Sometimes I think that time is hiding from me. That throughout the day, a few hours here and there will sneak away and I’ll lose sight of them. So I end up with only 18-20 hour days. And I find myself asking, Where did the time go?
I think busyness allows time to hide from me, and poor planning, and perhaps a lack of discipline. Have you noticed how some people seem to accomplish a lot more than others? Have you ever met with someone on a regular basis and that person keeps showing up with new projects completed and new ideas implemented? I know I have…and I sometimes want to punch them in the neck.
But before I throw any blows, I want to ask these people how they do it. How do you find the time?
I would like to think I know a little bit about time management. In my work with students I try to assist them with making the most of the time they have. I’ve created some tools that help people manage their time (Weekly Schedule-Task-Planner and The Leader’s Daily View …both downloadable pdf’s). I try to keep a handle on what I’m doing with the time I have. But every so often, time hides from me. And I wonder where it went.
Instead of being reactive to the time I have each day, I find that I need to be more proactive. I need to be intentional. If I don’t manage my time, someone else will. If I don’t set my calendar, someone else will. If I just allow the schedule to manage itself, my days will grow shorter and shorter.
So here’s a principle that I’m thinking about today to help me find the time I need to do the things I need to do (work, play, think, family, fun, projects, etc)…
Small blocks of time occur naturally throughout the day and I need to take advantage of those. Large blocks of time occur intentionally throughout the day and I need to create those.
There are going to be small windows of time that happen on their own each day. Five to ten minute segments that make up the transitions from one thing to another. There may be travel time, time in between meetings, waiting for someone, a missed appointment, etc. These moments happen everyday. But I’m not always prepared to take advantage of those moments.
If I know ahead of time what types of activities, thinking, projects, work, play, etc I can accomplish in those moments, then I’m positioned to take advantage of them. This is why it’s important to know what’s important to get done. Put your day down on paper, or on your google calendar, or on your phone. Have a list of activities that you can work when time shows up and seems to give you a little bit extra that you weren’t planning on.
On the other side, one…two…or three hour blocks of time don’t appear naturally. I’ve never had two hours just show up. Those blocks of time have to be created by me. I need to grab my calendar, look at my schedule and carve those bigger segments of time into my day. I have to be intentional with these and there’s a good reason why I should.
My best work, my most creative and productive work will happen during those large segments of time that I create for myself. I can’t be creative and get the ideas flowing in five to ten minute chunks. I need to have some time to let things percolate and build up. If I don’t allow myself a large segment of time to do that, I won’t produce my best stuff. One other thing to note here is that I rarely schedule these big chunks of time in the afternoon. For me, I am not at my best at that time. I like to either place those blocks of time early in the morning or late at night. It might be different for you – but only you know you.
Here’s my challenge today (for myself and for you):
1. Identify the small blocks of time and have a list of things that you can work on when they show up.
2. Own your calendar and find big chunks of time where you can devote your best work and intentionally block that time off.
Have you discovered some other ways to find time when it seems to be hiding from you?
I always welcome your thoughts and ideas in the comments.