Time is an essential concept over which we have no control. Too often, we occupy our time being “busy” and still end each day with full to-do lists. Personally, I find that certain tasks stay on my to-do list no matter how badly I want to get them off. In reflection, I can identify patterns and mindsets that lead to avoidance of certain goals. Today, I want to unpack how we manage our time in ways that address or avoid the items we say we want to get done.
What do you prioritize?
On my busiest days (which seems like every day), I usually have a written (or typed) list of everything I want to accomplish to stay focused. One way I’ve recently learned to optimize my list is by prioritizing tasks.
While listening to the Blessed and Bossed Up podcast, the show’s guest, Taylor Gordon, explained how she sets up her tasks-list each week. She recommended putting the time-consuming or hard tasks early in the day or at the beginning of the week; that way as time passes, we are left with items that don’t require the majority of our energy. I haven’t always done this which explains why my book and poetry writing never get crossed off my daily to-do lists. I save them for the end and I’m always too drained to work on them. We need to tackle difficult items when we have an abundance of energy and focus.
How do you maximize your peak hours?
Knowing when our energy and focus are at their peak is critical. Most of my parenting friends maximize their time at night once the kids are sleep. I, on the other hand, am a morning person. Knowing this about myself, I’ve found ways to boost my productivity in the morning.
Everyone has a morning routine. This may consist of checking your phone, using the bathroom, praying or exercising. No matter the routine, we have the ability to adjust it if necessary. When I realized that I developed an addiction to my phone, I stopped checking it first thing in the morning. Instead, I spend my mornings reading devotions, in prayer, or listening to a podcast. This simple switch enhances the energy with which I approach the day and keeps me grounded to face life's daily struggles.
Where do you set boundaries?
Boundary setting is necessary for success and longevity. We need to set clear parameters about when and how we will set aside the time to accomplish tasks. If we know we want to workout in the morning, we have to be firm about getting to bed the night before. In this instance, we hold ourselves accountable by sticking to the boundary (bedtime).
Boundaries also help us reserve time for self-care and strengthening relationships. No matter how badly we want to get it all done, we have to set limits for ourselves. (I have to remind myself of this often.) Establishing cut off times for work allows us to be refreshed for the next day and creates space for those who matter. We damage our progress and relationships by trudging through without taking time for rejuvenation and relaxation.
Time is too precious for us to not be intentional about how we spend it. We have to identify and change ineffective patterns and create the space to balance work and living. We can’t be whole if we don’t protect ourselves, and we won’t be productive if we keep avoiding the difficult tasks. As we enter the second quarter of the year, assess how you're spending your time.