How To Make More Time For What Really Matters
This is a guest post written by Andria Bicknell. Andria is a contributing writer and editor for Aspire. She writes about recovering from the effects of perfectionism on her own blog, Type A Plans B. Andria draws her leadership experience from ministry, business and home.
- Wes Saade, M.D.
This week, I heard Michael Hyatt describe how most of us are overrun with the urgent. It’s amazing how constantly putting out fires can totally extinguish our pursuit of the things that really matter.
Where Does the Time Go?
You sit down to your desk with your morning coffee at 8am. A few minutes later it’s 10:30, you sip cold coffee and realize you haven’t even made it through your emails yet. The revolving door to your office is always spinning, as is your head. And you basically never get to set your phone down. Where does the time go? As leaders in particular, everyone needs your input, your signature, your approval, your expertise…your time and your attention. We are constantly bombarded with both the meaningful and the meaningless. As Michael Hyatt puts it, we “sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent…and we never really get to those things that matter.”
Five Ways to Make More Time
How do you find time for the things that really matter? According to Hyatt, “The way you find time is you make time.” Just like you, I sometimes discover that my calendar is overfilled, my tasks are overdue, and my goals are collecting dust. But I have found that these five principles release me from the grip of the urgent and into the execution of the important.
- Prioritize. Intentionally sit down weekly—at minimum—and prioritize what must be achieved against what is negotiable. I make it a habit to spend 30-60 minutes every Sunday to examine my tasks for the week both personally and professionally. I revisit my priorities daily to evaluate my progress and determine what may need to be rescheduled for another day.
- Schedule. Get items off your task list and onto your calendar. If it is important, schedule time for it. If you do not intentionally make time for the important, it simply will not get done. There are excellent project management tools available like Nozbe or Trello. But I know each project must still find a home on my calendar or it will easily be neglected for the urgent.
- Delegate. Quit trying to do everything yourself. If you want to free up more time, empower others by delegating tasks and projects. Let them show you what they can do. Watch for teachable moments to train them as needed, but resist the urge to micromanage or come behind them to “fix it.” When you delegate, you empower others and free up time for yourself to engage in other priorities.
- Buy time. There are many tasks that you could pay someone else to do. Whether it’s outsourcing print jobs, hiring someone to file or organize your office, acquiring a virtual assistant, having a housekeeper or a landscaper…you can buy more time for yourself. While these things cost you money, they can often save you time. Consider the value of your time and how it could potentially be spent on other priorities (including rest and relaxation). Before you dismiss it, it’s worth running the numbers to see if you could benefit from buying a little time here and there.
- Make margins. This one was a life-changer for me. I used to be under the impression that if I scheduled more into my day, I could get more accomplished. Instead I was constantly frustrated that I could not get everything done. I finally learned to build margins or cushions into each day. Now, I minimize my frustrations about getting things done because I allow for the unexpected. As a bonus, I am much more prepared to address the urgent when it arises.
Don’t allow yourself to be constantly overrun by the urgent. Take charge of your time. Make time for the things that really matter.