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“It’s how we spend our time here and now, that really matters. If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time, change it.       

Marcia Wieder

No matter who we are, what our personal, professional or community responsibilities are, we are all given the same amount of time to get everything done. No one gets more than 24 hours per day. Luckily, we now have super efficient technology and other gadgets available to help. But with all of the time-saving devices we now have to make us more efficient and improve our quality of life, we still complain about “not having enough time!” Additionally, we have figured out a way to “fill in” the minutes of our day with other things to do…some important, some not so important. Trying to fit everything into our day, satisfying everyone’s needs including our own, can be a daunting task.

Rather than engaging in chronic, unstructured busyness, here are some tips to help you develop a plan to get more time by changing how you “interact with time”:

STOP…relax…and think. MAKE YOURSELF STOP...Identify your vision, the purpose of your life. How you use your time should be closely aligned with your vision and values. Then, find an uncluttered time and space and embrace the thought of taking back control of your life, establishing a more deliberate relationship with time. Ask yourself, “Will this activity enhance my life?”

Now, move on to figuring out how you are going to remember what to do and when. Your thoughts have value. Write things down…both your ideas and desired behaviors. Then determine a unique method, specifically for you, that will get the information to you at a time when you are able to follow through. For some, buying a supply of colored sticky notes and pens, and placing them around the house is very useful! Use electronic timers on household appliances. Use your computer to keep you on task. Take advantage of the technology available to create your calendar, phone lists and address books. For many of us, having to organize and maintain too much paper can be stressful! Find your own, unique system of recall and responsibility.

Set priorities. Examine the typical routines of your day. Deactivate your “autopilot” setting. Find a time, in the a.m. or p.m., when you can “purposefully” plan for the next day. What needs to be included? The things that most clearly represent your vision will be obvious and you will give them priority. Also, carefully consider which activities are “time wasters” that need to go!  

Make an “appointment with yourself”, designating ample time to get the job done. Ask yourself, “What is a good time to do that?” as you make your plan. Time of day may be just as important as which day to do it. Then, allow enough time for completion.

Learn to say “No.” Develop kind, but firm, scripts to let others know that you respect their wishes, but cannot assist them. Saying “No” politely to others who want pieces of your time is a skill worth building. Give yourself a break from email, your cell phone or pager. Set personal boundaries. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty!

Reward yourself! Acknowledge and enjoy your successes. As you do this, the reward circuits in the brain are strengthened, creating memories of the task completion and reward received. The result is increased motivation to continue to follow through, knowing that we will experience “pleasure” in the form of a reward!

Identify your relationship between time and your life purpose; spend time, purposefully, developing your own external system of prioritizing and accountability; and reward yourself for making even small changes to how you spend your time in the here and now.