“I don’t have the time for that!” is the number one excuse we give for not doing the things we need to and want to. Here are some realistic and practical ideas on making time every day.
We all have priorities, and they always play a role in our decisions. The challenge is that often our priorities are not articulated well. For example, paying bills is important. However, many of us don’t consider it a priority to pay them early. If we did, they would never become urgent, and take precedence over other priorities. One of the simplest things we can do to make life easier is to make it a priority to not let things become ‘urgent’. Pay those bills on the day you receive them. Don’t wait for the last day to submit that assignment. Get your annual dental checkup on schedule. Renew your insurance in advance. Overseas workers set one of the best examples of this. For most migrant workers the first priority is to support their families back home. As soon as they get paid, they send money online to their loved ones.
We are no strangers to planning. It is something that life teaches us, usually during our years in school. Unfortunately as adults many of us fail to take advantage of this useful tool, especially in our personal lives. We can’t plan for everything that happens. Yet, we can plan for everything we want. Here is a small example. 80% of the items in our grocery lists are things we buy repeatedly. A simple shopping list on the phone can save us hours in repeat trips to the market for missed items.
Planning also works for big ticket items. For example, let’s say I want to make a move to the job I want. For that I need a new qualification. Getting it requires me to invest 200 hours of learning. That’s part 1 of the plan. Part 2 would be to extract those hours from my current schedule. Thus, planning also helps us understand the feasibility of our choices. It saves the time that would be wasted on unfeasible options.
The hard truth of life is that we don’t have unlimited time. The best of us can’t do everything we want. Here applies the tough but necessary function of discarding some of the things on our lists. For example, I may want to be both, a nuclear physicist and an opera singer. The mutually opposed demands of the two professions do not allow me the time to be good at both. If I abandon the singer ambition, I can channel all my time and energy to becoming a great physicist. We must discard the unattainable goals and keep only the realistic objectives.
The same applies to smaller, everyday decisions. Multitasking is a misnomer. Complex decisions and tasks require our undivided attention. We would save a whole lot of our time (and energy) by simply doing one thing at a time, and by getting it right the first time.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” Evidently he was not big on delegating. Delegation is a simple everyday function which lets all of us benefit from our complex synergies. The best delegators I know are moms. They get kids to clean their rooms, take out trash, and do a host of other things. However, there are a few important things to remember when delegating. First, make sure that the person doing the task is competent and motivated. Moms have many subtle ways to provide feedback and encouragement, as well as to correct. Second, monitor to check that the task is done adequately, because ultimately the delegator is the owner of the task. Third and perhaps most important, be prepared to give a reward. Often, the best reward you can give is to do a delegated task in return.
Refusal is an act of kindness (not rudeness). When someone asks you to do something and you can’t, set the right expectation. Don’t say ‘yes’ because later you are sure to disappoint. Also don’t give a ‘maybe’ response and leave them hanging. Refuse politely but clearly. The person who wants the job done will find other ways. Meanwhile you will have less stress and more free time to spend on your priorities.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.