Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, so why is it that successful people are able to achieve so much, when many others are left struggling to complete a few tasks. As children, most of us would have learnt to tell the time by the age of nine but we may spend a lifetime trying to master it.

Ultimately, the story of your life would depend on how you use the time you have been given. Your success in life depends on how you manage your own and other peoples’ time. It is our most precious resource. Time management is of course self-management. It is a combination of planning, realism and self-awareness.

But to control time we first need to understand our relationship with it. It may seem harmless to say time and time again (pardon the pun) ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I can’t make time’, ‘Time just runs away’, or ‘Time is not on my side’ but these phrases betray a belief that time is in control of you, rather the other way around. Instead, try saying ‘I can always make time’.

Think about time as if you can manufacture it at will and you will always have enough. Feel-good stories often start with ‘Once upon a time…’ the future is always rich with possibility and your time can be filled with anything you choose. Here are seven questions to focus your time management:

1. What decision would make the biggest difference in your life right now?

Whatever you do for a living you probably wish that there were more hours in the day. Investing money or resources in outsourcing can be an excellent way to free yourself up to focus on the elements of your life that need more of your attention, skills and vision.

2. If you stay on your current path, where will you end up?

Is your life heading in the direction you want it to? What is going well? What can be improved? How can you spend your time most effectively? Take 10 minutes to plan your day first thing in the morning and make sure you are not busy being busy.

3. What are you tolerating or putting up with?

Most people are ‘putting up with’ something that they feel would be too time-consuming to sort out. It might be the leaky tap, the over grown garden or even a puncture in the tyre of the family car. Whatever it is, there will come a point where there will be a cost involved in putting off the moment of the decision.

4. How different would your life be if you followed through with some of the things you are ‘putting up with’?

Take one at a time and consider the steps you need to take so that you regain control of the situation. There’s no time like the present, so take small steps to complete the tasks ahead. Remember you don’t have to be complete it straight away, but by breaking the task down you will be managing your time more efficiently. Many people get caught up with the view that they need to complete one project before they can move on to the next.

5. What will you regret not doing in your life in later years?

Few of us give ourselves enough time to reflect on the whole life picture. A common coaching exercise invites people to write their own obituary, highlighting past and future achievements. This is ‘starting with the end in mind’ in a very real sense and can wake people up to the time they have to achieve their true goals.

6. What has lack of confidence or self-belief stopped you achieving?

It’s only human to have self-limiting beliefs of some sort. I once had a self-limiting belief about being able to talk to large groups of people; now I am not fazed if I need to speak to 1,000 people. If your beliefs are getting in your way, you can choose to make time to take advice on tackling these beliefs.

7. What is your life’s purpose? What are you passionate about?

If you identify your life’s purpose you can plan every decision to take you closer to achieving your goal. Every choice you make – from actions and reactions to promises and excuses – provides clear clues as to where your true motivation and priorities lie. There is little point in aiming for something, if every time you are faced with a time choice you are diverted towards doing something else.

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bev james time management


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