If you are like many people, you are juggling a lot of things: your career or school, creative and personal development activities, your relationships, your health and wellness-not to mention having some fun once in a while! And when you have a lot to do, it is often hard to know what to do first. Moreover, if you spend most of your time in one area like your career or school, you may be feeling out of balance and resenting the fact that that you do not have time for anything else. You start to view time as your enemy and you find that your energy is sapped and your feel even more out of control. The key to getting yourself out of this cycle is to change your relationship to time and learn how to manage yourself around time.
First of all, let’s remember what priorities are: short-term goals. These are the things that you want to accomplish in any given period of time. The more your goals represent your values, strengths and passions, the more likely you are to achieve them. The same thing goes for your priorities. A lot of people are stuck with to-do lists that have a lot of “shoulds” rather than their choices. Why not recreate your to-do list and have it reflect the things that represent your authentic choices?
In order to begin to manage time in a way that makes you feel in control, you can reset your priorities by following these three steps:
1. Be aware of how you are currently spending your time
The first step to changing your relationship to time is to assess how to spend your time. Write down all the things that you do. How much time do you spend in each area? The way you spend your time is a statement of what your priorities are.
2. Assess how satisfied you are with the way you are spending your time
Next, think about the most important areas of your life (e.g., career, relationships, personal development, finances, health, fun, service etc).
• Rate each area in terms of how important it is to you. Use a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “not important” and 10 being “vitally important.
• Now rate how well are you living each of these areas. How satisfied are you with the amount of time that you spend on this area? Rate this on a scale of 1-10.
Look back at those areas that you rated as very important (8, 9 or 10). If there is a gap of 2 or more points between how important an area is and your satisfaction rating, chances are that you are feeling a lack of balance because there is a gap between what is important to you and what you are actually doing.
3. Set new priorities to start doing more of the important things in your life
The third step to reordering your priorities is to figure out what important activities are missing from your life. As you review each question, write down the activities that come to mind.
1. What is the most important thing in my life right now?
2. Where would I want to spend more time?
3. Where would I want to spend less time?
4. What areas need my attention now (e.g., school, talent, health, relationship)?
Write down your activities in the order that feels most important to you. This is your new list of priorities.
Remember that your priorities can change in any given period of time. If there is something important on your list that you do not have time for right now, think about when you can slot that in. It’s another way to take charge of time and feel in control.
Enjoy your new list of priorities!
(C) Astrid Baumgardner 2010
I would be delighted if you should wish to reprint (for free) any part of this article in your newsletters, blogs, websites, and message boards. Please include the following attribution:
Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success. In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and Personal Branding and Networking. She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.