by Angela Ellis
There are only 24 hours in each day. I’ve heard people say they wish they had a couple more hours so they could get more done. Making more time is not possible; being intention about how you spend your time is a better plan. Here are some proven techniques and considerations for making the most of everyday.
Urgent—must be done right away or there will be consequences. Sometimes, it might be necessary to drop everything and put out a fire or handle an emergency.
Important—do this to gain something positive. When we engage in things like planning, learning, or working on our priorities, we are doing things that are important. This could also include necessary meetings.
Distraction—some activities take up a significant amount of time but don’t provide much payoff or benefit. These could be some of your phone calls, some emails, or interruptions in your schedule.
Excess—as the name implies, these activities give us no return on the investment of time and energy. Consider whether or not some of your social media, internet, TV, or phone time could be excessive for you.
Make a list of all the tasks you complete at work over the next week. As you go, document the approximate amount of time you spend on each item. At the end of the week, assign a category to each task—Urgent, Important, Distraction, or Excess.
What Matters to You Most
Make a list of ten things that matter to you most right now—five things in your personal life, and five things in your professional life. Your personal list might include family, (no need to name each person); scrapbooking; exercising; or your pets. Professionally, you could list demanding projects you are working on; training a new assistant; attending an upcoming conference; or preparing for your performance review.
Block Time for Non-Negotiables
Among the ten things you’ve identified, if they are really important you must make time for them. Make note of the ideal amount of time, you would like to spend on each item. Then explore what is keeping you from reaching that ideal state. Each day you spend all 24 hours allotted to you. How do you want to spend them? In order to spend more time on one thing you have to spend less time on something else. Often busy administrative professionals give up the wrong things—like sleep or exercise. Instead of giving up something Important, consider spending less time on something in your Distraction or Excess zones. If you want to spend more time on family game night, you might have to spend less time on Facebook. If you want to have time to study for your graduate school exam, you might want to get the kids to do some of the housework; or have the groceries delivered so you can spend less time at the grocery store.
Spend your time in ways that reap the greatest return. Decide today what you want and how you should spend your time to get it.
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