Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D.
As you settle into the new year, do you sometimes feel like time is getting away from you? I make list after list of what I want to accomplish each day – and often get a large chunk completed - but never seem to get everything done. Now that I make my lists on my PDA, it's easier to just change the date and roll the reminders over to the next day. Yet the sense of satisfaction that I feel when I do finish a project is a great motivator to become more focused so that I can attain more of my goals each day.
While we can't stop the clock, we can learn how to manage our time better this year. Here are some strategies I'm going to put in place myself. Maybe you'd like to try them on for size too:
Resist wasting time. Keep track for a day or two of how much time you carelessly squander. You'll be surprised. While relaxation or socialization is time well spent, most of us also fritter away hours in non-productive ways. Be aware of the choices you are making by default and recognize how you can redirect your attention.
Break down tasks into small, achievable pieces. If a job seems overwhelming, you're more likely to put it off. Instead, when you recognize the distinct steps you need to complete to accomplish your goal, you can begin taking them, one at a time. And remember to reward yourself for each objective you achieve.
Begin, even if you can't finish right away. You may be setting your expectations so high that they stop you from starting a project. Rather than thinking about the final outcome, remind yourself that you'll gain a sense of power by completing whatever you can. It's OK to move towards your target without hitting the bull's-eye each time.
Use exercise to help you focus. The time you spend exercising will actually multiply your effectiveness when you return and pick up the task at hand. You'll be able to concentrate better, achieve your objectives in a shorter period and with greater success.
Prioritize. Let go of tasks that are less important and direct your energies to efforts that truly matter to you. You likely have developed many activities that you want to continue in your free time, but you may need to find a way to choose between them on a daily basis - emailing friends, reading good books, calling out of town family, going for walks outside, trying new recipes, stretching your mind through crossword or number puzzles.
The clock can become your ally when you are better able to balance the choices you make. So here's to a happy, healthy and fulfilling year – I've put that goal on the top of my list.
© 2013, Her Mentor Center
Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are consultants in family dynamics. If you're coping with marital stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law, they have solutions for you. Visit their blog and website, http://www.HerMentorCenter.com, to subscribe to their free newsletter, "Stepping Stones," and download complimentary eBooks, "Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals" and "Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm."