Time Management - What You Need to Know to Make Better Decisions

Publish date: 2021-03-01
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Ever wake up feeling so energized that you thought today is going to be different; that it’s going to be one of the most productive days of your life?
You made a mental list of all the things you wanted to accomplish by the end of the day, but somehow time flew by, things happened and you ended up getting so preoccupied with something that was not even on your list?

Or maybe you put the pen to the paper and made an actual list of all the things that need to get done and assigned time brackets to each one of the tasks, but somehow half way through the day external distractions popped up, the noises in your head got loud, your energy levels dropped, and so you hardly checked anything off your to-do list?

You may continue like this for a while and perhaps one night while you’re lying in bed, you start going back and forth in your mind, thinking about why you seem to be going in circles, and what you could be doing differently to make things better. That is, if, you are not one to find a justification for your stagnation.

You might realize the need for a change, start googling the best techniques to get things done, finding self-help books, reading articles, and collecting more and more information that you hope will help you, one day, improve your life.

But somehow you are still exactly where you started only with hundreds of pages of information you have saved but never actually gotten around to applying to your own life.
If you are one with a “justifier mindset” you will probably tell yourself you are just spontaneous; a free spirit who likes to set loose plans. That’s just your personality!

Maybe you think you are an unorganized procrastinator. You may believe that you lack the right skills, you are not in the right mindframe or the present circumstances won’t allow you to deal with the issue at hand. So you postpone and tell yourself you’ll deal with it later. This is how what matters most becomes your last priority.

Trust me! I can go on with plenty of other scenarios and one of them will most likely fit your story. Almost everyone, myself included, comes up with some sort of excuse to convince themselves or others why things are the way they are!

But your story doesn't have to stay this way. You are the author of your own story and you can flip the script.

So here’s a sentence that I want you to repeat at least 10 times before you jump into the next section.

Using my TIME and ENERGY effectively helps me lead a more fulfilling life.

See, in the age of INFORMATION, managing TIME and ENERGY is one of the biggest challenges for any person who decides to live a more productive and balanced life. Once you master these two resources you can be more present in your life and get more things done.

Prioritization is one Key to Productivity

As Stephen Covey once famously said, “The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Now you might not think about it this way but we are designed to function in orderly systems. The mind works better within a structure and when there's a method behind what we do.

The tool I'm going to introduce to you is one way to get you started!
This tool is a systematic way for prioritization that helps you sort and reorder your life activities in terms of urgency and importance so that you can effectively achieve your short-term and long-term goals and objectives.

With respect to scope and timeframe, it can help you recognize what's required to structure and regulate your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activities . You can also use this tool to get as specific as you want with the goals you have in your life (i.e. education, career, finances, hobbies, or even relationships).

So let me briefly explain how this works. Important signifies activities that are of value to you and can also positively impact the people around you.
Urgent signifies activities that set off the fight or flight response in us. They call for your attention.

Highly Important and Highly Urgent:

I call them ‘time bound activities’ (the red box). These are the do or die things.
They must get done in order for your life to run effectively. For instance, finishing an assignment before the deadline.

Highly Important and Slightly Urgent:

I call them ‘smart activities’ (the gold box). These are the things that you're passionate about. Things that you plan to do because it will add dimension to your life and will support your advancement. The things that you do that will serve you in the long run.
However, your mind often puts these activities on the back burner to deal with “urgent” matters. For instance, investing in your long-term development by signing up for a class.

Slightly Important and Highly Urgent:

I call them the ‘attainable yet challenging activities’ (the blue box).
These are the things that you put time and energy into because you're accustomed to them. These activities don't require much skill but need to get done. They tend to distract you from “highly important and slightly urgent” things and often come with little return of investment (ROI).
However, your mind usually steers you toward getting these things done first.
Living your day to day life out of this box will lead to chronic depression because they have no real value. For instance, house chores.

Slightly Important and Slightly Urgent:

I call them the ‘irrelevant activities” that may give you immediate but temporary joy (the green box).
Things you do to distract yourself from reality and escape the mundane. You probably consider them as your “me time.”
For instance, smoking too much pot, browsing porn websites more than necessary, spending way too much time playing a video game, binge watching TV shows, aimlessly browsing different websites or spending hours scrolling through social media posts.

This is just a framework that can help you put things into perspective so you know exactly where your time is going.
With that in mind let’s do an exercise. Grab a pen and four sheets of paper.

First, copy the four boxes above on two of the sheets. Take one of these sheets and one blank sheet and leave the other two sheets for later.

Next, I want you to turn off your phone, disconnect from the internet and find a quiet place to be alone.

On one of the blank sheets write down all the things that you did today no matter how small or insignificant! Get as specific as possible. Include phone calls, internet browsing, even the times you went to the bathroom!

Once you are done, go over what you wrote down and rate them one by one based on their level of urgency and importance and put each item under the appropriate box on the second sheet of paper.

Once every activity has been assigned to the right box, take a look at the end result. What do you notice? Do your green and blue boxes have more items assigned to them? Do you have many items assigned to the red box? How about the gold box?

Now that you're conscious of where your time goes, let's plan for tomorrow! Grab the two sheets of paper that you set aside.

Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve by the end of tomorrow?”
Keep your goals in mind and start writing down all the things that you need and want to get done tomorrow on the blank sheet. Once you are done, look over each task and before assigning them to the boxes in your second sheet ask yourself “Is this task necessary or dispensable? How will this task add value to my life?”

3 Things to Take Away From This Post

  1. I want to challenge you to get at least one “highly important and slightly urgent” activity done within the first two hours after waking up tomorrow. This will set the mood for the rest of your day. Remember that an effective you, is a happier you and a happier you will transfer joy and happiness to others.
  2. Every time you get stuck in your head with the not so pleasant thoughts, interrupt your thought pattern with the sentence I asked you to repeat earlier: Using my TIME and ENERGY effectively helps me lead a more fulfilling life.
    Do this for at least 7 days and you will see the difference!
  3. Be gentle with yourself and remember that practice makes progress.

My method is helping others to make better decisions about how to spend their time and energy.
I hope that this is the beginning of that for you.

If you find this post useful, stay tuned for my upcoming posts!

For questions email me at ivy@actuallizedsbp.com