Maximize Your Time
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“Valorie, I was really inspired by your message," a young, successful woman explained as I signed books after a speaking engagement in Louisville, Kentucky a couple of years ago. It is time for me to change careers, but I’m so busy that I don’t have time to do the things it would take for me to make a change. What am I supposed to do when there just aren’t enough hours in the day?” she asked.
I smiled and thought about how to ask a blunt question in a gentle way. “Who created your schedule?” I probed.
She laughed, then paused as she thought about my question. I could see the light bulb turn on, then weight lift from her shoulders as she let out a sigh of relief. “I create my schedule, but I behave as though I have no choice about changing it. There are definitely some things on my calendar that are less important than my desire to change careers. Hmm. I guess it's time for me to let those things go so I can free up some time.”
With a simple shift in perspective, she felt empowered to regain control of her schedule. While making changes in how you spend your time is not always easy, you can do it.
This week, I invite you to take a close look at your schedule and determine whether it is aligned with your true priorities. One thing I know for certain: God did not make a mistake when he created a 24-hour day. If you need more than that to accomplish your goals and tasks on a consistent basis, then something has to give.
For some, it is as simple as getting up 30 minutes earlier or leaving work on time. For others, the answer may be as major as choosing to live on one income so that one parent can stay home with children – a challenging, but rewarding choice.
How do you know when your schedule is out of control? Perhaps some of these questions resonate with you:
- Do you eat lunch at your desk or on the run?
- Do you rarely take breaks?
- Does your to-do list never get completely checked off?
- Do you plan to exercise or work on specific goals, but never seem to get around to it?
- Are you too busy to hang out with friends, take time for yourself or a vacation?
- Do you find yourself regularly running late?
- Do you set your clocks ahead to trick yourself into being on time?
- Do you miss deadlines or stress yourself out trying to meet them?
- Do you simply feel like your schedule controls you rather than you controlling your schedule?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there are adjustments you could make to create a schedule that better supports you on a daily basis. Over the next seven days, try these five strategies for taking control of your schedule:
1. Be Intentional
Before your week begins, identify what needs to be accomplished. Likewise, before each day ends, take a couple of minutes to envision what will happen the following day. On a monthly and quarterly basis, track your progress towards your life’s vision and make adjustments to your schedule that will support you in bringing it to fruition.
2. Envision Yourself Doing the Things That Matter Most
This is a key step that can make a tremendous difference. Take just a few seconds before you go to bed at night envisioning yourself accomplishing the things that are most important. Set your intention to exercise, be on time, or finish a project by envisioning those activities in the day to come.
3. Notice What's Causing Stress
Awareness is the first step to meaningful change. What is it that creates stress consistently in your schedule? What could be done to alleviate the stress or the problem? When could you make a change?
4. Align Your Schedule With Your Priorities
Consider all of the key areas, not just one: Work, relationships, health, finances and spiritual life. When your schedule is in alignment, your time and energy is balanced in each of these areas. All work and no play will cause your relationships, health and spiritual life to suffer. All play and no work can be equally damaging spiritually, financially and emotionally. Make appointments in your schedule to do nothing, spend time with people you love and practice self-care.
5. Experiment With Adjustments
Try doing something different with your schedule and see how it goes. If it works well, you can make the change permanent. If not, you can try different adjustments until you discover what works best for you.
My challenge to you this week:
Identify and implement at least one adjustment in your schedule that will make your life more enjoyable and less stressful.
What does your ideal schedule look like? What will it take for you to bring your ideal schedule to life? Create a deadline and a timeline by which this ideal schedule will be a reality for you
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