By Michael Gunther
I don’t know about you but I’m always trying to find another hour or two in our 24 hour day. I haven’t been able to create a 26 hour day quite yet, but I know when I feel like I need a couple of extra hours a day to ‘get caught up’ it’s always a trigger point to evaluate my time management skills.
I’ve read the numerous time management books and have attended my fair share of time management seminars and talks. These resources are always valuable for picking up a new idea or being reminded of a time management strategy that maybe I once employed but has since fallen by the way side.
The first thing I do to recapture control of my time – in fact I did this last week – is to identify in writing where I’m spending my time and where I believe I’m falling behind in tasks or relationships in spending needed time. This simple task can be revealing. Last time I performed this task, I realized I wasn’t spending enough time on business development for my business 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 always 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 just ice cream).
I believe that I’ve lost my focus taking care of myself in a few of these realms. In doing so, I know I become less effective with my time and other areas of my life because my stress levels tend to become elevated, which leads to poor eating habits, which leads to poor concentration – you get the picture.
The second step is to begin 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 smart phones 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 weekends – not working weekends.
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 being solution-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 I have to take to get back in balance.
1) Writing 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.
2) Start exercising on a regular basis, not just when I can fit it in, but with actual scheduled time. This truly helps relieve any stress I may have related to work.
3) Eat more veggies, veggies and more veggies. 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.
4) Setting boundaries on work emails and texts – no work emails or calls before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. weekdays – a simple but effective way to focus on ensuring downtime.
The Bottom Line
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 balancing the time in your day the way you want.