The Power of Time Management
By Stephen Bucaro
If you're like many of us, you're trying to do too much. Maybe you've made too many promises,
have too many commitments, too many duties. Energetic and curious people like you may have
too many interests, start too many projects, have too many things to do.
If you have to work and/or take care of a family, that can take up most of your time. Maybe
you have friends that take up a big part of your time. There's nothing wrong with that, but think
about all the things you have to do. Can you ever possibly finish them all in your lifetime?
What about your "bucket list"? You know, all those things you want to do before you "kick
the bucket" You better do some of those things right now, or it may end up never.
There are two things you need to do to solve your too much to do problem. 1: Set priorities,
and 2: Practice good time management.
Sometimes setting priorities may be the most difficult thing you can do. If you can't
possibly do all the things you must do and choose to do, then you must drop some things.
If you're in the phase of your life where you have to work and raise a family, maybe
you can also go to parties with your friends, participate in sports, take up a craft or enjoy
a hobby. But at the same time can you also get involved in politics or do volunteer work?
Maybe you're in a different phase of life, like retirement, where you have more discretionary
time. But one thing older people know is that time flies. Weeks seem like days, months seem
like weeks, years seem like months. You are still limited by the number of things you can do.
You didn't get a huge list of things to do by accident. Sure some things on your list
you are required to do, like work, family, life maintenance, and personal hygiene. But other
things you chose to do. You chose to do them because you want to do them and because they are
important to you. It will be difficult to choose which ones to give up.
Prioritizing involves making a list and putting the items in the list in order of importance
and desirability to you. To make your list, use a flexible medium like a computer document
or sticky notes. Make entries for things that you are forced to do, like work, running a family,
maintaining the house and car, family activities, personal maintenance and hygiene.
Then add to the list things that are discretionary, like activities with friends, recreational
activities, arts, crafts and hobbies, discretionary shopping, involvement in neighborhood and
political activities, and volunteer work.
Don't rush the list making. You may find it difficult to list everything that takes up
your time. One thing to do is take a walk around your house or apartment. Take a walk around
your garage and yard if you have one. You will probably identify many projects that lie in
Once you've completed your list you may understand that it contains too many activities,
many that you can't complete, or even get to in your life time. It's time to get real and decide
which activities you need to drop.
You might delegate or outsource some tasks, like house and yard chores – but even outsourcing
consumes time, sometimes more time than it takes to do it yourself.
If you can't manage to clean up your list at this point, the next step, time management will help.
Time management involves defining a specific time slot for each activity. When you look
at your list of non-discretionary things, things you must do, like work, family, maintenance
and hygiene, you may realize that you actually have no left-over time to manage.
In most cases time management adjustments can be made in those non-discretionary activities.
Do really need to put in that much time at work? Do you really need to get involved in every
family activity, no mater how trivial? Maybe you can agree with your your family members that
you'll attend weddings and funerals, and visit on specific holidays, but that you just don't
have time to attend every randomly called family get together.
Some people consider friends more important than anything else in life, including their
own family. Spending time with a reliable life-long friend is a good thing, but the quality
of life is not measured by the number of fair-weather friends you have. If you've ever fallen
on hard times you'll know how fast "fiends" can make themselves scarce when they think you'll
need something from them. Are too many friends eating up time that you could be putting towards
the important things you really want or need to do in your life?