Is your time anything but your own? Working with leaders and corporate executives for over two decades has helped me realize how valuable time, our life, can be and how quickly time can slip by us.
Remember when you had time for yourself? Often your calendar fills up so quickly that you don’t even have time to think about what is most important and plan out how you will spend your precious time. Addictions to busyness and technology are not healthy. Too often I hear executives say, “What I really want is peace.” Bouncing from here to there like a pinball can make you feel important and out of control.
Here are some simple ways to think about time – and how you can take control of your life. Begin to play an offensive game of life by deciding how you want to spend your time. Highlight suggestions below that resonate with you, and determine what you want to do. If you expect to see a change you must start a new practice.
1. Speak your Truth and Make Conscious Decisions with Your Time
a. Say “No” when you mean “No” and let go of energy draining activities, (i.e. activities you dread doing.)
b. Say “Yes” when you mean “Yes” and increase energizing activities, (i.e. activities you enjoy doing.)
c. Match your actions with your values.
2. Simplify Your Life
a. Choose a time to plan before your workweek begins. (If I don’t plan before I arrive at my office I become so distracted by the work to be done I lose sight of what is most important. Plan outside the office – it can be easier to stay focused this way.)
b. Make a list of 5-6 important things you plan to do the following week (I have to limit this to 5-6 because I could easily come up with 20 and they will all seem important if I don’t take the time to prioritize and reduce.)
c. Plan each day’s activities and ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I could do today to give me the greatest sense of satisfaction and move me closer to my goals.” Do 1 important item each day first. (It’s simple, yet very profound.)
d. Delegate. Determine the value of your time at work (i.e. hourly wage or compensation) and delegate activities that do not require your expertise and could better be accomplished by an assistant thereby freeing your time for more valuable revenue generating projects. (Time consuming tasks will drain your energy and steel mind space for creative thinking.)
3. Plan, plan and then plan some more – determine where you are going.
a. Life Plan – Write one and review annually or semiannually.
b. Business Plan – Write one and review quarterly or monthly.
c. Weekly Plan – Make it a habit, update weekly.
d. Daily Plan – First things first, that 1 important item goes first on the agenda.
4. Follow Your Plans
a. Take action.
b. Keep your plan within reach. (I keep mine in a 3 ring binder for updates.)
c. Avoid dust build up. Review and update your plans often.
5. Be present in each moment
a. Be mindful in everything you do, (i.e. planning, meeting, writing, speaking, listening.)
b. Be aware of your compulsion to hurry – slow down!
c. Pay attention to your breath. Is it short and shallow, or deep and relaxed?
d. Practice taking conscious control of your breath as well as your thoughts.
e. If you can’t find peace in the present moment you won’t experience peace when the future becomes the present.
f. Be peace. Move with grace and ease.
6. Manage technology.
a. Turn off and remove technology from your body during your contemplation practice, or find a place where these things do not exist (i.e. Nature).
b. Take a silent walk, gaze out over a lake, listen to the river flow, look out the window, walk the hallways and say hello to people calling them by name. Leaders especially – take note! A simple acknowledgement is equivalent to giving a memorable gift to another human being.
c. Limit email time and check email twice a day. (I often set a timer for email and organizing. Knowing I only have limited time to complete the task helps me stay focused. It’s also fun to try and beat the clock.)
a. Leaders take time to reflect, dream and create.
Confession: I am continually developing discipline in my life. I have found that the best place to start is exactly where I am by simply naming it. For example, years ago I realized that my desk appears clean and organized about once a month. Does it work for me? It seemed to be working fine. I am a “once a monther.” I named it, and let it go. The perfectionist was off the hook. Naming “what is” helped me accept reality. Now I can pat myself on the back when I find it organized more often.
Tip: Name your current situation. Accept your behavior for what it is and ask yourself, “Is this working for me?” If it is working for you, let it be. If it is not working, develop a new habit by practicing regularly. Choose an item from above and begin a new practice, or try something else.
Take time for yourself now because now is all you have. Focus on that which is most important to you. You are a unique, precious and powerful being. Celebrate all the ways you contribute to the world.