People often say “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” They say things like “squeeze every last drop from every moment.” Carpe diem. Seize the day. For some people, motivation comes from a fear of getting left behind, of missing out. I think the kids call it FOMO. Fear of Missing Out. But time management isn’t about squeezing an extra hour out of your day. It’s not a lemon.
Rather, time management is about finding balance. It’s about choosing what you’re going to focus on—because whatever you choose to spend your time on is important to you, right? If it’s not, you’re not prioritizing correctly. You’re not actively making a decision, but rather letting life and circumstance choose for you.
The squeezing part of life should be enjoyable. Shouldn’t it? The next time you think about how you want to spend the coming days, weeks, months, and years, try this:
Having Trouble Prioritizing? Treat Time Management like an Emergency
Emergencies happen. From minor incidents to catastrophes, emergencies force us to prioritize our time in a short amount of time.
Think about it. Have you ever had to rush to the hospital because someone you love was in an accident? You were able to drop whatever you were doing pretty easily to go visit them, weren’t you? If we want time management that is effective and efficient, we need to approach it like an emergency.
Here’s what I mean by this:
- First, take your obligations, self-imposed and otherwise, and write them down.
- Then, go through them one by one and pretend you are in jeopardy of losing each of them.
- Next, ask yourself if you would drop everything you were doing to try and save them.
- If your immediate answer is anything except “Yes!” then whatever you’re considering at that moment isn’t a priority for you.
- Finally, adjust your life accordingly.
Color Code Your Calendar
One thing that I’ve found helpful once I have prioritized my obligations is color coding my calendar. Visualization is such an important tool if you want to make your time management strategies work. You can try this, too.
Assign work priorities one color, work non-priorities another, family time another, and so on. Use different colored pens or markers to write these obligations down in your calendar.
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