How to improve time management skills

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How to improve time management skills

, Posted by Lily , In Growth,Life Purpose, By , , With 9 Comments

how to improve time management skillsAt one point or another, we’ve all wished for more hours in a day.

I am still awestruck sometimes by friends who manage marriages, families, nonprofits, professional careers, and volunteer activities on days when I can’t even find the time to buy chewing gum from the Walgreens 5 minutes away from my house.

In last week’s blog post, (which you can read here), I stressed the importance of having vision and discussed one thing you can do to keep your goals in front of you as a way to keep you focused and motivate you toward your dreams.

But this is only half of the battle. The other half? Time-freakin’-management.

You see, the secret to squeezing every millisecond out of life that you can is not really about adding more time to your day—it is about wisely budgeting the time you do have. We all get 24 hours after all, right? So what do successful people do with their time that makes them so…well, successful?

First, I want to drive home this point: whether or not you can successfully manage your time has little to do with how big your to-do list is and everything to do with how much you care about achieving your dreams.

Years ago when I was meeting with a life coach, one of the things we discussed was my apathy for my work. Through a series of probing questions, together we found that my apathy came from my lack of energy; my lack of energy came from my lack of eating (I only ate once a day back then); and lastly my lack of eating came from my frustration with God, with my life, and with myself. Essentially, I just didn’t care enough to take care of myself.

The same holds true with our time management skills. We all have the ability to make the most of each day—but you have to care enough about succeeding, advancing, flourishing, and really seeing your dreams come to pass.

Back in the early Spring, I was trying to finish the last leg of my novel. I could’ve easily succumbed to the excuse that my brain was too fried by work to even look at the manuscript (an excuse I’d used many times before), but eventually I cultivated a deep enough love for my dream of getting published and that turned into me waking up at 5AM every morning to squeeze in some writing time.

Again, you have to care enough about what you want to achieve! Time management isn’t for the half-hearted, the faint, or the excuse-makers.

So if you’re ready to ditch the sorry reasons as to why you don’t have time for this and that, then read on!

One of the biggest traps for ambitious dreamers like you and me who have a bagillion goals is that we tend to overwhelm ourselves with our to-do lists. I remember times when I’d jot down 30 different things I wanted to achieve in one day! This will only lead to burn out and stress. Instead, follow the three steps below:

1) Segmentation. As often as you need to, scribble down all the things you have to and want to do—from simple things like mailing Grandma Lucy her birthday gift to huge things like going back to school for your Master’s or starting yoga or cooking classes.

Next, it’s time to segment. Grab yourself a blank sheet of paper (or feel free to use a giant poster board) and write out the following segments: This Week, This Month, Three Months, Six Months, Sometime This Year. Then put each of your items into one of these categories.

This is a method I learned from my mentor Marie Forleo, and it has proven EXTREMELY helpful to me. Now, instead of piling every single ambition into one day, I allow myself to have laser focus on things based on how time-sensitive they are.

2) Make or Break’s. Another thing you want to do is decide on your make or break’s. Basically, if a lazy day pops up, you’re not going to agonize over lost time so long as you were able to accomplish your make or break’s. My own make or break’s (the things I absolutely must do on my days off in order to feel accomplished) are: spirituality (yoga/meditation/prayer), health & wellness (exercise), reading, writing, spending time with friends & family, and teaching (through my blog, live events, or webinars). I have 8 make or break’s total but these are the ones that will 100% fulfill me and make me feel good even if it’s been a somewhat lazy day. So compose a list of your own make or break’s and keep them before you.

3) Use Every Possible Moment. Look for free time in your day the way you used to look for spare change in couches as a kid (and maybe still d0 –hey, I aint mad atchya!). I wanted to listen to teachings during the day and found that my 30-minute commute to work would be a great opportunity to pop in a CD. Since I have a DVR, I sometimes simply record a show and later watch it just so that I can fast-forward through the commercials and save myself 15 minutes. Think about minor adjustments you can make in your own day that can purchase you some time here and there.

Time management, at the end of the day, is really just a matter of shifting your thinking. How much do you care about your dreams? How much do you really want to achieve your goals? In the comments below, share your own time management tips or one of the three suggestions above that you plan on implementing this week!

9 Comments so far:

  1. Crystal says:

    Time management! Such a hard, but essential part of life :0) Great tips. I like finding ways to combine activities, like walking in place in my living room while reading to get both exercise and reading in at the same time, or making sure I turn the dishwasher on either when I go to bed or when I go to work, that way I can take them out when I get home and don’t have to wait. I like the idea of segmenting your goals and figuring out what’s really essential to every-day life and what is something that you’d just like to do at some point in the next few months. I guess then it’s just a matter of motivation… :oP

  2. Lily says:

    Yeah, segmenting things has been extremely helpful to me! I used to put things that probably didn’t need attention until 6 months down the road onto my to-do list for the day. Definitely glad I don’t do that as much now! It’s so freeing to just do what’s necessary for the current 24-hour period.

  3. Leanne Richards-Williams says:

    Thanks again Lily for sharing your insights:

    Step number 1 (Segmentation) tends to get me overwhelmed, because though I am good at seeing the big picture and I’m foresighted, I just get overwhelmed by how I will get to accomplish them. So I do the reverse to this step: Right the overall goal, look at each goal and write the steps, then take-on each step one-at-a-time.

    Step number 2 (Make or Breaks) is my favorite and something that is new to me (Thanks). I believe that my make or breaks is
    1. Daily prayer and Bible study;
    2. Doing something adventurous;
    3. One daily act of random kindness.

    I have more to discover about what I don’t want to go a single day without doing.

    Step number 3 (Use Every Possible Moment) I will look out for more opportunities to do this.

    Thanks again Lily.

    • Jen says:

      This is such a helpful comment and I find this works for me too as a global thinker.

      Lily, I loved your sharing here. It’s so good to feel like I can continue sharing life with you even from South Asia 🙂

      • Lily says:

        Jen, how exciting that you can join the conversation from the other side of the world! :0) I’m glad that you were able to take away some helpful tips from this post!

  4. Leanne Richards-Williams says:

    Oh…I forgot to share this time management technique I use: the pomodoro technique. Click this for more info

  5. Lily says:

    Thanks for sharing, Leanne! :0)

  6. Sylvia says:

    I like the idea of the Makes or Breaks and will definitely implement this into my daily practices.


  7. Lily says:

    Glad to hear it, Sylvia! Make or Break’s definitely have a way of keeping you focused on simply enjoying your life, come what may. As long as you have those ‘cant live without it’s’ as apart of your day, there’s no reason to be stressed. :0)

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