Time. It’s a precious commodity, and we all get the same 24 hours in a day. Some people though, seem to be better at managing their time than others. Why is that?
While we all don’t need to be “time robots”, inflexible and chained to a schedule, we can examine a few qualities of those who manage their time well. It’s possible that by adopting some of these habits, we too can use our time more wisely.
Priorities & Values
Those who manage their time well prioritize. These individuals recognize the value of getting to the most important things first whenever possible. They value their “values”, or what’s most important to them in their beliefs, lives and relationships, and in their work or business pursuits. When we see and prioritize what we value, we are more likely to give these things their proper place.
In his article “Top 10 Qualities of Successful People Who Use their Time Wisely”, Roel Manarang says,
“People who are driven by values use their time wisely because they subscribe to the principle of “right fit”. They look for opportunities, associations, and relationships that are the right fit with their core values.”
Purpose & Goals
It follows then, that those who use time wisely hold to and respect their values enough to give them the necessary time in their schedule. Whether their goals and purpose are for the short term, long term, or somewhere in between, these people are driven by what they feel they need to do in their time here on earth. In the simplest of terms, purpose produces goals, and goals reap productivity and results.
Not everyone, of course, always or fully knows their purpose or life’s calling at a given time. But a general sense of direction can be a guiding force, driving one’s use of their time. A combination of priorities, values, purpose, and goals can work together to offer insight and direction for one’s life.
Purpose and goals are not just limited to work or business. These principles can apply to family and other relationships, raising children, and being good neighbors and citizens. A healthy balance of family life and work is important, and you usually see this reflected in those who use their time with care.
People who make good use of their time learn to work efficiently. They streamline processes and cut out distractions and focus on necessary tasks. In today’s world, avoiding distractions can be tough. There will always be distractions such as unexpected tasks, the needs of others, fatigue, difficulty focusing, etc. Social media, the news, chatty kids or coworkers, you name it, there’s a distraction out there with your name on it. While we can’t avoid them all, we can learn to better deal with them. If we know roughly when or what our common distractions are in any given week, we can be prepared and avoid or work around them as best we can.
Every single hiccup or distraction doesn’t have to be dealt with or solved at once, but an awareness of these things can help us gain insight for more efficient use of our time. A proactive attitude will help cut down on wasted time, thus streamlining our day-to-day tasks.
Pockets of Time
One who uses their time wisely also has an awareness of what I call “pockets of time”. These “pockets” or bits of unused time offer great opportunities to make headway on the to-do list. Think of the gaps that occur from week to week such as being on hold for a call, waiting for a haircut or doctor’s appointment, sitting in the pickup line for the kids at school and so on.
These small segments of time offer great opportunities to get things done for work or at home. For instance, one might:
- Sort mail.
- Plan a menu.
- Make a to-do list.
- Write a thank you note.
- Delete unwanted emails.
- Write a book or other review.
- Read short articles or newsletters.
- Brainstorm or conduct research for an upcoming project.
- Clean out a junk drawer. (Unless you’re at work or otherwise not home, of course.)
While these small tasks might not get finished in that particular span, they can lay the groundwork and offer a great head start to new and ongoing projects. Personally, I've found this to be an extremely helpful habit, often fitting more tasks in during the busiest of weeks.
When it comes to using our time wisely, it boils down to an awareness of how it’s spent. Those who use their time more efficiently don’t necessarily go overboard as tyrannical taskmasters. They aren’t always filling every spare moment with tasks. Time devoted to family, friends, and commitments, and to think, decompress, daydream, and rest are important too. Finding our right personal balance is a key factor.
So, if you find yourself challenged in this area, take heart. Anyone can make better use of their time by examining their habits and circumstances. There are great resources and opportunities available for efficient time management and heightened productivity. If we're determined, we can make the most of our allotted time each day.
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