We waste a lot of time. We put off doing the very thing we should be doing by using displacement activities i.e. unnecessary activities that you do because you are trying to put off doing more important activities.
In the digital age we constantly check social media feeds and email inboxes because we feel we might be missing out on a crucial piece of news or information. Each time you find yourself reaching for your phone ask yourself what you’d like to see happen next – scrolling through a newsfeed or getting down to that important task on your to-do list?
If you allow yourself to be more present and deliberate with your actions you’ll come to realise that a better use of your time is to follow the plan you set out for the day – rather than distracting yourself with newsfeeds or other people’s agendas.
How much is your time worth?
Benjamin Franklin said: “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” Rather than asking yourself how much is your time worth in terms of money – consider how much your time is worth in terms of enriching your life. You can always get more money but you can’t get more time. Use your time wisely and you’ll be far more content than chasing money. Think of time as your currency.
How to plan your week
- Analyse how you spend you time at the moment – Start by tracking what you spend your time on over the course of a week and how much time you spend on those things. This exercise can be a real eye opener. We are generally very poor at knowing how we spend our time. It’s only by logging it in real time that you can build up an honest picture of your week. If you’re a Mac user the Timing app is a slick way of carrying out this exercise. It observes how you use your Mac and categorizes your activities. You can see how you spent your time and how productive you were.
- Look at your week ahead – Break your week down into hours i.e. 24 x 7 = 168. Now start carving up your week into hours. It might look like this: sleep = 56 hours, job = 40 hours, commute = 4 hours, gym = 6 hours and housework = 15 hours. This is your first draft of your week. Don’t be upset if it looks like you haven’t used your time wisely. Instead you should feel positive that you have an opportunity to make better use of your time. Now it’s time to create the second draft (and final plan) of your week by putting things in your calendar. Think about telling your time where to go and giving each hour a job to do. It will help you realise that your time is the most precious thing you have.Start by getting the most important things in your calendar first and build everything else around them. For example, if you are studying for a qualification you would put revision time in first.Don’t forget that your week will need to have rest times included, so put those in your calendar as well. Get into the habit of thinking: if it’s not in my calendar then it doesn’t exist.Use blocks of colour for each type of task. This will help you to see the shape of your week easily. Each task should last for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour, otherwise you won’t be able to view it in your calendar easily and it will easily get overlooked.
- Self journal – Each day write down what you did and didn’t achieve. This will help keep you accountable and provide a document you can use as a review tool at the end of each week to champion your successes. Journaling will keep you more aware of your actions throughout the day as you challenge yourself to complete the tasks you want to write about in your journal each day.
What happens when things don’t go to plan?
First of all – don’t panic! If you feel emotional you will make bad decisions. Most problems can be resolved without detrimental impact to those involved.
Secondly, leave a physical marker in the task you were working on. This will help pick up the task again because you will know what the next step is.
Once you have left the marker, resolve the issue and take some time to reflect on what you could do next time to avoid things not going to plan. Then move on and keep a positive mindset.