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It’s Time to Work Out Your Time-Management Muscles

The secret to managing your time well is learning to focus on what you want to do with the time you have.

Some of us, by nature, organize and get tasks out of the way before we relax. Others play first and work later. Which type are you, and is your style allowing you to have the life you really want?

Maybe you are super-organized at work, but burned out because you don’t know how to make time for yourself. Maybe you are naturally someone who knows how to relax, but you are dissatisfied because you aren’t fulfilling your goals and dreams.

Fortunately, time management is an area of your life that you can strengthen. Like a muscle, it takes practice and repetition to make it stronger. To help you get started, here are some things you can do to streamline your days at work and at home. Start with the two that speak most to you:

• Allocate time for planning and organizing.

• Create to-do lists that are realistic, not intimidating.

• Under-schedule your time: Leave room for the unexpected and for interruptions. Estimate how long something will take, then add on another third of that time.

• Schedule your time in a way that reduces interruptions that lower your productivity.

• Eliminate trivial tasks.

• Consider your biological prime time: At what time of day do you work best? Plan to do your most important work at that time.

• If you say yes to everything that comes your way, learn to say no.

• Ask for help and delegate.

• Make your to-do list for the next day the night before. That way it will be out of your brain and on a piece of paper.

• Make sure all your communication serves the greater purpose, is positively focused, and helps move the situation forward. Don’t participate in venting, negativity, or activity that causes backward motion.

• Acknowledge yourself daily for all that you have accomplished.

Also take a look at the two biggest hindrances to using time effectively: procrastination and a lack of purpose. We usually procrastinate when a task seems daunting—too large or too complex, or both. When you get that “deer in the headlights” feeling, try “chunking”: break the large task into smaller, manageable action steps and start with the first one.

We also often drag our heels or use our time inefficiently because we are bored, unengaged, and uninspired. The most effective people will tell you that they love what they do and are aligned with a greater purpose. When it comes to managing your time, you may need to ask the larger questions: “Am I doing what I love to do? Am I doing something that is meaningful to me?”

Strengthening your new time-management muscle can be your ticket to more fun, greater satisfaction, and a more vibrant life!


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