Back in the days when I was a PhD student, struggling to work full time, raise three kids, run a household on top of everything, perform my duties as a student, I had an interview as part of the PhD process where I was asked; what is your biggest challenge as a student? I remember pausing, as if the answer is in the question already, and quite simply said: time. My only challenge is time. There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything that I need to do. I knew very well, that if I ever wanted to finish my PhD, make sure my kids are taken care of, run my practice and my household and not lose my sanity, I needed to maximize time. I remember myself waking up at 3:00am and 4:00am and working until my kids woke up at 6:30am and the day started. Time was my most precious resource, and I worked at maximizing my use of it.
Jim Rohn, the father of all motivational speaking, has said one of my favorite sentences ever: “time is more valuable than money. You can get more money- but you cannot get more time”. What we are left with then, is managing time so we can better ourselves and better our time, rather than having time slip in between our fingers, leaving us frustrated and behind in our goals and in terms of where we aim go get. Managing time effectively is in fact managing our life efficiently, getting our work done, getting our chores done, finding time to work out, finding time for our kids, finding time for our spouses and for ourselves, finding time to read, educate ourselves and grow. You can always say “I can’t”- but can you find a way, or is it just not important enough and just ends up slipping away from your schedule? Are you sure you cant find just a few hours a week to work out, to do something for yourself, to promote your goals? I know that you can find the time- if you manage time rather than letting time manage and dictate your life. So here is how to manage time like a BOSS, and here are your four golden rules for time management. We can easily sum them up in the TIME model- easy to remember, and serves as a great reminder and resource:
T- Time to start saying NO. time management is all about prioritizing and prioritizing essentially means two main things- letting go of the idea of perfection (nobody has poorer time management skills than perfectionists) and letting go of what is not an absolute must. Time to put guilt, external ideals, and unnecessary time consuming things away. You don’t have to bake the cake, you don’t have to volunteer when you are not able to, your house don’t have to be perfect and neither do you. You do have to do what promotes you and your family, and this is where you choose to put your time. You may have to say no to events, no to certain friends, no to anything that does not promote you or makes you happy, but you know what? That’s actually quite liberating, so farewell time wasters- get them out of the way- and don’t feel guilty for a second.
I – improve your ability to plan ahead. Never start your day without a to do list, because you will end up being managed by your day instead of you being in control of your day. Write down your to do list, write down your goals, write down your deadlines, write down your budget and your shopping list. We all know that life throws our way tons of unpredictable situations. Some are desirable and some not as much. Accept it, embrace it, and keep planning ahead. It will keep you focused and you will get more out of your day. And you know what? You will end up having more time for fun and downtime anyway, so this is not about maximizing your energy- its about preserving it. Believe me.
M- make sure to delegate. Forget the ideal wonder woman that you really want to be. Honestly, it is getting old. Anyone who ever thought she can be a wonder woman and do it all ended up frustrated, worn out and feeling under accomplished. So if we talk about managing your time and we talk about managing your life- keep this in mind- wonder woman is not a manger. Managers delegate. That’s what they do, and that’s what you need to learn to do as well. Be a manger, or life will manage you. Your choice.
E- Eliminate distractions. Oh the distractions! There is no worse time for anyone who is even mildly ADD than nowadays, and even those of us that are not, find ourselves wondering if we are! Social media especially became a huge, time consuming distraction for both adults and teenagers. In today’s digital age we are bombarded by distractions, and everyone wants our immediate attention. Focus is the second most important resource we have, after time. When we are focused, we take good decisions, not only in our career but in all areas of life. Focus needs to be guarded, shielded and managed, just like everything else. What do you choose to put at the center of your focus? Your weight? Your health? Your nutrition? Your finances? Your career? Your kids? Something else? We both know that when you focus on something, fully and whole heartedly, you get results. So guard that focus, guard it like a watchdog, and do not let any distractions like social media, negativity or anxious thoughts, get you off track. Your focus is a resource. You time is a resource. Don’t waste your resources. Watch them and magnify them and you’ll get far. I promise you.