The #1 Thing You Must Do to Manage Your Time

One of the leading personal challenges people face is time management. A recent survey I did put this in the top 5 list. We manage our time based on what’s important to us. We are all given the same 24 hours in a day – It’s the one fair disbursement in life. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or don’t have, no one can buy or steal even one more hour in the day.  So why then, do some people seem able to accomplish everything on their to-do list, and others can’t hardly get anything done?

Hopefully you read last week’s post on motivation. If so, you’ll recall that we are motivated by our emotions. One in particular, fear of pain, is an example. We will go to great lengths to avoid pain, but don’t seem as motivated to achieve joy. Such is the human experience. This is an important tidbit when it comes to time management though. We show up to work because of the pain we’d experience if we didn’t. Dirty looks from co-workers, a stern talking-to from the boss, job loss and loss of income are just a few of the “pains” we are trying to avoid.

All told, however, we can be motivated by things that bring us joy.  Take the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars. That was one of the most widely watched TV programs. Those viewers were likely not watching because they were trying to avoid pain. They were likely watching to gain some pleasure.

There is a common thread in both examples – showing up to work and watching a TV show. For most of us, both of those things happen at certain times. If you have to be to work at 8am, you get to work at 8am. If your show starts at 8pm, you show up to watch the show at 8pm.  If someone tries to stop you from either endeavor, say a chatty neighbor, you will probably say (or just think), “I’m going to be late!” and do your best to move them along.

Assuming you already know what it is you want to spend your time on, there is one crucial thing you MUST do to better manage your time – schedule what’s important to you. That’s it. Doing that one thing will make you more productive and more in control of managing your time. I’ll use myself as an example here. In addition to a full-time job, I have my coaching practice, and I’m attending school to complete my degree. With all of these responsibilities I have not had the time to exercise. I have repeatedly told myself (and anyone that would listen) that I just don’t have time for it. As the pounds started to add up, I said as soon as I was done in July, I could get back to a healthy routine. I just didn’t have one moment to spare. And I didn’t…until the “pain” became unbearable. I didn’t like the number on the scale, how I looked or how I felt. Guess who found some time to plan meals for healthier eating and to take time each day for some exercise? Yup, that would be me.

I knew I had to make this a priority in my life, so I began scheduling time to prepare meals one day each week. Seriously, I blocked out a chunk of time each Sunday that was non-negotiable. I began walking at the same times each day to get some physical exercise into my day, and I began tracking my food consumption at every meal. Having these scheduled activities are the only reason I’ve seen success. Authors who are writing books schedule time each day to write; Runners schedule time to run. And the list goes on. Don’t rely on the chance that you’ll have time left over at the end of your day – you likely won’t. And even if you do, are you even going to feel like doing what you need to do then? Probably not.

Now tell me, what one task will you benefit from scheduling into your day? Share in the comments.

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  1. April ,
    It is powerful how this is in conjunction with
    Last week, awesome! Just wanted to let you
    Know that what I learned last week about
    Scheduling tasks early was a great tip. Today
    I like the part of scheduling a ( blocked time)
    Thanks so much, what a wonderful idea you
    Rock! Definately going to be doing this now.

    • Joe, I am THRILLED that you are finding such value in these topics and will be taking action on them! I know you will benefit once you find the routine that works best for you. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Tara Fitzgerald Blondin says:

    Hi April! I couldn’t agree with you more. When I was at my best; working out 5 days a week and eating healthy, I felt better and slept better which seemed to really allow for more time in my day. I could keep going all day and when it was time for bed, I even took about an hour before to just unwind and watch tv. And, I mean, I would actually go to bed and not fall asleep on the couch. But as you mention, I had to schedule these things. But then I fell out of this routine and gained weight, I feel crappy, I’m tired more often, sleep is not so good and just feel defeated. I’ve been having a really hard time getting back into a routine. I kind of forgot about how I use to just schedule the time. Your post reminded me of this seemingly small step but it’s huge. I’m feeling the pain these days and have just recently started to get back to my routines…hoping to step it up a notch and seriously just carve out the time in my day for it, no excuses. Thank you for your post and reminding me to JUST SCHEDULE TIME for myself!! Love your blogs, thanks for sharing!

    • Tara, I am so glad this was a good reminder for you, but I’m THRILLED that you already know it to be true! You’ve done it before and you will do it again. I can hear the determination in your words. I’m sorry you’re feeling the pain was so happy you are using it as motivation. ROCK ON GIRL!!!

  3. That’s an absolutely amazing post. 🙂 You are very right April. A schedule is so important and can change your life. I love it. 🙂

  4. Sally Romano Doyle says:

    I never restrict my time to clean the house and so it doesn’t get done.

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