Time Management - Make Time, Not Excuses
By JEB BOHN
We all have them. Maybe you want to write a novel. Perhaps you want to learn to code. It could be anything relating to personal growth.
Unfortunately, it’s easier to find reasons not to achieve them than to make them a reality.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
No, it’s not witchcraft. Well, not completely. Instead, it boils down to time management.
Not Enough Time in the Day
We’ve all heard this expression; many of us have said it ourselves, but have we ever asked why?
The reality for many people is desire. No, I’m not saying that people who don’t reach their goals don’t want it. They’re not lazy—at least not entirely. We all have our moments.
The genuine issue comes down to prioritization.
This can be a tough hurdle to overcome, especially if you—like me—have kids. There are nearly endless situations where being a parent can eat up time, some you can plan around, others you cannot.
That said, it’s not impossible. You can plan around things like school, musical or sporting practice or other extracurriculars. You can’t do that with illnesses and accidents, and that’s okay. The key is planning around what you can.
Stand back, plan out an average day, and see where you have free time. Don’t let it overwhelm you, it may surprise you what you can squeeze into an hour or two, but you’ll never know until you break down and plan your day.
Of course, if you’re a parent, you probably do this already.
Time Management Basics
I’m going to preface this section by stating that I am no expert; I’m just talking about things I’ve tried that have worked for me.
Once you’ve broken your day down—be thorough—take a hard look at how you spend your time. Now, think about your goal(s). What activities are taking up time while not contributing to what you want to accomplish? Can you cut anything out to free up time? Most times, an honest assessment will show that you can.
Again, don’t let it overwhelm you. If it helps, remember these changes don’t have to be permanent, they only have to accommodate your goal(s).
The easiest area to trim wasted time is usually—wait for it—the internet.
Take a moment to soak up the irony.
Of course, I don’t expect you to avoid the internet completely, I’m not crazy. What I would suggest is this: keep a notepad with you one day. Anytime you’re on the internet doing something unproductive (I don’t mean to be harsh, but that’s the best word), jot down a note with the time.
Spend 10 minutes scanning Reddit? Jot it down. Played Idle Mafia for half an hour? Note it! At the end of the day, tally up the time you spent absently browsing the interwebs or playing on your phone. Now, imagine having that much time freed up to work on something that has meaning to you.
The goal here is to audit an average day in your life and see where you can make time to focus on something you want to achieve.
Modify Your Sleeping Habits
Oof, this one hurts, but hear me out.
Now that you’ve audited and streamlined your day, the next step is to look at the easiest way to add time to your day: waking up earlier.
Please don’t track me down brandishing torches and pitchforks. I love sleep as much as anyone, I promise!
Consider waking up an hour earlier and using that added time to tackle something related to your goal. Granted, this may not apply to you, depending on your schedule.
For some, this may seem like an unholy proposition. To that, I say try it for a week—remember, this isn’t forever, it’s just part of a time management toolkit. You may find that it works well and decide to stay with it; all I ask is that you go into it with an open mind.
Beyond that, there’s the added bonus that you’ll likely have a quieter environment with less distractions, allowing you to focus on exactly what you want.
Quality of Life
Obviously, quality of life is the key for all of us and I would never suggest compromising on that. Mental health has an enormous impact on that and being tired or riddled with anxiety won’t help you achieve anything.
That’s the opposite of what we want to do, which is to set and reach goals in order to better ourselves.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to time management. Only you can properly assess your time and prioritize what needs to be done and when.
What I can say is that you can make time to accomplish something that you want to. No, it’s not always easy, but it can be done.
A little pain now is worth not having regrets later. Believe in yourself, believe in what you want to do, and—most importantly—believe that you can do it.
Time Management Resources
This is just a broad overview to give you a few ideas of where to start, but I’m not going to leave you hanging. Here are some resources for you to check out for more in-depth ideas and training:
- Time Management Skills and Training (mindtools.com)
- List of Top Tips For Managing Time (Corporate Finance Institue)
- 32 Time Management Tips (toggl.com)
- Time Management Skills (skillsyouneed.com)
- 5 Essential Time Management Techniques (memory.ai)
- Time Management Worksheet (PDF)(uiu.edu)
- 11 Time Management Tips (thebalancesmb.com)