“Where did the time go?”
We’ve all said something like this or heard it said to us before. Time moves to the beat of its own drum. There’s nothing we can do to stop it or slow it down it just keeps moving even when we aren’t. So are we doomed to this feeling of not having enough time or wanting more? Is there really a such thing as time management?
The answer to both of those questions is NO! No we aren’t doomed to feeling like we don’t have enough time but there also isn’t a such thing as time management.
I know that sounds like a contradiction but stick with me here, there’s a solution and a way to make it all make sense.
First let me get into the whole, “no such thing as time management” and the point of this article. Time itself cannot be managed, there’s nothing we can do to change it. To manage something would mean that you have some sort of influence on it and that’s just simply not the case when it comes to time.
However you do have influence over yourself! You are the biggest factor in your own life, and the only one who can really make a difference in it. So it’s not really time management as much as it is self discipline.
We often waste time doing things that feel good rather than things that will give us the results in the long run. Simply we are undisciplined, so time seems to fly past us with no real progress being made.
Yes, it's difficult to manage ourselves, as we’ve been taught to have someone else do it for us. From parents, to teachers to bosses we’re never really taught to discipline ourselves, and that makes “time management” difficult.
But it doesn’t have to be…
It can actually be quite simple to have productive days rather than busy days leaving you feeling worn out and unaccomplished. But first, you have to be willing to change your mentality, put in the work, and be consistent with the practice of disciplining yourself.
Are you ready?
OK, let’s get into it.
Setting Valuable Goals
There’s no discipline without goals. There has to be a reason for what you’re doing, otherwise why do it at all? Set your goals for your life, business, leisure, etc. Know what you’re reaching for before you start formulating a plan for what you’ll do each day.
Do you want more sales? More brand awareness? A cleaner home? A better relationship with a loved one?
No matter what it is that you want you must identify it first before moving forward.
Your goals should have meaning to you, don’t set goals based on someone else’s values. Even when your goals are relationship based the relationship should be one that you value.
Basing goals in someone else’s values will only result in you giving up on them down the road. When your goals align with your personal values you have an attachment to them that will aid in the next steps to self discipline and making the most of your time.
Creating an Honest and Realistic Plan of Action
Now that you’ve set your goal, how do you reach it?!?
What are the steps necessary to go from where you are right now to where you want to be? To answer this question you may need to do some research, or some soul searching. The process of creating your plan of action will depend on the goal.
Be sure that you’re honest with yourself, and realistic about the time that it will take to execute this plan. Don’t rush yourself, rushing often results in making costly mistakes. And the cost is more often than not, time consuming and the point here is to make effective use of our time.
In planning it’s great to create mini goals as they help keep you motivated and encouraged as you hit them. Some call these milestones.
Considering the Consequences
Other than mini goals, you’re probably going to need some other sort of motivator to keep you disciplined and stop you from binge watching The Walking Dead or Stranger Things on Netflix when you’re bored and instead work toward your goal.
This thing is consequences.
Think about it, as a kid if the consequences of going against your parents or teachers were scary enough for you, you thought twice about going against them. But if the consequences were light you might take the risk of not doing as you knew you should.
It’s human nature.
This also translates into work. Think of the bad employee, they don’t care how they get reprimanded. Because they don’t value the job, the goals, the company or their clients. The consequences of losing the job aren’t terrifying to them and they probably can definitely imagine their life being ok without the job they likely hate.
But then look at the good employee. They have a value in the position they hold. Losing this position would be devastating to them. They value performing well and excelling within their job so they do so each day.
It’s quite simple to set consequences when your goals align with your values and desires. Think about the result if you don’t do what you need to do.
For me not writing this article would mean that I don’t get to share my knowledge with you on time management and self discipline. It means that I am not growing myself, or my brand as an influence or authority on a subject that I’ve personally struggled with and overcame. I feel that I would be doing myself and others a disservice by not sharing.
You have to decide for yourself what your consequences are and make sure they are big to you. They don’t have to be big to someone else because this is your time, your life, your goals and your consequences!
Considering the Rewards
In line with considering your consequences is considering your rewards.
I mean who doesn’t love rewards right!
The obvious reward is reaching your goal, but what does that mean to you? How are you going to feel once you’ve accomplished it? How will your life change?
If you’re that good employee I mentioned earlier, maybe it’s a job promotion or a pay raise. This could change life drastically from the people you meet and interact with to the lifestyle you can live outside of work.
Or maybe your goal is related to relationships like we mentioned earlier and this is a spouse or a child you’re working on the relationship with. These positive interactions will be impactful to both of you, and now when you come home or spend time together the value has increased and you’re both happy to do so.
Now that you’ve considered both the consequences and the rewards you can see just how important it is to you to make sure that these tasks take a priority in your life and it makes it easier to hold yourself accountable to do them.
Reduce the unimportant
Identifying what’s important is the easier part to self discipline. The hard part is getting out of the bad habits of doing unimportant things.
This will take time so be patient with yourself.
However it’s necessary when we’re talking about being effective with our time.
Sometimes it’s just not fun to do the things that we know we need to and we’d much rather waste time laughing at memes on Facebook. Well that doesn’t get us anywhere, that leaves us stagnant.
Not to say that you should never laugh at memes or sit back, that may be necessary at times to clear your mind and wind down.
However, it's important to realize when you’re simply distracting yourself from what you need to do to reach your goals and when you’re honestly in need of some down time.
Take some time to review your day(s) and see where you’re wasting time and how that time could be better used to reach that goal you said you don’t have time for.
Time management isn’t a thing it’s just a way of us saying that we need to be held accountable and that we’re lacking discipline. It’s a process to get from undisciplined and feeling as if we don’t have enough time in the day, to feeling free of that burden and seeing time as the extremely valuable resource that it is.
It can be difficult to get started and even more difficult to be consistent with it. Remember that it takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle!
If you are in need of help managing your time and holding yourself accountable, try getting an accountability coach. Here’s an amazing hands on program that lasts 4 weeks and helps you build up the habit of holding yourself accountable and sets you up for a change in your mindset, and lifestyle. There’s also a DIY version of the same program if you just need more on the concept and processes.
Alena Michelle is an accountability coach and mompreneur. Becoming a mother opened her eyes to the sad reality that many mothers loose their identities in motherhood. Throughout her own journey to find herself Alena learned that making herself a priority helped her to become a better mother to her daughter and a better wife to her husband.