My first career was as an accountant, so doing my books is easy and fun.  But other things are not easy or fun.  There are some tasks that I hate doing, and I can procrastinate like the best of you. 

There are times that I am so good at procrastinating that I find myself at the end of the day wondering where the day went or realizing something took way longer than it should have.  The frustration occurs when I know I have less time to do the things I love or spend time with those I care about.  

So how do we ensure we spend more time on the activities and projects we love?    

  1. Decide what you love to do
  2. Schedule the time to work on these things
  3. Use my time management strategies for everything else.

I love this 90-day planning process. 

Decide what you love to do.

What matters most to you?  What gives you energy or helps you recharge?  Consider both your long-term and short-term goals and aspirations.  

In my business, I love working one to one with a client.  So, no matter what, I will always make time for this.  In my personal life, I love to hang out with friends and spend time with my husband.   There are also projects both in my business and personal life that I am excited about.  

This is where we have to be realistic.  We only have so much time.  And when considering the projects you want to prioritize, you may have to pick up one at a time.   One project might take you three months, but taking on a second project will slow down both projects.

Be realistic about who you are as a person.  Do you like to see your projects moving forward fast? Or do you want to see many things moving slowly simultaneously? 

This is one reason I love the “parking lot” concept.  You can park a project or a goal until later. It allows you to capture the idea until you prioritize it. 

Schedule your time.

Now that you know what matters most to you.  Consider when to work on what you love and how you want to spend your time.  What time, day of the week/month do you want to work on it?  

For example, I carve out time in my calendar for one-to-one work, time for that project I want to work on, social time on Sundays, and time for my husband.  I put this into my calendar first, ensuring nothing else can be booked at these times unless I make a conscious decision. 

The key is to schedule the time for these things that you love.  You can’t wait until you have time or do them if you have time.  You have to make the time proactively.  

Three time management strategies.

You know what’s important and have scheduled them in your calendar.  The key now is to keep your commitment to yourself.  Here are three time management strategies to help you. 

Establish clear boundaries

Determine what boundaries you need to protect your time and energy and value what is important to you.  Most of us don’t clearly define our boundaries, so we can’t communicate or enforce them.  Take time to determine what your boundaries are. 

Examples of boundaries you may want to consider include:

Your working hours. 

How people can communicate with you and when. 

How often will you check email, and when will you respond. 

You may want 2 hours of focused work daily, and will turn off all distractions.  Time to work on that project you love. 

Establishing boundaries is important in both work and personal.  For example, if you set a guideline of no work email between 6 and 9 so you can give focus to your family, then you can also ask your family to provide you with more dedicated work time before 6. 

Once you establish your boundaries, you must clearly communicate and enforce them. 

If you let your clients know you are unavailable after 6 pm on weekdays, ensure you don’t respond to messages even if they come in.  Even if you do some work at 9 PM, schedule your responses so the client doesn’t receive the response until working hours.  Maybe you only want communication through WhatsApp.  If your client sends you a text, advise them immediately to re-direct to WhatsApp. 

Learn to say no

The truth is you can’t do everything.  Part of this exercise is learning what is important to you, what you love spending time on.   The other part is to protect that time by saying no to things that are not that important.  

Before you say yes, check-in and ask yourself if this will help you spend time on things you love or if it will help you reach your goals.  If the answer is yes, consider saying yet (if you have the time).  If the answer is no, do a second check-in – is it a “Yes, yes!” because it is something you absolutely want to do?  If it is, then consider saying yes.  Everything else, say no. 

Learn to say no.  You can say no while still being polite.  Thank them for thinking of you and then suggest alternatives or other resources. 

Be kind to yourself and practice compassion for yourself.  This is especially true if you have been someone who has often said yes.  You might feel guilty at first.  However, it is essential to remember that when you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to another.  Every yes is a no to something else.  You have to be selective of what you say yes to, or you will end up saying no to what you love to spend your time on.  

Break everything into small pieces.

There are two parts to this strategy.  

The first is knowing everything you need to do in your business.  This might mean brainstorming and reviewing a list to determine what can be eliminated or delegated.   All of us have make busy tasks that we can eliminate to free up time. 

The second is to chunk down a big goal or project.  Even if we love something, it can be overwhelming when we work on it if the task is too big.  Therefore, chunking down to break it into small bit sized pieces helps.  Then when you work on the project, you know the next step. 

It all starts with knowing what you love.

It is possible to spend time on the things you love.  It starts with knowing what it is we want to spend time on. 

Then we need to schedule the time for them because you never find time; you must make it.  Scheduling the time is the first step.  

Finally, you have to keep the commitment to that schedule and to make that easier, I’ve shared three time management strategies to help.   Establish boundaries, learn to say no, and break everything into small pieces. 

Now it’s up to you, and what a perfect time to try this out.  The summer is here; what are a few things you would love to do this summer?   Schedule it and use the strategies above to help make them happen.  

See you at the beach!    

Take action!  Wanting is not enough; Act upon your goals! If somebody was watching your day-to-day behaviour, would they be able to see what you’re working towards; what your goals are?  If the answer is no, fit it! 

Dr. Steve Maraboli

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