operate much better.
- Set boundaries on work emails and texts – no work emails or calls before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. weekdays. This is a simple yet effective way to focus on ensuring downtime.
We all have 24 hours in the day – no one has more, no one has less. It’s how we choose to manage this time on a day-to-day basis that allows us to achieve all that we want in a given day. Managing this time does take continuous practice and refocus, so remember to go back to the basics if you’re not properly balancing your time.