I recently asked my friends about their biggest frustrations. Several of them mentioned lack of time. One doesn’t have enough time to play guitar. Another doesn’t have enough time to write music. Still another doesn’t have enough time to perform concerts. You may feel the same way. You may not have enough time to spend doing the activities you love.
But that’s not really the problem. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. If you had more hours, you would just fill those as well. You want to accomplish as much as you can, and you always feel that you can fit in one more task.
I know because I’m the same way. But sometimes I need a reality check. And so do you. You can’t stop time or manage it. But here are some things you can do:
1. Watch Your Language – If you say, “I don’t have time for x”, you are really saying “I choose not to do x”. Once you recognize this, you can be intentional about what you choose not to do.
2. Be Realistic – If you say you have ten must-do priorities each day but never accomplish more than three of them, it’s time to be honest with yourself. You actually have three must-do priorities.
3. Align Priorities – John Maxwell suggests evaluating priorities based on requirement, return, and reward.
- What is required of you? You must do these activities.
- What gives you the best return financially? These activities facilitates making a living.
- What activities are most rewarding? These activities refresh and renew you. They often involves serving others and making a contribution to the world.
The problem for many people is that requirement and return do not align with reward. For example, perhaps you find playing guitar very rewarding but are having a hard time securing enough paid performances to make a living. There are two common approaches people take in dealing with this problem:
- Choose a career where you can make as much money as possible, even if it is not rewarding. Then you can spend your spare time doing things that are rewarding and meaningful to you.
- Select a career that will be rewarding and meaningful to you, even if it does not pay much. Agree to sacrifice financial return in exchange for quality of life.
Of course, a preferred third alternative would be to align requirement, return, and reward within a single career. Take time to consider how you could make this happen.
4. Recognize the Reality of Trade-Offs – As Greg McKeown points out in the book Essentialism, if you say ‘yes’ to a new activity, you are tacitly saying ‘no’ to an activity you have been doing previously. Something will get less attention. If you identify what you’re giving up in order to take on the new commitment, you will be able to evaluate whether it’s worth the trade-off.
5. Eliminate the Good But Not Great. – Greg McKeown says, “If it’s not a definite yes, it’s a definite no.” When you are stuck in indecision, this is a good way to get unstuck. If you are not sure that you should make a new commitment, don’t do it. It’s often that simple.
6. Seek Efficiency – Find ways to do things more efficiently. Streamline repetitive processes as much as possible. If you can use technology to automate a task, you may save hundreds of hours in the long run.
7. Enlist Others – Develop your leadership skills, so that you can mobilize other people to help you. This is the most powerful way to increase your reach, because a strong team will add to your effectiveness and may even multiply it.
8. Accept Today as a Gift – Be grateful for the time you have now. I believe each day is a gift from God. You are not promised tomorrow, so live this day as if it is your last.
To be transparent, living by the above principles does not come automatically for me. Almost every day, I grapple with the feeling that I don’t have enough time. But reminding myself of these principles helps me realize I have all the time I need. And so do you.
Question: How do you choose your top priority for each day? You can leave a comment by clicking here.