Having the Time of Your Life – Part I

One gift of long course training is that it has helped me to identify some important tenets in my life: family, health and business. By knowing the three things that matter (and conversely the things that don’t matter) I am able to prioritize the one asset that is fixed: time.

Each day, my goal is eight hours of sleep. I will either sleep the full eight hours or sleep seven hours and nap one hour. This leaves me 16 hours to spend in the rest of my day. There are many things I do to maximize my effort and time, some of which you may have not considered yourself. I’m going to share my suggestions in two parts; today, I’ll present some personal approaches to time management — some of the things that I do. In my next column I’ll share some of the resources I use to help manage my time better: Internet applications, tools, support personnel.

Personal Approach (Things I Do)

  • I say no. Lots. I only put on my schedule things that are important to me. Unless my reaction is HELL YEAH(thank you Derek Sivers), I say no.
  • Anytime someone asks me for a business meeting, I respond by asking them to send me a brief email outlining their goals for the meeting or their project. Ninety-five percent of the time, I can answer their questions in the email and kindly point out that no meeting is necessary since all is resolved.
  • Do things instantaneously. I don’t like to let projects or research back up. If I can answer it in a minute or less I get it done. I love Google.
  • I schedule my workouts to not interfere with my family life. This may mean working out early or in the heat of the day. Inconvenient for me but it makes me a better Mom and partner.
  • I focus on one thing at a time. When I am with my family I am not checking my technology. When I am at work, I am not texting my daughter.
  • I respect other peoples time in a vocal and public way as much as my own. Phrases such as, “Thank you for your valuable time. Thank you for being prompt. Thank you for your brevity,” all reinforce the message that time is my priority. People respect what you inspect.
  • I prep in advance for activities. Cooking dinner? I have the vegetables chopped. Long training day? Nutrition and clothing packed and ready to go.
  • I use checklists for everything. A great way to not have to devote extra time to thinking.
  • Know what tasks you do best and when. I write best at 6 a.m. It would take me twice as long to write an article at 6 p.m. Play to your strengths to minimize your time and maximize your effort.
  • I limit my use of questions when I am short on time. Instead of “How are you this morning?”, I will use “It is so nice to see you this morning!” Want to reduce the number of email back and forths? Stop asking questions. Write statements only.
  • No commuting. Everything I need is in a 1.5 mile radius of my house: my daughter’s high school, my work, outdoor long course meter pool, running, and cycling. The rest of my family also lives in the same neighborhood.
  • I hire great people who know they have one primary goal: protect my time. I pay them well above what is standard. Our relationship is reciprocal. When they are vacationing etc. I never call or contact them.
  • If I need to do something, I ask myself if this is something I can hire someone to do? If so, is it worth it financially and personally? Lawn care, gardening, house cleaning etc. are perfect things to hire out. I think of it as stimulating the economy.

Time management is about having the life you want. This is not without risk. You may find that by creating space, the life you really wanted was a mirage. Plenty of people create space and find out that they would rather be busy than have to face the fundamental question of “who am I am/who am I not” and what do I do with all of this time. Think carefully about who you want to be before you start looking at ways to be maximize your time.

Categories: Lifestyle

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Sue Aquila

You can Sue on Twitter @fewoman