These days, our time is more valuable than ever. Being a mom, a wife, a small business owner, a room mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a blogger, and on and on, I am being pulled in a hundred different directions all the time! And I only have so much time to devote to every person, every hobby, every task in my life. Oh, and I have to fit sleep in there somewhere too!
Last week we talked about how to manage your time and some tips for managing your time well. Today's topic is still along the lines of time management, but more specifically, how to protect your time and be the guardian of your calendar (it's harder than it sounds!).
Establish Your Time Management Goals and Core Values
Make more time for work. Build stronger friendships. Dedicate more time to self care and rest. Spend more time with family. These are all time management goals that can be attainable, but establishing what they are FIRST will help set your priorities moving forward. Whatever it is that you are looking spend more time on (or take off your plate), it's best to write them down or keep them in mind as you look at your calendar and begin cutting things out and/or adding things on.
Put the Most Important Things on Your Calendar First
Once you've identified what your goals and values are, put the biggest and most important things on your calendar first. Identify the most important things in your life that need to take up that valuable real estate on your calendar FIRST, before you start adding in additional tasks and responsibilities.
Pre-Determine Your No's
I don't take any calls on Mondays. I don't work between 4 and 7. I don't work on the weekends. My pre-determined no's protect that time that is most valuable to me. Decide what your no's are! It's far easier to have sweeping no's pre-established so you don't burn out with decision fatigue. Plus, it's far easier to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I don't do dinner meetings" or "I'm sorry, I don't take calls on Mondays" rather than struggle with making a decision on a meeting or a call or an appointment that you don't want to have to make!
Learn to Say No Politely
Warren Buffet said, "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that the very successful people say no to almost everything." And Christy Wright says, "No is a complete sentence. You don't need to excuse it, explain it, justify it, or apologize for it." There are some no's that will be easy, but a lot that will be hard! You don't want to hurt people's feelings, you want to be supportive, and sometimes you actually really want to say yes, but it doesn't help you work towards your goals and your values! So learning to say no is important. Have good manners and be polite, but say what you mean. And say what you mean without making it about the other person.
Think, "Is This the Best Way You Could be Spending Your Time?"
Opportunity Cost. The Best Yes. Is what you are spending your time on getting you closer to your time management goals and core values? Think of not just what you may get from the experience, but also what the gap is between doing that and doing something else more rewarding or fulfilling. Every minute of your day has an infinite number of ways that you can spend it. Try to use it to work toward your goals!
Consistently Prioritize Your Goals and Core Values Above Everything Else
Make sure you are making room for balance, but you want to spend the most amount of your time working on those values and those goals and with those people that mean the most to you! Pick what matters the most to you and optimize for that. Set your goals and plan your calendar around them. You can get around to the other tasks and duties LATER.
YOU NEED TO BE YOUR OWN PRIORITY
Just like we talked about last week, you must take time for yourself. And your own well-being and self care needs to be a priority! If you're not at least making some time for yourself, no matter how much you love what you're doing or who you're spending your time with, you WILL burn out. It can be as simple as a morning devotional or getting out of your house and working in a coffee shop once a week. Getting a pedicure. Taking a Sunday nap! Maybe staying up late after everyone else goes to bed and binging Netflix is self care for you! Maybe spending time with a good friend is self care. Fitting in those things that are restorative and recharging and give you a sense of balance are important and will help motivate you when it's really time to focus and work.
What do you do to protect your time? How do you prioritize your tasks? And how do you fit self care into your schedule?