If Only You Had More Time

Be honest, how many times have you said that? Do you say it weekly, daily, or several times a day? That’s a red flag indicating that you are either not using any time management strategies or the ones you are using are not working for you.

Either way, time is ticking away and you are running to catch up. At some point, you just can’t run any faster, work any longer, or stay up any later. You have to get control of how you use your time each day.

You may insist that you don’t waste time, but take a serious look at how you use your time. Do you stretch your lunch an extra half hour or stop and talk to co-workers several times a day on the way to the copy machine?

Add it all up and there’s a potential hour or more of wasted time. What about personal phone calls or personal emails? There goes another half hour. Do you “take a few minutes” to surf the net on work time? Chalk up another half hour to hour or more.

You may be present at work but not using work time efficiently. You could be wasting anywhere from half hour to three hours of work time each day. Not only is that cheating your employer (or in the case of self-employment, cheating yourself), but it’s putting you behind in your work. So you take work home and get angry about it.

Then you look at the co-worker sitting across from you. She’s taking online university classes gradually working toward her graduate degree. Plus she plays tennis twice weekly for exercise and volunteers one weekend a month with Habitat for Humanity.

She leaves work on time most every day and her inbox is clear. She does it by consistently applying time management strategies. Yet she never appears rushed and you never hear her complain about not having enough time.

Chances are that your active, productive co-worker prefers to live life aligned to her goals rather than reacting to others. When you fail to make a plan for time use, then you’ll let other people fill your time.

“Hey, can you take me to the mall?” “Come on over and watch my new video.” “I’ll pick you up and we’ll just hang out for the day. You can do your work later, you have plenty of time.”

Those are the ways that you allow other people to use your time because you have failed to plan your time. If you ask your co-worker to hang out after work, she is more likely to say, “I have a paper to write for my class, so let’s pick another evening that works for both of us.”  She isn’t ignoring you, but she isn’t willing to let your lack of planning change what she needs to do according to her time management plan.

If you are still saying, “I wish I had more time” at home, then look around for ways that you waste time. Do you spend half hour in the morning searching for a particular shirt, finding it in the dirty clothes basket, then looking for something else to wear?

You need to plan your outfit the night before and put out all the pieces from shoes to shirt so you can dress quickly.  Place everything you need in one place near the door you exit each morning. You can also place your briefcase in your car the night before so you have less to think about before leaving for work.

Once you know how long it takes you for morning basics, then you take the frantic feel out of mornings. Next you can start to streamline your work hours. Work productively at work and save the personal items for your own time.

When you get your job done within the eight hours, then you have the evening for yourself and don’t need to stay late at the office. Who knows – you might decide to join your colleagues’ tennis group.

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