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  • Writer's pictureMartin Svolgart

3 Tips to get control over your time

Is time your friend or enemy?

I'm sure many have heard this, and I'll paraphrase. The billionaire and the bum both have 24 hours in a day, but how they choose to spend that time is very different.

Today, I’m posing food for thought and invite you to join in on a little exercise that’ll take some time, but it’s well put forth because it can buy you a lot of time in the future. The point of today’s post is to become aware of what we spend our time doing so that we can look at what value or lack thereof we get in return.

So, carve out some quality me-time, grab a beverage of choice, and a piece of paper and a pen.

Tip One

Make a list of everything you do in a week

For instance:

You sleep, eat, go to work, you shop for groceries, pick up the kids, shower, socialize, house chores, hobbies, sport, scroll social media, watch TV, organize your sock drawer, you get the picture.

All of it monopolizes a chunk of time.

Write in the number of minutes/hours you spend on each task and add it all up for a week. If you’re unsure, then track a week or even a month and calculate your average on the reoccurring tasks.

What you have now is a list of your life. Does anything stand out to you?

If not, the next step will help you get clarity.

You can take two markers in different colors, and one will be the color for value, the other time robber. The latter entries are usually easy to peg and probably stood out to you already. They’re the ones that makes us feel a bit guilty.

If we feel guilty, it means we know that this isn’t time well spent and that that action isn’t providing us any value.

Not having a clear idea of what we’d want to fill that time with, though, merely means we’re still exploring our passions. (And yes, that plural S is supposed to be there because life isn’t so cut and dry that we should have merely one in our life). That’s okay, it’s meant to be a journey (read more here). Exploring it will be time well spent, and journaling is an excellent tool to spend time on as it’ll bring value later on.

Tip Two

Another tool to work with to get clarity over our time is to literally zero in on it and to prioritize everything.

Every day, we’re presented with a boatload of tasks and opportunities, and it’s an artform to figure out what needs or even deserves our attention. It’s your life, so only you can determine this. Just know that it is not selfish to say no! Self-care isn’t a luxury—it’s mandatory if you want to be able to provide even greater value to your loved ones. They’re the ones who deserve your full attention.

Just because one can, doesn’t mean one should. Knowing that is the first step, and running everything through a matrix, that helps you decide that, is key.

There are probably a million tools to use here, yet we work so individually that this is one you’re going to have to tweak. I’m visual, so I like visuals. And I’m a fan of post-its.

Draw a dart board or something similar, marking the center as the most important thing in your life. Your family? Your kids? For business, make it a goal. The point here is that you can continue to change what the center represents.

Then write down tasks and opportunities and weigh every single one on how far or close giving it attention will take you compared to the center. Also, weight them against each other as you place them. That’s why I like post-its. They can be moved.

You now have a visual.

This tool can be used for a day, a week, a month, a year…ten years! Snap a photo and save or write it down, so that you can reuse that big circle again if you’ve drawn it on a conference pad or something.

Tip Three

The Eisenhower Matrix

This tool was used by a Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States. He was a general and NATO’s first supreme commander, so the guy knew discipline.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Once you’ve figured out whether something even deserves your attention, run it through here. It’ll weed out the final redundancies to be deleted.

It’s important to not shove every little thing in there, of course. Limit each field to a max of 8 tasks or it’ll become too overwhelming and that leads to procrastination.

In closing

Planning out your day, there’s are many important tasks, less important tasks, and completely redundant tasks. This goes for our personal lives as well as business, so it’s good to make two of these. One for your private life and one for your career (or passion or dream or…), no matter what level you’re at.

Find the time you need to pursue what matters to you. When you feel like you’ve accomplished something valuable to you, you’ll have far more value to offer others.

And remember to play. In fact, schedule that in right now.

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