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Where Does Your Time Go?

Does it seem like your time just slips away and that at the end of the day, you didn’t accomplish all you planned? Do you have dreams about what you want to do in your spare time, only you don’t have any?

For some people it’s not being clear on what you want from your day – or even your life. There’s that clarity thing again, but it really is the key to everything. One of the exercises I often hear suggested is to look at your life and decide what your days would be like if you were not limited by time or money. Once you do that, here are some additional steps.

1. Get clear about how you are really spending your time. To do this, you will need to track how you are actually spending your time, all of it. Keep a diary – kind of like when you keep track of what you eat – of what you do with all the time in your day. Start with when you get up and go through the end of the day. Do this for at least three days, preferably a week. I guarantee you will learn something unexpected.

2. Once you see how you really spend your time, review what you do that isn’t part of that ideal day. (If your ideal day was sitting by the water in the Caribbean with an umbrella drink, you might have a lot that doesn’t fit, but at least you know what you’re aiming for!) Look at what you are doing that could be done by someone else on your team. If you don’t have a team, look at what you could have someone do if you did, and consider moving in that direction.

3. Consider what you are doing that you shouldn’t be doing at all. If you find lots of those activities, learn how to say no. Look at those where you should be limiting your time, e.g., surfing the Internet. What you do should be using your skills and helping you pursue your goals.

4. Look at what activities you pursue that are really your passion. Try to spend more time there.

5. Review which activities are “putting out fires.” You may be familiar with Stephen Covey’s quadrants from his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Things are urgent and important; important and not urgent; not important and urgent; or not important and not urgent. Your goal should be to spend time in the important and not urgent quadrant. If you are spending time in the urgent and important quadrant, you are putting out fires. Likely, this is because you didn’t prioritize or you procrastinated. Many of us spend too much time in the not important or not urgent areas and then we end up with those fires to put out.

6. If you want to spend time appropriately, plan your day the night before. That way you decide your priorities and can get more accomplished.

Remember, how you spend your time is how you spend your life.

Do you have any tips on spending your time more appropriately? Please share your thoughts below.

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