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5 Questions to Master Your Own Use of Time

Dr. Jan Yager is a sociologist and author who got interested in time management the “hard way.” 

At age 20, she thought life goes on forever until one dies of old age.  And then her 23 year old brother died from injuries sustained from an attempted robbery.

She became an expert on time management.  Dr. Yager has been the author of six books on this subject. 

Put More Time on Your Side is a summation of her previous five books plus fresh insights about time management in your 24/7mobile device-connected world.

Below are three ideas you can use:

                                1.0 Make Time Management a Conscious Activity.

Much of our time is spent on routine and responding to the urgent needs of others.

You could easily loose yourself.

Take time to focus on how you are spending time.  Improvement will be more likely if you focus. 

Dr. Yager writes, “If you really want to get ahead, you need to learn how to carve out time every day for your own priorities.  It is the priorities you set for yourself and that you finish that will make all the difference….”  

Anton Chekov had a busy life as a physician and father, yet he made the necessary time to write the plays that would eventually be his legacy.

Focus on these five questions every day:

1.       What do I want to accomplish at work in the next 12 months?

2.       What do I want to achieve in my personal life in the next 12 months?

3.       What relationships do I value the most that I want to put time into?

4.       What is my purpose here on earth?

5.       What legacy do I want to leave behind?

We recommend you ask these five questions of yourself in bed just before you fall asleep.  Ask the same five questions in the morning just before you get out of bed.  You probably won’t change your answers every day.  The five questions become key  daily affirmations.  Are you spending your time advancing these affirmations?

                                2.0  I Don’t Have Enough Time!

Dr. Yager recommends placing a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.  Take time to mediate, daydream, think, etc.  Your day may involve getting lots of little tasks done.  You still need to ask yourself Dr. Yager’s five questions every day.

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Stuck in a cubicle?  Take a walk outside the building.  Try to leave your mobile device on the desk.  Does the weather make it impossible to go outside?  Try quietly sitting in your car without your phone and focus on the five questions.  Give yourself permission to daydream.

At home with children?  We love the late Brandeis University psychologist Abraham Maslow’s idea of having a special cap you wear only when you want to be alone.  Instruct your children to pretend you are invisible whenever they see you wearing that cap.   Use the "cap of invisibility" if you have to do work at home and the children are physically nearby.

Dr. Yager recommends that you stop complaining that you don’t have enough time. You have 6-10 hours most days to focus on work.  Ask yourself, “In the 6-10 hours I have today, how am I doing against MY top priorities?”

                                               3.0 E-mails

Most of us are addicted to checking e-mail first thing in the morning.  Dr. Yager’s recommendation: stop it!

Focus on the priorities you articulated in the five questions raised earlier.  Focus on making a dent in one key priority first thing in the morning.  Work on that priority before checking e-mails.  You know that you will get side tracked once you open your e-mail.  You will feel better having accomplished one key priority before that happens.

One of this blog’s authors (Larry Stybel) is more creative in the morning than he is in the afternoon.  For the first thing he does in the morning, he focuses on doing the most creative high priority task of the day.   Only when he is finished does he check e-mail.

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Try to check e-mails as infrequently as you dare. 

Spend time on the composition of the e-mail subject line.  If possible, include a time element in the subject line to help the reader prioritize your e-mail.  For example, “12 noon tomorrow deadline from Chicago Tribune reporter” is stronger than “Reporter media request.”  People read e-mail headlines and triage them.  And one of the basis of triage is time sensitivity.

We find The Huffington Post an endless creative resource for how to write eye-catching e-mail subject lines.    You do not have to agree with the Liberal slant of the stories.  Focus on the headlines.    

Be courteous and let the writer know that the e-mail was received but slow down the pace with which you promise to respond.  Dr. Yager recommends doing this with a standard sentence that you keep on file.  Copy/paste:  “Thanks for your e-mail.  I’ll respond as soon as time permits.”

For important and complicated e-mails, Dr. Yager recommends that you compose your e-mail first in a word processing program.  Cut and paste it into an e-mail only after you have used the program to edit and spell check the letter.

        "I Don't Have Enough Time to Read a Book About Time Management."

That’s just a sample of some of the practical and thoughtful ideas in Dr. Yager’s book.  There is a useful appendix containing sample daily time logs.

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Do feel that you lack time to read a book on time management?

Perhaps you have enough time to read this observation by poet Carl Sandburg:

“Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.

“Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” 

                                        References:

Yager, J (2017). Put More Time on Your Side: how to manage your life in a digital world. Sound Wisdom.

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Larry Stybel, Ed.D. and Maryanne Peabody, MBA founded Stybel Peabody Associations, Inc., which helps companies reduce risk. Dr. Stybel is also a featured expert within H Speakers. For information on hiring Dr. Stybel for your next event, please contact Sandra St. Onge.

Kirsten SingletonComment