2.25.2008

Time Management Tips

My friend keeps trying to goad me into writing a book about time management.  I protest that I barely have enough content for one post, let alone a full-length book.  Plus, I firmly believe that what works for me is almost certainly not going to work for someone else; you have to find a system that's right for you.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of serving the general public, here are five things that can help you make the most of your time:

1.  Take care of yourself first.  It may sound selfish, but it's the only way I've found I can be out there for others throughout the day, is to do the things I need to do for myself to feel happy and healthy.  For me, that means three things: 1) praying to God and reading the Bible, 2) exercise, and 3) quiet, uninterrupted time to read, organize my schedule, and otherwise get myself in a right mind for the day ahead.  These three things take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours each day, and my kids are usually up by 6ish, so I shoot to be up by 4 every morning.  It may seem insanely early, but it's what I need to do to be at my best for the rest of the day.  Which leads to . . .

2.  Go to bed early.  Ben Franklin had it right here.  I try to avoid TV, computer, and stress after 8 pm.  For the last few months, my daughter hasn't gotten the memo, so I've been wound up more often than I've been able to wind down.  But I don't need to make it worse by poking around the Internet or tackling strenuous household tasks right before bedtime, so some of this actually is within my control.  On that note . . .

3.  Cut out the unnecessary stuff.  There's a whole slew of things I was into barely five years ago - TV, movies, music - that are almost completely gone from my life.  And I haven't really missed them.  Even sports has been winnowed down to five or six minutes of web surfing a day, or fast forwarding through two football games in less than an hour while I'm on the treadmill Monday morning.  Of course, kids are the main reason for needing to excise all of this entertainment time out of my weekly schedule.  Speaking of which . . .

4.  Bring the kids along.  My friends know that when they see me, my kids are part of the package.  Staying in touch with people is very, very important to me; and thanks to memberships to the zoo and aquarium (which, by the way, are very affordable, when you consider how often we go), I can give my wife some alone time, catch up with friends, and let my kids get some run-around time all at once.

5. Say no.  Of course, even better than efficiently getting 73 things done every week is figuring out that you don't have to do all 73 things.  Easier said than done, and probably the thing I'm worst at out of these five tips.  But I'm getting better at turning things down, and learning life goes on without me, and enjoying the extra time that's freed up as a result.
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