I’m not naturally good at time management. I could go on and on about all the distractions that keep me from doing what I tell the world I was born to do—Write. But I won’t because nobody cares. If you’ve been following my writing career and anxiously awaiting my next release you know this already anyway.
I have always been of the belief that if you want something badly enough, regardless of what it is, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Wanting to lose weight obviously isn’t enough to keep me out of the refrigerator after dinner. Wanting to save money isn’t enough to keep a shopaholic out of the mall when he knows he can neither afford nor does he need another $600 suit. Wanting to finish a novel isn’t enough of an incentive when I’d rather unwind in front of the TV at the end of the day where I don’t have to think at all.
Apparently the dream or losing weight or saving money or finishing a project that’s been hanging in limbo for too many years isn’t powerful enough to call us to action.
What is? How can I get from the image of writing books on a beach somewhere that have readers salivating for more to actually putting in the work required? Whatever our goals or dreams I think most of us are going about it all wrong.
In our crazy busy nonstop lives, how do we find the time to actually do what we say is important?
Recently a friend told me about what works for her that is so simple it might work. She said she lists all the things she needs to do or wants to do and puts them in 3 categories labeled A, B, & C.
Our have-to, daily grind, can’t-get-out-of chores go in Category A. Going to work. Grocery shopping. Personal hygiene. Cooking dinner. Making sure homework is finished. Walking the dog. Those are have-to chores we can’t get out of, at least not for very long.
Category B is items we want to do, but the world won’t stop spinning if we don’t. Things like date night. Manicuring the lawn so it’s perfect like the neighbors’. Shopping for vacation clothes. (Wear what you wore last year.) Sending thank-you notes after a party. You may really want to do these things, but if you didn’t, is there anyone else on the planet who would notice?
Then there is Category C where you have the most wiggle room. Watching TV. (Yes, I love it too. It helps me unwind from a stressful day but what a time waster.) Online shopping or games. (I can kill an afternoon on Ebay.) Reading. Posting hilarious memes on Facebook. Camping. Hiking. Swimming.
Don’t get me wrong. None of these things are bad or a total waste of your day. They can be stress-relieving, fun, and great exercise, which we know benefit us in so many ways. But if I spend the afternoon writing instead of scouring Ebay for old board games I loved to play as a child, how much closer would I be to accomplishing something I claim to really want to do?
I will never find the time to finish my novel. Or exercise. Or visit an aging relative. I must make the time.
Here are a few things to help you make time for what’s important.
- Make a list of the things you have to do today. Include appointments, work hours, kids’ activities, and cooking dinner.
- Now list what you need to do in order to reach your goals. These tasks need priority too. What can you do while sitting at the doctor’s office or waiting to pick someone up from ball practice? Call the aging relative you haven’t talked to in a while. Plan next week’s menu and make a grocery list. Fill out those thank-you cards instead of spending the time catching up on social media or playing online games.
- Categorize the importance of all the things you need to do. Category A must be done so be mindful of what goes there. Don’t immediately put a non-life or death item in Category C since the world won’t stop spinning if you don’t do it. If it’s your anniversary or you haven’t spent quality time with your significant other in two weeks, Date Night is a must.
- Keep track of your stuff. I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest timewasters is searching for something I put down and then forgot because I was too busy to put it where it belonged in the first place. The good Lord only knows how many hours of my week are lost searching for my phone or my running shorts or my checkbook.
- Take action. If something is really important—really worth going after—we must search out how to make it happen.
Only I can decide if my writing is important enough to fight for. I must be willing to give something else up to go after it. Not my job. Not yet anyway. Not time with God. Or family time. Or personal hygiene. Or a myriad of other things that require my attention. But if it’s important enough I’ll make time.
I don’t want to look back with regret and say; “If only I had made the time…If only I had pursued it like a dog after a bone.” I’ll never find the time to go after what I want. It’s not lost out there somewhere. It can’t be found. It must be made.
What are your biggest time wasters? What do you always say you want to do but never get around to? How have you learned to prioritize the Want-To’s & the Have-To’s?
Next time I’ll post about setting goals and how to reach them.