WELCOME TO STRIKETHROUGH TO BREAKTHROUGH. This short, fun series will offer you inspiration and practical tips on how to get more out of your hours. I can almost guarantee that you’ll be able to do so much more in your waking hours that you will find more time to sleep! I say “almost” because you have a part to play, so your progress is dependent on you.
Each blog post will offer short exercises in YOUR TURN that will prompt you to examine your current use of time and to consider how you may use time differently. And at the end of the series you should be able to have a plan for managing your time wisely.
STRIKETHROUGH TO BREAKTHROUGH #1
A voice interrupted the blissful oblivion of jotting my to-do list on a scrap of paper. “Won’t you lose that scrap?” My mentor’s tone suggested that I would, or so I interpreted it. Why, for years I had scribbled my little lists on snatches of white. Once I completed the items, I crossed them out. Strikethrough. Each line drawn was a breakthrough bringing me closer to completing what I had to do: deadlines, in progress work, life requirements. What was not finished I added to the next day’s list. My system worked and the things I had to do were accomplished on time.
I huffed, but did not puff at my mentor’s suggestion. Me, a university student, she, staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. She was concerned that I might lose my loose lists and miss a to-do. I, on the other hand, had faith in my system. That evening, she handed me a new diary. I regretted that I had huffed, rejoiced that I had not puffed, and thanked her for the gift of my first official planner. This enhancement to my time management toolkit would aid in work and play and in the stringent business of writing. Now my lists can be in one place, and dated!
A planner, however, is but a minimal tool in the overall theme of time management. There are tons of factors that vie for our attention and these must be considered seriously if time is to be used effectively. Things such as overloaded schedules, for example, might result from taking on too much. Too many deadlines falling at the same time may be a result of improper planning. Some people may be procrastinators and find themselves in chronic crisis mode. Failing to manage distractions also erode good use of time. Multi-tasking sounds impressive but if it makes for reworks or poor quality work, it is simply more effective to focus on one task and to do it well.
At various times in my life I’ve found myself making unwise decisions such as I’ve listed above, but I learned early that I needed to counter each of these time-stealers if I were to be successful. I’ll admit I’m good at organizing and I see the big picture, and this aptitude helps me prioritize. However, even if I did not possess the inner mobilization, I could learn how to do things. A key foundation in time management is that you can learn how to manage time. The good thing about learning is that you can do it. For example, I learned to drive a car by following the rules, by using reflexes, by practising, by being tested. I learned to make a pie by measuring as the recipe asked, mixing them all together, and baking at the required temperature for the allotted time. I was not born with those skills. So don’t worry that you don’t have built-in skills for managing time, you’ll be equipped by the time we are finished. And I know you are more resilient and capable than you give yourself credit for.
1. What THREE things you have accomplished successfully that you did not think you could have accomplished? What were the challenges? How did you overcome them? Reflect on these and be motivated that you can make similar successful strides towards effective time management.
2. Zig Ziglar famously said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” Track how you spend today.
(Vent at Zig if this is untrue of your day- he passed away recently so no harm there. [Do smile.] Remember, too, that you have a unique learning style, so when tracking, write it down, draw a picture, create some lyrics, use colours, etc.)
COMING UP ON THURSDAY, MAY 7 – Urgent or Important? Find out how my cat influences my time management.
(Photos courtesy Free Digital Photos.)
SUSAN HARRIS is the author of six books and her work has appeared in several publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Testimony magazine. Her books are published by Borealis Press and White Lily Press of Canada.