With my kids off on holiday it’s been a fine line between being available to chat, play Monopoly, go shopping, beat them at bowling and working.
It’s the same for most working parents but it made me think about how I use my time.
With mounting to-do lists, big projects with short delivery dates, consuming workloads, growing obligations and festering unfinished tasks, it’s no wonder in this what-have-you-done-for-me-today world we often feel time deprived.
I am very passionate and enthusiastic about my work and because I love it so much it doesn’t feel like work but there is also a down side to that in that I don’t know when to stop, close the door and switch off and I also expect everyone to feel the same about my work – which is just plain barmy of me really.
Work-life flows into home-life, and balance becomes imbalance, and goals and dreams get relegated to “maybe another day” shelf.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In a recent “Winning at Working” reader survey, the most common work problem was related to time. Overwhelmed. Overworked. Overstressed. Too much to do and too little time to do it. But here’s the reality. No matter how much we do, we will never get everything done. There isn’t enough time for all that needs doing, all we want to do or we’d like to do or we should do. There never will be, even with the most sophisticated productivity, organisational and time-management approaches. Of course, they’re helpful, but thinking the chaos and stress in life is caused by not having enough time is a big mistake.
You see, the problem is not a time problem. We all have the same amount. It’s a choice problem. The choices you make determine whether you’re running your life, or your life is running you. And you do have choices. Naturally there may be consequences to saying no, establishing boundaries or reordering priorities but there are also consequences if you don’t.
All tasks are not equal. All commitments are not equal. All responsibilities are not equal. All clients are not equal. All people of personal importance to your life are not equal. Yet many of us operate as if they were. You can do fifty things today and get little, if any, result for having done them. Or you can do one or two that bring a big return, be it emotional, financial, physical or psychological. People who are winning at working know the difference and operate accordingly.
They see time as life’s currency and how it’s used as a choice. Choices shape your results and your life. You get the same twenty-four hours each day as your co-worker sitting next to you. But use differs. Practice the piano eight hours a day and you’ll be better than people who don’t. Practice and hone your workplace talents and the same applies. Or spend time getting ready to work, stopping to chat, surfing the web, fiddling with your emails and you’ll complete the day having traded your time for minimal results.
How you spend your time puts value on what you’re spending it on. Many people never have “time” to exercise consistently until a health issue causes them to re-prioritize their choices. Funny how they manage to find the hours when they have to isn’t it?
Choosing to eliminate an hour of television a day could create 365 “found” hours a year. That’s nine weeks! People who are winning at working know this secret: because there is always time for what matters to them. So, they allocate their time carefully, understanding their life as a reflection of their choices. They make time for the people they love, the passions they have and work that uses their uniqueness.
They focus on the results, goals, and life-dreams they desire, rather than accepting what comes their way. They do, while others talk of doing. They plan their day, while others let their day plan them. They motivate themselves, while others wait for someone or something to motivate them. For people who are winning at working, it’s not about the time they have; it’s about the choices they make in how to use it.
So what could you do differently today to take control of your time?
Sue Atkins is a Parent Coach and Author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the famous black and yellow series. She has written many books on self esteem, toddlers and teenagers and has a collection of Confident Parent CD’s available from her website. To find out more about her work and to receive her free monthly newsletter packed full of practical tips and helpful advice for bringing up happy, confident, well-balance children go to => http:/www.positive-parents.com
Jackie Groundsell is known as the queen of women's business networking lunches - the Connector. She supports thousands of small business owners through her events and lunch-time meetings