Last time I wrote a blog, I had more time than I knew what to do with. I took standard classes in an international setting where there wasn’t too much demand on my time. Fast forwarding a few years, here I am with a full time job that demands almost all of my time and a full time MBA program just launching. I have a wonderful fiance and hobbies that keep me in shape and sharp. The funny thing is, the 24 hours/day I had in college are the same 24 hours/day I have now.
So how am I able to accomplish more with the same time? I think we all have felt this feeling before and the answer is simple: we prioritize our time naturally. What can happen, however, is we gravitate to what we perceive to be the right things. When you start to look at your growing task list, you scream “I can’t possibly get all this done!” Let’s look at this so called “part of growing up” in more detail.
My recent investment in grad school is not just a financial one but also a time based one. As we all know, time is the only currency we can’t make more of. Being an analytical person (thanks engineering), I wanted to approach this problem with a framework. I started by breaking down my time into larger categories of what I spend my time on.
Think “work”, “writing”, “family”, “hobby 1”, etc. and number each category from 1 to 5 (or more if needed). Now carefully think about how long you spend on each thing each day. Finally, rank each category in descending order based on priorities in your life (use letters to not confuse them with the numbers). Add up the time you spend on A, B and then C, D, E. Step back and go “oh crap, I spend my time on the wrong things.” Revelation! Now what?
I did this and was amazed I spent 2:30 hours on my top 3 and 14:30 hours on my bottom 3 (I did 6 items). WOW. Time for a re-adjustment! The next step is determining how to salvage your time. I am currently rethinking my work schedule, reducing meetings, saying no to checking email and performing a number of other tasks to ensure my A, B, and C categories get more of my time. Of course you can’t put 100% of your time into those top three since there are constraints holding you back, but you can at least try your hardest. Learn to readjust more frequently and always be aware of wasting your time. Don’t get too crazy though, you have to enjoy your time too. After all, if time is money, then invest and spend wisely :).
HBR Article on Measuring Time (not the full thing, but dig for the real one)
Four Hour Workweek on Time Wasters (oldie but goodie)
Actions (10 min)
Write down your time “categories”
Figure out time commitments and prioritize.
Re-adjust and live better!