The Easiest Way to See if You’re Spending Your Time Right
Are you frustrated by how you never clear anything from your To-Do list?
Do you retire to bed disappointed condemning yourself for another day lost? Week and even month wasted? Do you look back and regret how you have lived the past years with nothing to show for it?
Well, you have spent enough time beating yourself up. It’s time to correct the mistakes and live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. The good things is that you have enough time ahead of you to achieve your goals.
The problem you have been facing has to do with your time management. It is the most common problem affecting productivity and it has some serious negative results. Check these statistics.
Not to worry though, by the time you are done reading this, you will be able to see where you have been going wrong. Also, you will learn some great ways you can turn things around.
SIGNS THAT YOU ARE NOT SPENDING YOUR TIME RIGHT
It may not be very easy to know when you are not spending your time right. However, when you consider some of the things you usually do, you will easily tell.
If you take some time to think of the habits you have formed, even unconsciously, you will see just how often you waste time. And the truth of the matter is that you usually know it when it happens. At least your sub-conscious mind knows it.
Your mind knows the dreams and aspirations you have and wants to help you achieve them. As such, when it sees you doing things which don’t direct you towards those goals, it sounds an alarm. It is then up to you to exercise your willpower and make the right decision.
Let’s look at some of these habits which sabotage you.
1. You check social media first thing you wake up
It is a good thing to connect and want to know how your friends are doing. But if that is what you do first thing you wake up, then there is a problem.
If this is your number one priority in the morning, you are simply not using your time well. Whether you are posting images and updates about yourself or checking what others have posted, you are wasting a valuable resource.
When you wake up, your mind is fresh. This is a good time to do some productive work. From the rest you had when asleep, your body and mind have rejuvenated and are ready to deliver. When you then task them with checking people’s social media posts, you are grossly under-utilizing them.
What you think will take you just five minutes to do, may take up to one hour. As you scroll through what your friends and other connections have posted, you get lost in the information you are feeding yourself with.
2. You are not doing what you should be doing
You most likely know that discipline is important and have expressed an interest in cultivating it. Recognizing that you don’t achieve much of what you plan for, you have learned some time management skills.
To keep track of things and have a sense of direction, you create a To-Do list. But as soon as you embark on your work, you start engaging in activities which are not relevant to your goals.
For example, you know that you should be preparing a presentation for the departmental meeting set for next week Monday. But just because it is Friday afternoon, you keep checking with your friends on their availability over the weekend.
Whereas you could easily do this after you leave the office, you find it easier to do it in the middle of your work. You may tell yourself that you are just planning ahead. But the lie in this consolation is in the fact that you are not planning for the bigger and more important event coming next week.
This happens mostly out of boredom because time spent with your friends will certainly be more fun than creating charts and tables. But the question is, which of these activities would you rather focus on if you have the future in mind?
3. You say “yes” to everyone and everything
Are you the so-called “nice guy?” Do you help everyone with (almost) everything?
If so, then you are wasting a lot of your time. Everyone has things they should be doing. And yes, no-one can stand alone; we need one other. But just in case you didn’t know it, no-one can live your life for you.
You have your own life to live. Your own path to walk. You should be walking on that path and seeking the help of those who occasionally cross your path. But if you are the one available for everyone else, then you are definitely not on your path. At best, you are just wandering around the junction.
You are yet to make a decision to pursue your goals. And if you have, then you are not determined to achieve them.
Those who are pursuing something, get to a point and realize that they need help. And because you are not pursuing anything, you automatically become available to help them. Take note that “pursuing” here means working towards the set goals and not just having desires to achieve something.
When you become available for everyone and everything else, when will you have time to do your own things? If you don’t have time to work on your own projects, when will your desires ever materialize?
4. You wait for the “right time”
If you find yourself waiting for the “right time,” then either of two things could be the problem. Either you are very unaware that there is nothing like the right time for something, or you are just struggling with laziness.
In the first case, you may be a perfectionist. That in itself will not only waste your time but also your efforts. You should therefore seek to correct this notion of perfection as soon as possible before it ruins your life.
If laziness is the problem you are battling, then you need urgent help. Talk to someone you trust and let them help you with this. He or she can act as an accountability partner to help you stay on course.
Waiting for the right time so as to do something is a sure waste of time. The precious resource will be running out while you take no action. If you spend too much time thinking and organizing ideas in your head, you won’t ever implement them.
As you get frustrated with the wait, you will likely start engaging in unproductive activities like playing online games. This serves to further derail you from the path you should be on.
5. You are always watching the news
It is important to be informed about what is going on around you. If you are in business for example, it’s necessary to know about the industry you are in, the new government policies, new international trade agreements etc.
However, you cannot dedicate your time to getting information.
If you are always learning, when will you practise what you learn? If you are always filling yourself with information, when will you put it into use?
Always seeking to be updated is a trap for the unwary person. If you fall into this trap, then you will end up fighting the battle of perfectionism. You will be seeking the right amount of information before doing anything. In effect, you will move from having one battle to two.
The important thing to note, is that news will always be happening. There will always be updates to be provided. More than that, the news makers are pursuing their goals. In reporting about an issue, the reporters are actually growing their careers. What are you doing sitting there watching them?
6. You are constantly worrying
Worrying can come in various ways. First, if you don’t manage your appetite for news, you will find that you are often worrying about something. News can also promote stress. This is especially so because a big percentage of the news is usually negative in nature.
From insecurity and droughts, to other human evils like wars, life will always seem too bad if you concentrate on the wrong things. It then becomes difficult to concentrate on what you are doing as you move towards your goals.
Worrying makes your mind busy with the wrong ideas. You constantly think of how to protect yourself instead of being creative to come up with solutions.
Also, when you worry about something, it ultimately takes your mind captive and all you can think about is that particular thing. When your mind is taken over by this thing, thinking straight becomes impossible. In this situation, you hardly have any mental capacity to work on anything important.
This is why stressed people often do shoddy jobs. Their minds are not on what they are working on. Although their hands may do what is needed, lack of concentration causes mistakes which affect the output quality.
BENEFITS OF SPENDING YOUR TIME RIGHT
Time wastage is very real and costly too. If you are set to achieve a goal, you should know that wasting time will keep you from it. Watch the below video and you will understand why every second counts.
The difference between you winning that contract and losing it could be one hour of research about the client. The difference between you producing enough goods for your order and being unable to supply could lie in your production timelines.
As you consider the importance of wise time usage, check out the below benefits of staying on course as far as spending your time is concerned.
1. More productivity
This is obviously the biggest benefit of spending your time well. Not because your life’s focus is on working but because your life is all about making a difference. And the only way to make a difference in life is by being productive.
Being productive means your life will add value to others. It means that you will do things which positively impact others. And in this positive impact, many will be influenced to do something similar. The the end result? A better life for all.
Whether you want to improve your personal time management skills or that of your company, there is definitely a goal to be achieved. If it is business, you stand the chance to solidify your market share or increase it. If it is personal, then one great achievement will be self-discipline.
If you stick to the proper use of your time, you will have an easier time deciding which activities to engage in and which ones not to. Because you are sticking to your decision on time usage, it will be easy to counter the distractions that so often come up.
At the end of the day, the things you planned to do will all or mostly be done. Continuing in the same path, whatever is unfinished in one day gets finished the following day. This level of productivity will guarantee you success in all you do.
2. Less stress
Did you know that you can be stressed because of comparing yourself to others?
Although it is okay to seek inspiration by reading about other people’s achievements, it is counter-productive to make comparisons. Unfortunately, this comparison can come about quite automatically unless you actively avoid it.
You will find that you admire people who apparently have everything working for them. They have a successful career, a great family, wealth and an impressive social life. Then you ask yourself, “How do they manage it?” “How did they make it?”
You probably don’t have a family yet. That makes wealth and a successful career the only major goals you currently have. But you still struggle. You seem to be having less time than the person who has a family and a career to worry about.
Logically speaking, since you have less to do, you should be able to manage things effectively. In fact, if you are comparing yourself to this particular person, you should be having a lot of free time. Meaning you have the potential to be better than they currently are.
Comparing yourself with others, especially more successful people, is one of the causes of stress. When you learn how to utilize the time you have, you will start achieving your own goals. This naturally cuts down on your bouts of stress.
3. Fulfillment in life
Everyone wants to live a fulfilled life, but few know how to go about it.
As hard as it may seem, this is really simple to achieve. As long as you achieve your goals, you will have fulfillment. The problem comes in pursuing other people’s goals instead of your own.
For example, when you watch TV a lot and start admiring the life of some accomplished individuals, you start desiring their status. You will then want to look like them, dress like them and obviously, live like them.
Although there is nothing wrong with admiring and desiring something good, but realize that their lives are different from yours. You have your own goals which you should be pursuing and you are specially talented for them.
When you understand this and focus on it, you will realize that your time is of great importance. You will then cut back on clutter so that you can concentrate more.
Once you achieve your goals, there can be nothing as beautiful as just resting in the joy of the moment. The joy that you get makes everything else fade, including the effort you put in as you worked towards your goal.
You will not be angry with yourself, frustrated with life or feel the urge to prove a point. When watching other people succeed, you will be able to celebrate them and not envy them because you have experienced the same success.
Moreover, you will also be able and willing to help others reach their goals. You can do this even without any compensation. This is why many successful people have no problem sharing the secrets and tips they employed to get their success.
And by the way, helping others also adds to your fulfillment. Any time you help someone, you experience more joy from knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life.
HOW TO SPEND YOUR TIME THE RIGHT WAY
There can never be a substitute for doing the right thing at the right time. And this is not wishful thinking but a fact that can be evident in your personal life.
So how can you ensure that you are spending your time right?
1. Put first things first
The most important things in your life should always come first. This means you should have determined what these things are.
Think about the things which define your joy and happiness. Consider the things which when you have them, you automatically enjoy more peace from within. These should be the things for which you are willing to sacrifice your all.
For example, if you value having a financially secure future, then you know that you have to work on some investments. For this to materialize, you may need to stick to home-made meals, which are cheaper. This is compared to the more expensive unhealthy alternatives you go for when in a hurry.
Implementing this when writing your To-Do lists, you will ensure you have time for cooking so as to avoid restaurant meals. In a month or so, you will have money which can go straight into investment.
2. Learn to say “no”
This is very crucial. Everywhere you go, there will be people seeking to have you help them with some of their own work. Giving assistance is a good thing.
But the problem comes when you are unable to say “No” to someone asking you to help them with something. In most cases, to avoid the guilt that follows saying “No,” you agree to help.
And what is the result?
You have no time to do your own work. When this happens, then you will not be able to achieve anything. In view of your desires and goals, you are therefore not spending your time right.
Not being able to say “No” mainly comes from low self-confidence and the best way of handling this situation is learning how to be assertive.
When you are assertive, you know yourself and your needs thus can communicate them confidently. You will also start respecting yourself and earn the same from others. When there is respect, you will value your time and not be open to everyone every time.
3. Practice time boxing
Time boxing is a great addition to your To-Do list and that is exactly where it starts. You create your normal list of activities you want to work on for the day. After that, you allocate time frames in which the specific activities will be worked on. An example is shown below:
|1||Breakfast||8:00 – 8:30 AM|
|2||Attend Manages’ Meeting||9:00 – 10:00 AM|
|3||Research Work||10:15 – 12:00 PM|
|4||Make Sales Report||12:00 – 1:00 PM|
When you do this, you take your lists of activities a step further towards actualization. You can set up reminders on your computer or phone so as to sound a notification maybe five minutes before the time specified. This way, you have some minutes to quickly finalize whatever is pending.
Time boxing is a powerful way to learn how to spend your time right. It ensures you stick to what you have to do at the time you set to do it.
4. Concentrate on the task at hand
This is another key skill you have to develop. Concentration is not easy, but possible. Even if you work in a noisy environment. The noise may be from machinery or your colleagues who are always chatting during work hours.
If at home or your own office, then noise could be any form of distraction. This might be anything from internet, radio and TV to the magazines on your desk. As long as there is something distracting you from what you should be doing, then it is going to make you spend your time the wrong way.
Distractions provide short-term rewards to the brain. That is why you’re inclined to indulge them. Unless you purpose to stick to the hard work, your brain will pull you towards the easier and more relaxing activities.
5. Form habits
Habits are the drivers of some of the activities you unknowingly engage in. When you form a habit, you do things without thinking much about them. If the activities are beneficial in nature, then you are guaranteed to enjoy the results.
As you seek to spend your time wisely, it will be good to form habits which help you move towards your goals. These good habits will eventually replace the bad habits you’re struggling with.
If you just seek to stop bad habits and not build new ones, you might struggle a lot with little or no success. This is because the habits have already become a part of you. It is as though they occupy a space inside you. If you want to remove the habit, there would therefore be an empty space left behind.
For you to be successful, you have to come up with something that will fill that gap even before creating it. The trick in doing this is to create an internal perception that the old habit is bad, unworthy and one whose results are unattractive or even painful.
The opposite of this should be the perception you form in your mind about the new habit you want to form. You should see the new habit as good, attractive and beneficial.
6. As you wait for something, do something
In your schedule and To-Do lists, you will have activities which have some idle periods of time in between sub-activities. These “idle times” could be harnessed and converted to extra time for use during other activities.
For example, you may be running a machine and at some point, you need to leave it to run with no interaction for five minutes. You can use these five minutes to do something else. Instead of sitting there and watching the machine do its work, you could start another activity.
The new activity which you start should however be one that can be broken into small bits so as not to become a distraction from the current task. If the activity is something like preparing a sales report, you could use the five minutes to get the sales invoices file from the cabinet. Or pull the sales data from the system.
This way, you have done a part of the work so that you have a head start once you are ready to work on the particular task. Another way to benefit from this extra time is by stretching a little. This will be great for your health especially if you have been sitting all along.
You could do something as simple as getting a glass of water or just quickly re-organizing your desk.
One thing for sure, don’t think of the “extra time” as time that you can use to have some rest. You should not entertain the idea of resting while still working. You can organize your To-Do list in such a way that you have breaks. But as for resting, that should come at the end of the day.
7. Do less
In our society which is obsessed with being busy, there are many things to be done. Just going through one day can make you feel tired, even if you have achieved your goals.
When you consider the numerous activities fighting for your attention, you tend to forget the more important aspects of life. In the rush to do more, you can easily compromise on things like family and friends.
The solution to this?
Just do less. Not less in quality but in quantity.
Depending on your lifestyle, activities and maybe even beliefs, this might be a major shift in your life.
When you consider the most successful people, be they in art, music, technology or any other field, you will realize that they concentrate their efforts on fewer things than most people. They even have a dedicated time for resting. They know that rest is key to achievement.
Yet the people working under them, seeking a quick way to become successful, get themselves busy doing many things. Oblivious to the dangers of multitasking, some hold several jobs at the same time while others concurrently work on several career choices.
When your mind has too many things to focus on, it becomes stressed. The many things to be done also increase the chances that you won’t finish them all. Failing to finish them all, especially if it happens often, you set yourself up for frustrations. You end up thinking more about your perceived inabilities and get more stressed.
On the other hand, having a shorter To-Do list increases your chances of completing all the tasks. This increases the possibility of ending your day happy and proud of yourself. You will also have time for a more social life—something that is more important than success and fame.
Having learned how to spend your time right, make the necessary changes and commit to them. You will definitely enjoy the benefits of using your time well.
You are sitting in your cubicle staring at the computer while pondering over the meaning of life …