Why is it so easy to make resolutions and so hard to keep them? It’s because it’s difficult to change behaviors if we don’t change our daily routine. Whether we realize it or not, we’re often on auto-pilot, and despite our best intentions, we default back to the familiar.
Disclaimer: This blog is not about planning a dream vacation or the ultimate party. If however, you want to create more time to invest in your professional and personal goals in the New Year, please keep reading.
Time is truly priceless. Money can’t buy it, and once it’s spent, you can never get it back. You already know the wide variety of career, family and social demands competing for your time and attention, so I won’t waste time describing the problem, and instead jump straight to a framework I’ve used successfully. I call it “D-signing Time”. Whenever my schedule cannot accommodate all that I want to do and need to do, I “D-sign” my time using the following steps:
Determine your priorities. May Kay Ash consistently taught the power of a “Six Most Important Things to Do Today List”. This simple habit can create a daily discipline that facilitates the consistent achievement of success one day at a time.
Decide to accept the fact that no matter how smart you are, how well you multi-task, or how hard you try, you cannot squeeze more than 24 hours into a day – (except perhaps when you fly from New York to California!) Until and unless you decide you have to make choices and trade -offs, you will spread your energy and attention too thin. Instead of giving the “best of you”, you wind up giving “the rest of you” that’s leftover from trying to do too much.
Step Three: Make changes and tradeoffs using the following questions:
What can I Delete? If you’re a ‘can-do’ woman, (and aren’t we all?!), then the hardest thing to do is say “no”, or do less. Yet one of the most common keys to success cited by successful people across all professions is their ability to know when and how to say “no”. Sometimes the best way to determine what you can stop doing is simply take a routine item off of your to do list and see if anyone notices, or minds.
What can You Delay? When can you say, “Yes, but not now.”? There’s no doubt we live in an age of instant gratification, but that doesn’t mean everything is required immediately. ASAP is often interpreted as “right now!”, but remember, it stands for as soon as possible, and we need to remind folks sometimes “possible” may take a little time.
What can you Decrease? What can you simplify? What is the minimum effort/output that will be satisfactory? Does every meeting need to be 30 or 60 minutes? Not always! As often as possible, I actually schedule my meetings for 20 or 45 minutes, which provides me with time to stay current with emails, phone calls and quick follow-ups.
What can you Delegate? Who can help you accomplish what needs to be done? Are you leveraging the full talent of your team? Are you taking full advantage of ways technology can streamline your efforts? The next time someone offers to help you, don’t be so quick to say, “No, I’m fine.” Give them the opportunity to help you so you can leverage their expertise in the future if/when you need to.
Define and defend your time boundaries. Once you’ve determined how best to use your time, don’t give others free access. How many times has a colleague asked you if you have a minute, and then taken 10 minutes or more? How many times have you arrived promptly for a meeting that started late, had no agenda, and ended with a decision to hold a follow-up meeting?! Protect your time by being more insistent that others be prepared to make the most of your time. Also be mindful of when and how you might be sabotaging your time boundaries by spending too much time rethinking past events or worrying. Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Channel that energy into action!
When people are not pursuing all that they desire, lack of time is the most common reason – aka excuse – that is given. How many times have you said or heard, “I don’t know where I’m going to find the time to do _______.” There is no such thing as finding time. Time is not sitting in a box in your closet or your garage. You need to make time for what matters to you by thinking differently and purposely about how you design your time. As Mary Kay Ash would always say, “You can do it!”
Do you have any tips for “d-signing” your time in the New Year? Please share them with us in the comments below!
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