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Time is Valuable: Juggle it wisely.

Most of us lead very busy lives, dealing with our practical needs, our work responsibilities and the requests of others.  We get lots done, but often find that our priorities; the things we need to do for our own life balance and enjoyment, go by the wayside. And if we don’t look after ourselves, in time we become depleted and have less to offer others.


Here are some ideas we like for gently taking more control, to make your time work better for you. For major people-pleasers who find it almost impossible to say “No”, these can be useful self-preservation techniques:


Consider the different roles you play in life, and allocate an appropriate amount of time to each. Parent, worker, partner, friend, volunteer, dog-walker, exerciser. Each week or month, allocate time for each of your roles, and save some just for you. Reviewing those roles and how much time you spend on each, brings clarity. Reflecting on how much time you want to devote to each role enables you to create a balance that suits you better. You can even colour code them, so that you will notice more easily if one aspect of your life is taking up more than its fair share of your time.


If you have, say, one-on-one time allocated with your teen, and someone calls to ask a quick favour, you can honestly say have an appointment scheduled. If something really important comes up, ask your teen to reschedule. This helps enable easier boundaries, and lets your teen know you value time with them.


Schedule things for the times that work best for you: For example, some of us enjoy exercise more in the morning, others after work. “Me” time is entirely up to you! It’s good to have that time set aside: an appointment with yourself!


Categorise your tasks: Tasks that need to be done tend to fall into 4 categories, depending on their levels of urgency and importance.  

  • Urgent and important - done first

  • Urgent but not important - usually done second

  • Important but not urgent - often put off, sometimes too long for comfort! It is helpful to set time for these

  • Not important and not urgent - the category says it all. If it’s fun, schedule it in, or you may never get round to it!

This framework can be useful in setting up your priority list.


Reflect on the tasks you really want to complete by the end of each week. This helps keep those of us who are easily distracted on track, and provides a sense of accomplishment. 


Eat the “frogs” first: Mark Twain’s advice still holds true: “If it is your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first”. This lifts a weight off your shoulders so the rest of the day is easier and more pleasant.


Def it out, if that is best: To “def something out” is to actively choose to stop doing it, because it is no longer the best use of your time or has just become boring! Things change. Don’t be afraid to say: “It’s fallen off the bottom of my priority list”. Deffing something out makes ceasing to do something a positive choice, rather than a failure to finish. Try it: it can feel really empowering! 


Handle each piece of paper only once: action it then and there, rather than putting it in a pile to revisit later. This is especially important for things with deadlines, such as paying bills!


These techniques can be helpful for different people at different times. Share and discuss these strategies with your friends: they may have their own time management wisdom to share!

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