Just look at that lovely 2014 diary – stretching ahead all clean and ready for you. 168 hours in each week to do with as you wish. 8736 hours until you reach Christmas Eve next year. Or don’t you see it like that? Is the diary already blocked out with meetings, obligations, things to juggle, family to care for – do you feel stressed just thinking about it? Well stop right now and give yourself time to breathe. It is YOUR life after all. Provided we are lucky enough to remain alive and in reasonable health during 2014 we have endless choices.
I, for one, aim to avoid wasting many of those hours, days, weeks and months I have before me. Some waste is inevitable, even necessary unless we live like automatons and, as we don’t live in isolation, we are affected by the needs of others. But it’s a good time as the year draws to an end to reflect on the past 12 months and plan what we would like to repeat and what we would like to change in the new year ahead. I read a great blog yesterday that suggested how we might do this.
1. Write a list of the activities you do in a week. Include sleeping, preparing and eating meals,time at work (which isn’t necessarily the same as time spent working), socialising, exercising, etc, etc. Be as detailed as you can.
2. Put a time allocation against each of the activities, for example, you might spend 56 hours a week asleep (or trying to sleep), 40 hours in the office of which you estimate 25 are productive and so on.
3. Put another figure next to each which represents the time you would ideally want to be doing those activities. For exercising I would put 5-8 hours a week currently but ideally 10-12 hours.For studying I would ideally like 7-8 hours instead of an indeterminate number of hours slotted in as time allows.
4. Next decide which activities you can eliminate or cut down on so more time can be given to the activities you would like to be doing. What can you delegate to others? Would grocery shopping online free up a couple of hours? How about checking and acting on emails twice a day instead of reacting to them instantly? Could you fit in a walk before work each day? Or part way through the day (start a Netwalking group and combine exercise with getting to know new people).Remember, we control our time, it should not control us.
5. Plan a sample week showing your new desired time allocation. Block time for all activities rather than just the business ones. If they are written down, you can make them happen. Don’t try to fill every hour – aim for 160 of the total 168 and see how you get on.
6. Make your new plan happen – starting on New Year’s Day. Oh go on then – let’s not be unrealistic – start on 2nd 🙂
Put yourself first for a change – it doesn’t come naturally to many people. Even those of us who work for ourselves find it difficult to take control of our time, maybe it’s even especially difficult people for like us as we try to balance the demands of family with running a business? If you do become better at meeting your own priorities you will become more useful and effective anyway and this will have a direct effect on your efficiency at work and at home.
If you would like help in planning 2014, or coaching to help you to achieve your goals, do call me 01743 239283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t always practise as I preach (I’m in the office on Christmas Eve writing this whilst waiting for the boiler repair man!) but there’s always next year. Best wishes to everyone for the festive season and beyond.