Make time work for you instead of against you
Have you ever thought,
“If I just had one more hour in the day, I could get so much more done?”
Or, “If only I didn’t have all these responsibilities and demands placed on my shoulders, then I could spend more time with my family and have time to relax.”
Or, “I can’t wait to retire so I finally have time to pursue what I actually want to do.”
You aren’t alone.
From the very beginning, we established the concept of time to manage how we structure our days. From tracking the seasons, to knowing when to go to work and when to go home, to taking medication and scheduling appointments – the concept of time is so engrained in our society, yet why are so many of us still slaves to a never-ending to do list?
In my earlier days, I took numerous courses on time management that left me feeling more frustrated than when I began. Even today, many of the courses seem to miss the mark as they either offer antiquated strategies that fit a pre-internet era, or take a “there’s an app for that” approach that fails to address the full scope of managing time across the board. Many strategies seemed so complex and demanding, I found myself giving up within a few days. Then I determined there must be a better way forward, so I created a simple 3-step framework to apply to the “Rule of 168 Hours” to finally make time work for me instead of against me. Let me explain.
Has your calendar ever looked like this?
Week after week of the same boring, generic, black print gives no meaning or emotional purpose into what you’re doing – it’s simply blah. There is no time for physical activity, recharging for mental clarity, working on relationships, etc. This singular focus means everything else in your life is left up to chance, and likely falling apart because you aren’t dedicating the time to making your life something you actually desire and deserve. When each week visually looks like there’s no room for joy and feels depressing and boring, then the rest of your life will reflect the same.
So, you may be wondering, what could it look like instead? Following these 3 steps could be the difference between continuing to feel enslaved by time, or free of it. Finally, you can feel free from running in circles, and confidently know you are making the most out of the precious time you’ve been given. Here are the secrets:
- Create a calendar with life on the pages
One of the old myths when it comes to managing time is that your vacation time must be dictated by the work you complete. Many people work Monday through Friday at 8 – 5 jobs and reserve all their “fun” time for the weekends. Or they can’t wait for retirement so they can really have vacations and relax. Don’t wait! Fill your calendar with life today. Schedule in fun, vacation, and family time before any other appointments for work because these should be your first priority. This simple change will help you recharge your batteries with personal time and be more productive and effective during your work hours because you will have a better understanding of exactly how much time is available for you to complete your work assignments.
When it comes to setting up your calendar, whether on paper, your phone, or a computer, it is also incredibly helpful to use colors to code all the things you are doing. The colors you choose should be labeled by subject; for example, family time may be in blue, work in green (for money), personal time in purple, etc. As you begin to use your calendar weekly, you will start to see color patterns and easily spot where you could be out of balance. This visual representation of where you are investing most of your time can quickly help you realize if you need to adjust your commitments to achieve greater balance week to week.
Lastly, make sure to use a daily planner with room for hourly entries. When planning your full 168 hours, it is critical to be able to place your commitments in every hour of the week – and yes, this includes planning your rest! This may seem overwhelming at first, but when you begin to plot your schedule hourly, you will also see pockets of time you didn’t realize you had that really add up in the long term. Just think, you may find you have an extra 20 minutes between dinner with the family and homework time, and perhaps this is a great opportunity to spend those 20 minutes connecting with your family or completing a few chores so you don’t have to do them on Saturday. Twenty minutes every day adds up to an additional two hours and twenty minutes by the end of the week…which equals over 8 hours by the end of the month – what could you do with an additional 8 hours of time?
- Language matters
The language you use when you add things to your calendar will make or break you. Have you ever looked at your next appointment and groaned as you thought, “Ughh I’d rather be doing anything but this?” Your language around different events will either empower you or demotivate you – it’s up to you.
The key to using powerful language in the subject lines of your calendar involves the simple shift from listing what you’re doing to what you want achieve by doing that particular thing. For example, rather than writing “workout” in your calendar, how would it feel to see “uncovering my chiseled body” in the subject line? That’s a pretty powerful shift! Moving from “have to” language to a “get to” motivation also ties whatever you are doing back to your purpose and your original intent as to why you want to do this in the first place. Here are some other examples:
Building a strong and healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Running to build a healthy heart.
Leading health by example to inspire my children.
Swimming for fun and reconnecting to the water.
Creating financial abundance to retire on my terms.
Sharing my abundance with others.
Doing my part to keep the energy of money moving
Enhancing the economy with financial flow
Meeting at work
Strategize with coworkers to develop a plan for success.
Join thoughtfully with others for success.
Merging minds for tactical outcomes.
Enterprising meeting with boss for advancement.
Safely take children to school while spending quality time listening and inspiring.
Coach softball for youth group fun.
Take out spouse for hot date night fun.
Recharging vacation for rest and fun with family.
Meditate for rest and relaxation.
Read an engaging book to enhance my mind.
Plan fishing trip with friends to refresh and invigorate.
Take a walk on the beach to enjoy nature and relax.
Enjoying favorite TV show for pure pleasure.
Can you see now how your full 168 hours can come to life when you use uplifting, positive, and inspiring verbiage? Who doesn’t want a life infused with all of the above?? It sounds like a pretty inspiring, invigorating, and joy-filled life to me.
The most important thing in this step is that you make sure to connect with your deep feelings and emotions regarding events with your language. In order for life to be infused in your calendar, you must make sure it is meaningful to you. Remember that what you put on these pages is what you are also programming your mind to expect. Use your imagination and get creative!
- Be consistent
The biggest mistake I see when it comes to time management is a lack of consistency. When you take action from a place of discipline instead of it being rooted in purpose, the change is short-lived because “it’s not your strength that holds you to your purpose; it’s the strength of your purpose itself.” You must have clarity on why getting the most out of your 168 hours is important. I am sure you have taken courses and read books and listened to seminars on time management skills – and yet here you are again. Perhaps you did well carrying out the instructions for a little while, and then slowly things went back to how they were. Without a clear purpose and consistent action, nothing will ever work well and there will be no lasting change. You must become clear on why this is important to you. What is not managing your time well costing you? What will you gain by taking back control of your life?
When it comes down to it, remember purpose, purpose, purpose, practice, practice, practice…
Initiating these 3 simple steps may take some getting used to, and it may take a bit of time upfront. But the more you practice and are consistent, the easier it will become You will find more of the items on your calendar can be set to repeat every week, so after the initial setup planning out your 168 hours can actually be quick and easy.
Remember the most important keys to your success are persistency and consistency. Do a little bit at a time and make the rules easy to win. Perhaps your first week you schedule 100 hours, then 130 hours, then 160 – work your way up to the full 168. This practice takes only a few minutes a day but I promise it will give you back more time than you ever imagined you had. Commit to this practice for just one month, and in four short weeks see how this simple process can radically change your life. My guess is you will have such amazing results, you won’t have any other option but to continue.
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