This week, I cleared out all the clutter in our house and had a garage sale. Getting rid of the extra junk was so freeing, but I realized that I probably had some clutter lurking around my to-do list also. Have you held a “time management garage sale” lately? Here are the four steps:
1. Take an inventory
Much of what we do all day happens on autopilot, so we don’t realize how we’re really spending our time until we look at it. This week, pay close attention to how you spend your time and how long you spend on each task. Sometimes tasks that we think only take a few minutes, actually consume hours of our week.
2. What is important to you
Take this opportunity to reexamine what’s important to you. Is it family? Friends? Is it spending time outside? Is it having a salary that supports going on yearly vacations? Is it eating dinner at home every evening? Is it the satisfaction you get from your job? Reflect on what’s important and how it aligns with your goals.
3. Do they match?
Now, revisit your “time log” from the week. Does how you spend your time match up with what’s important to you? You might not love your job, but if it’s moving you toward a more broad career goal, maybe it’s fine. You might realize you’re spending way too much time on email when instead you could spend a few extra minutes enjoying your morning coffee. Or perhaps you say that being active is important to you…and yet you put pretty much every other obligation in front of exercising.
4. Ditch it
Just like my house only has room for a finite amount of “stuff,” we only have time for so many things during the day. If we fill it with things that don’t either give us enjoyment, move us further toward a goal, or better the world in some way, we’ll have less room for the things that actually matter. Don’t live your life on autopilot. Make purposeful decisions with your time and change course when needed. Put those unwanted tasks out on your driveway and let them be someone else’s problem.
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