I’ve tried all different types of time management systems. I’ve typed my goals on a spread sheet with small actions divided into columns with headings like this: Today, This week, This month, This year.
I’ve tried a handwritten system with 3 notebook pages. One titled: Inside (tasks I do at home or indoors), Outside (errands in the outside world) and Work (specific to my full-time job.) Then I review those 3 sheets every night and make a small list of Inside, Outside, and Work tasks for the following day. This one seems to work for me right now.
But there is a little book that gave me one technique I use to this day. The book is How to Get Control of your Time and your Life, by Alan Lakein. His advice is as follows:
When you make your “to do” lists be sure you put your passionate goal on it (not just all the tedium that life involves). Then, working from that list, choose the most important action to do in the present. As you do it, focus completely on it.
Focusing on a task alleviates the stress of worrying about what you did wrong in the past and agonizing over all the things you have to do in the future. Concentrate on doing one thing at a time. We humans can’t multi-task, even though we think we can.
When you finish your present task, don’t take action until you consult your list again and ask yourself this crucial question:
WHAT IS THE BEST USE OF MY TIME RIGHT NOW?
I ask myself this question several times a day, before I choose what to do next.
Life always gets in the way of fulfilling our dearest dreams. The car is recalled for the 3rd time. Your baby has an ear infection and can’t sleep. Your aging mother needs a light bulb changed and you’re the only one who can do it. But figure out what your most important task is in the present moment and then do it.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN NEEDS AND THE PURSUIT OF YOUR PASSION
Rabbi Hillel, who lived around 100 BCE (or BC, as most people say), asked an even more important question:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
Take care of yourself. If not now, when?
Institute short-term, daily commitments.
THE 30 DAY CHALLENGE means you will commit to doing something for 30 days in a row. I wrote for 10 minutes a day for 30 days. The behavior became a habit. My time commitment slowly expanded and I finished a first draft of a novel in 90 days.
When I got tired of going to the gym after all those years of doing it, I decided to try a morning exercise routine at home for 10 minutes a day for 30 days. Now, many years later, my daily home exercise habit has expanded to 50 minutes every day.
REMEMBER WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT
Yesterday I wanted to write my next blog post, but I’d had to give up my weekly outing this past weekend with my 90 year old mother because of other family plans and house guests. My mother had been included in all the festivities, but we both missed our solo trek on a walking path or meandering through the mall. I postponed the writing until today and took my mother out.
It was worth every minute.