Being eclectically-interested, I can flit from thing to thing indefinitely. However, if I want a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, I have to go into it with a game plan. We all know that things rarely go exactly as planned, but it’s good to have focus from the get-go.
Here are a half dozen ways to narrow that focus.
1. If you’ve never made a list of priorities, it’s a great place to start. It will help you evaluate each opportunity that comes your way. I love things that are “new and shiny,” but I can’t take them all on. I do need to sleep after all. (grin)
My priority list looks something like this: 1. My Relationship with God; 2. My Relationship with My Husband and Three Grown Children; 3. My Relationship with My Church Family, etc.
The way I spend my time doesn’t necessarily reflect this list, but it gives me a means to filter new opportunities and evaluate how I’m doing overall.
2. The next thing is to evaluate how you spend your time. In college, my English teacher said her class had been asked to list their priorities and then spend a week or two recording how they spent their time. For many, this exercise revealed they had a handle on their priorities, but didn’t actually live by them. In some cases, her fellow students spent the most time on things they said were of least importance and vice versa. I’m pretty sure I would have days, if not weeks, like that.
3. Time to categorize. Think of the tasks you do each week and put them under the appropriate heading. In doing this, it may be easy to see that a great deal of your time is taken up by things you didn’t think were high on your priority list. Plus, you may just find more discretionary time than you thought.
I think it’s time for me to do this again. Mind you, I find it easier budgeting my time since I have an 8:00-4:00 office job Monday through Thursday. Some people who work from home set themselves “office hours.” It keeps them from becoming distracted and unproductive.
Personally, I like flexibility within structure. At work, I have certain things to accomplish, but for the most part, I get to choose my daily agenda and the order of things. The same is true of my freelance responsibilities as well.
4. Grab a red pen and strike out those time-consuming things that don’t help you achieve your priorities. But before you do . . . remember that not all of them are time-wasters. Vegging in front of the TV? Playing video games? Sleeping? There can be a time for each of these things, especially when it fosters time with family and friends and/or preserves your health and sanity.
I can plunk in front of the TV for hours. However, if I’m spending time with my hubby and daughter, I don’t feel it’s a bad thing. Mind you, if we could find something active we’d all like to do, that would be much better, but that’s an entirely different story.
5. Make a list of Ultimate Goals and see how your day-to-day activities are furthering those goals. They’re not? It could be time to re-evaluate how you spend your time . . . or your UG.
Stephen Covey suggested figuring out what you wanted people to say about you at your funeral and work backwards from there. Not a bad idea.
6. Give yourself a break. Despite the fact that we rarely accomplish everything we plan in a given day, Lord willing, we’ll have a fresh start tomorrow.