We cannot stop time, create time, or control time.
But we all can effectively manage our priorities.
Time management is a myth. Can’t be done. I can manage my finances (spend less, earn more). I can manage my weight (eat less, exercise more). I can even manage my stress level (rant less, breathe more). But I can’t manage time. I cannot get more of it. I cannot save some from this week and place it toward next week. Nope, I can’t. Like you, I have 168 hours in every week. I can’t rearrange them.
What I can do is manage my priorities. That is something we all can do. Those little choices we make each day are a window to our priorities. [Image by Naypong/Free DigitalPhotos.net]
My students complete an activity titled “Where Does Your Week Go?” It is a simple listing of what they do each day for a week. They then rank each activity from “not necessary” to “extremely necessary.”
“Necessary” in this context means “does the stuff you fill your life with connect to your priorities?” In short, does the “stuff you do” get you closer to what you say are your goals? Doing a lot of stuff is NOT the same as doing the right stuff.
Another way to look at this is to determine whether your activities are negotiable or non-negotiable. For a single parent the care of his/her child is non-negotiable. Likewise, your physical health is non-negotiable. Three hours spent on social media each day falls, more than likely, in the negotiable category. Look at your list of activities for a week. Are they negotiable or non-negotiable? Are you doing the right things or are you just doing stuff?
Video recommendation for the week:
The video below provides a memorable visual about what happens when we get sidetracked in life and fill our days with the small stuff—the negotiable items.
A note about the video. It is in three parts: (1) the set up; (2) the problem; and (3) the conclusion and lesson. Listen to the great observations and thoughts from the folks participating in this video with me. Classroom teachers who may be reading this blog: Consider this as one way to introduce and/or reinforce the concept of priority management to your students. You could actually show it in three segments; pause the video after each segment; have the students write a reflection; then conclude with a group discussion. Have fun with it!
Your Homework. A money budget can help you determine where your money comes from and where it goes. It can be a tedious process—but it is a necessary exercise for building wealth. The same with a time budget. Keeping track of everything you do for 168 hours can provide interesting insights about how you actually use your time. So, for the next 7 days, keep a log of how your time is used. Record your sleep, your meals, your social media use, exercise, and time spent with your kids, spouse, and friends. Don’t forget your transportation time to and from work or school; even brushing your teeth. Record everything. And remember, the total number of hours MUST add up to 168 hours. Once you have completed the log, judge the nature of each hour in your week on a scale from 1 (not necessary) to 5 (extremely necessary). And then answer for yourself: Am I doing the right things or am I just doing stuff?
Best wishes this week as you focus on your necessary (non-negotiable) priorities, minimize the unnecessary (negotiable) activities, and activate positive new habits!
For more information on priority management, see my new book Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? 3rd edition (Pearson Education). Please visit my website (www.stevepiscitelli.com), contact me at email@example.com, or visit Pearson Education, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!
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© 2012. Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog.