It’s been about seven months since I started my free time management Facebook group, Time Tips, and the biggest eye-opener to me is that people really don’t have a problem with time management.
What the real problem is: Goal management.
To begin, you need to start at the end. So figure out this first: Where do you want to go? What is your ultimate goal? Write it down and make it SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. A goal without a deadline is just a dream. It might come true, but more than likely, it will simply fade away.
What does a SMART goal look like? How about this: To have $1,000 put aside by the end of the year, four months from now, so you can take that cruise you’ve always dreamed of.
Oh my God! That’s a HUGE sum of money! In only four months??? That’s insane! You could never do it!
Really? Check your thinking.
Break the bigs into the littles. How much money would you need to save every week, every day, in order to achieve your goal? Or, conversely, how much extra money you would need to bring in to get there, or maybe some combination of the two?
If you break the big $1,000 into littles, how much extra you would need to earn/save comes down to $8.92 a day. Doesn’t sound nearly so overwhelming, does it? That’s not even two small cups of Starbucks a day!
What else could you do? You could work a longer day (if you’re a wage earner) or sell an extra widget (if you own your own business). You could turn up the thermostat on your AC for the rest of the summer and keep your house colder in the winter. You could take a sandwich in for lunch instead of spending $20 at your favorite diner. Really, the possibilities are endless.
By breaking the bigs into littles, you’ve also (almost automatically) set up intermediate goals for yourself that are also SMART. You know what you’ve got to do every day, and what gets you through your latte withdrawal is knowing that in just a few short months, you’ll have enough extra jingle in your pocket to enjoy that fabulous Caribbean cruise you’ve always wanted.
SMART goals for time management
Let’s apply the same principles to time management.
The first thing to understand is that time management is a merely a tool to give you what you want most. To spend more time with your kids. To enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle. To feel secure in your retirement. It’s all about the emotional pay-off, and checking off your to-do list is merely your road map to get to that feeling.
If you are like every other human being on the planet, you will find yourself dealing with distractions (family members, ringing phones, demanding pets, etc.), procrastination (surfing the web, cleaning the house, playing computer games) and so on. The same principles of creating SMART goals apply here, too. (For details on how to create SMART goals for time management, click here.)
And the foundation of all this work — setting SMART goals, breaking bigs into littles, avoiding time-stealers — is this: That your wants, needs and desires are important. That you deserve to have extra money, more free time, less stress, better relationships and so on. You’re worth it.