One of the most nerve racking comments that people make to me during a coaching session is when they tell me they did not have the time to take the actions we agreed they were going to take. In fact, I no longer allow that phrase to be used; at home, at work, it doesn’t matter, you may no longer use the phrase, “I didn’t have time”.
When I am confronted with the “I didn’t have the time” comment I always ask the individual or the group how many hours they have in their day. Once we all agree that we have 24 hours in our day and 168 hours in our week I alert them that the the only phrase they may now use is, “I did not take the time”. We all have the same amount of time. I don’t have more than you and you don’t have more than me. Productive people don’t magically have additional hours that they pull out when they need them. Productive people just make better choices with their 168 hours.
So, the question really becomes, what are you doing with your time? Are you making intentional choices on how you use it, or are you allowing it to be unintentionally squandered away? By the way, most of us would never answer that we mindlessly squandered our time, we most likely use less damaging statements like, “I just don’t know where the time went.” If this is something you struggle with let me reassure you that you are not alone. The number one request for speeches I gave in 2013 was my time management and productivity lesson. Let me share a couple of tips here of what I have learned and invite you to ask a question in the comments field at the bottom if you would like to know something more on the subject.
5 Things You Can Begin Doing Today
1. Track Usage – if you do not know where your time is going, track it. Use a small notebook or index card to write down how you use your time. Do this for one week and prepare yourself to be amazed with what you learn.
2. Have a Plan – most wasted time occurs when we are not sure what needs to be done. If you schedule your day and know what you need/want to accomplish, other people/things will not be able to steal those precious moments from you. If you do not schedule your day, someone else will.
3. Invest, Don’t Spend – It’s been said that time is money, well then, why don’t we treat it like money, either investing it or spending it. When we invest something we look for a return on that investment (ROI). When we spend we get something in exchange. Be intentional with when you spend and when you invest. The default I have found is “spend” and we get very little in exchange. I am not saying that you should never just blow some time, I am saying that you need to make it an intentional choice not a default response. My biggest challenge in this area was the time between 6pm and 10pm.
4. Schedule Repeating Activities – I have found that I can control my time usage best if I schedule things like, doing email, doing social media, returning phone calls, etc. In the past I would bounce from email to Facebook to a phone call to twitter to another few emails, and so on and so on. Then I discovered that I did not need to answer every call or answer every email when they came in (that would be someone else controlling my schedule). I could actually schedule 30 minute time slots during my day to handle them at one time. This opened up time and creativity by freeing me up from the constant distraction.
5. Avoid OPD – Once I began tracking where time goes I was surprised at how much time I spent on Other Peoples Drama. Whether country music or talk radio in my car, reality TV at night, or mindless chitty-chat around the office, I was giving away enormous amounts of time to other peoples drama. Now I use my drive time to listen to books on my MP3 device; I use my evening time to read or write or listen to something meaningful; I use my office time to do my work. Does this mean no radio or TV? Of course not! Just be intentional and know what the spend is costing you (item #3 above).
I encourage you to begin today to take the small, consistent steps that will have you reclaiming valuable time that you can invest in meaningful places in your life. It’s your 168 and the CHOICE on how to use it is yours.
Photo Credit – FreeDigitalPhotos.com – By Chaiwat,