The following is an except from my book The Gift of Time. You can download the entire book in a variety of formats (including audio) for free here.
I have written at length about different strategies and tactics for developing task and time management. At some point, I will deliver many of them in a book that is much more in-depth and longer than this one.
But in the interest of providing you with some simple steps to guide you as you navigate your way through life, here are two things you can do starting today to improve your relationship with time:
Qualitatively track your time
Time tracking is nothing new. We all keep track of how many moments and hours we spend on certain activities. But we don’t always qualitatively track those moments. Instead, we decide that the number of things we’ve done equates to productivity. That’s simply not the case.
Two of the easiest ways that you can qualitatively track your time include journaling and regularly reviewing. Whether you journal in the morning or evening, the act of chronicling your thoughts will help you spend more time on the important tasks you want to do. Journaling also gives you a chance to reflect when looking back over the past week. David Allen suggests reviewing your lists weekly, and I echo his sentiments. If you don’t review, then you can’t possibly plan ahead with confidence. You will wonder if everything that needs to be done will get done.
Routinize the start and end of your day
Your brain has a lot of work to do every day. When you add routines to the beginning and end of your day, you can let your brain focus on other work. Even if you don’t have a normal waking time and bedtime, you can create morning and evening routines.
Over the last few months, I have had to shift my daily schedule in order to accommodate coaching clients on the East Coast. As a self-described night owl, this change has not been easy. But because I started my day the same way and ended the same way without fail, the process of adjusting my schedule has been less painful. It ultimately doesn’t matter what you do at the beginning of your day or the end of your day as long as you keep it the same.
These things may sound simple, but you are really starting to build habits here. As you work on these habits, you will adjust them. And that’s fine. The key is to start. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you start doing them. Your routines will make you more aware of time. You will become more mindful and thoughtful about how you spend your time. You will begin to make the most of your time, no matter where you are. You will be more intentional with your time because you were paying more attention. Time doesn’t just represent seconds on a timepiece. Time will represent pieces of the life you want to live.
It took over 20 years for me to find my way and understand how time can work for me. I know that I’m not alone in this either. But once I found my way, I knew that I wanted to make sure that it didn’t get lost again.
You see, when you lose your way…you lose time. And that’s the last thing that any of us should want to lose.