The last couple of years of self-employment as an entrepreneur has frequently demonstrated to me the importance of setting goals, work planning and prioritisation. However, like many others, until recently, I never seemed to have enough time. Stress-induced poor health is one of the consequences.
Some of my time poverty came from an elongated bout of ill-health. However, much more was rooted in my psyche, rather than a lack of organisation or too much to do. And my experience is typical.
We can’t create more time, but there are some issues we need to address if we want to manage our time better and enjoy a better integration of life with business:
- If you fill up your schedule with activities that you don’t enjoy, you will feel short of time. As Stephen Covey puts it, you need to schedule in the big rocks first. One or more of those rocks has to be something you enjoy, that engages you.
- Having conflicting goals steals time. The bloke who taught me cricket coaching had one immutable rule: “you can’t please everyone, so don’t even try.” It’s the same with goals. Take a hard look at your goals. For starters, if you’ve more than seven (plus or minus two), you’ve probably got too many. Before you whittle them down, are any of them in direct conflict? Do any of them conflict with what you stand for? At the end of each day, how many tasks do you transfer to the following day?
- Do you feel that you’re at the mercy of external forces? If so, you may struggle to take back control of time. What do you want? Take another look at your goals and to-do list:
- What are the main constraints?
- Is it allocated the right priority?
- Is it truly urgent-important?
- Can it be scheduled for later?
- Can you delegate it?
- Best of all, can you say “no, I’m not doing that”?
- How much value do you place on your time? In other words, what value can you associate with each goal or task on your list?
The saying goes that if you don’t write it down, it won’t happen. It’s also fair to say that if you write down too much or don’t write out in the right order, then some of it won’t happen either. And you’ll feel pressured and short of time.
We’re at the time of the year when we should all be planning for the next quarter and year. Don’t rush it. Be deliberate and ruthless as you plan. Ensure that your objectives and tasks include things that you enjoy and which benefit you. Root out and exclude goals that conflict with each other or with your values. Look at your priorities. Again be ruthless. Create space for things that truly matter. Declutter your calendar. Value yourself and your time.
You have time when you think about it. Making more time to think about how you spend your time will enrich your life.