Target Your Time

Target Your Time

One of my favorite sayings is, “We can’t manage time. We can only manage ourselves.” Yet we keep trying to organize our time as though we can slow it down and get more out of a day than is actually possible. Before we can make changes in how we spend our time, we need to know exactly how we currently use it.

One way to get a clear, visual perspective on our time, is to use the Target Worksheet linked here.

Fill in each target’s ring with all the things that make up your life such as activities, habits, relationships, or events that you do each day, week, month, or year. What are the things you do regularly. Who are the people in your life and how often do you interact with them. Try to be as detailed as possible. Think of everything that influences and is part of your life.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:    work, walk dog, yoga, gym, coffee, ice cream, meditate, journal, read, hike, bike ride, drink, go to movies, go on a date, music, dinner out, shopping, clean, email, social media, travel, vacation, cook, craft, paint, watch tv, children, family, friends, jog, nails

Next, evaluate. Are some of your daily habits needing to be reduced to weekly or monthly? Maybe you go to the gym weekly but want to make this a daily habit? Draw arrows to indicate how you would like to spend your time for each item you listed. This activity visually represents how you spend your time and can offer some invaluable insight. The target will help you to prioritize your time by showing you the areas that need changing.

It’s time to make some changes. Think about your priorities and make your “target” reflect your personal values. Think of the target as sort of a budget for your time.

Begin with your relationships. Are the people in your life in the correct ring on the target? Do you need to spend more time or less time with each one? How can you do that? Perhaps, you might give up a “girl’s night” in order to have a “date night.”

Now, look at your indulgences and habits. Is a daily Starbucks helping you reach your financial plans? How much time is spent watching tv? Would you prefer to spend that time on something else?

Continue with the rest of your listed items. You can process your choices by journaling or talking with a friend. Take some time to ponder your target worksheet.
Make your changes slowly, one small step each week until you are spending your time the way you want.

The hardest part of this exercise is eliminating things we enjoy doing, to make room for those things that are beneficial for us (like exercising). We all have the same amount of time, just 24 hours a day. When we learn to manage ourselves, we will be able to use our 24 hours in a way that is best for us.

I would love to hear if this exercise helped you as much as it helped me!

Featured photo by Ocean Ng on Unsplash.

Time to Declutter

Time to Declutter

Life is messy and life is busy! There is no way to make the whirlwind stop so what can we do? When things are getting out of control, it is time to hit a mental pause button, take a deep breath, and declutter.

Begin by making a tea or coffee and gather some paper and a pen. Find a comfortable spot and give yourself a moment to clear your head. Think about what is making your life feel so chaotic. For me, it usually is either my surroundings are out of sorts or it is that my schedule is overwhelming or maybe both. No matter what the exact cause of this out-of-control feeling, begin by writing down all the things that are causing you to experience stress.

This process, as simple as it sounds, is very effective. It is amazing how 20 minutes of quiet thinking or planning can calm your life down and help you to feel like you are back in the driver’s seat instead of being driven. The objective is to remove all the clutter, the stress, in your head and put it on paper. This mental unloading declutters your head, your mind, and your thoughts. And instead of these thoughts churning around in your mind, you can look at them visually on paper.

Now that the clutter in your mind is removed, you can take the next step, which is to remove the clutter in your living space.

This does not mean doing an intensive reorganization of every area in your home. This is a general declutter, so you have a place that is calming and relaxing. Even the most organized homes need to be picked up regularly. We may have a special place for all our things, but as we rush through a day, items get tucked here and there. Eventually, we have stuff all over the place and it may feel a little stressful. It is time to put everything back in its original place. When our possessions are messy, our lives can also begin to feel cluttered, but if our environments are orderly, then we feel more in control.

The task of picking up can be tedious and mentally draining so I race against the clock to finish this as quickly as possible. I go from room to room, picking up and putting everything where it belongs. I don’t allow myself to linger and ponder over items. Just put them back where they go. If you don’t know where something goes, then you will need to designate a space for that item. Once this step is done, you will begin to feel better already, but don’t stop yet.

We have emptied our minds, picked up our living space, and now we need to take charge of our schedules. For this step, gather all the items that you use to organize your tasks, appointments, and schedule. If you have more than one calendar, such as on your phone, in your planner, or maybe a physical calendar on the refrigerator, update them and make sure they all contain all your commitments. It is a good idea to have one day a week to keep your calendars updated so you do not miss an appointment or event.

Our schedules can become just as cluttered as our minds and our living spaces. The clutter is harder to spot when it involves our time and things we want to do. Too many tasks, appointments, or lunch dates in our schedule can be mentally draining, even if you like doing all of them. Look at your commitments and your schedule. Ask yourself if you are spending your time according to your values. Is your schedule a reflection of your priorities? Is there anything you can eliminate? Do you need to rearrange, cancel, or add activities?

Decluttering your calendar might mean letting go of a few things you really enjoy, but then you are free to add things you like even better. For example, you may enjoy having lunch dates with friends, but then not have time to go to the gym. Staying healthy may be one of your values and a priority for you. If you do not have time for the gym, you will feel stressed and possibly, not know why. Simplify your calendar as much as you can. You will be able to breathe a little easier.

Phew!! All done. Your mind is clear. Your living space is picked up. Your calendar has been simplified. Enjoy being back in the driver’s seat. Take a moment to relax!

Now for the last step. (I know you thought you were done, but if we do not do this last step, the clutter might reappear!)

Remember the first step of decluttering your mind? Now is the time to look at what you wrote on your paper. With a clear head, it is now possible to tackle these items. Maybe they are things you need to do, phone calls you need to make, or issues you need to address.

If any item you listed can be done immediately, then do it right now. The rest will need a place on your calendar. Find a time slot in your schedule and write down what you need to do. Eliminate anything that you can let go.

NOW you are done! You are back in the driver’s seat of your life. You get to choose what will fill up your mind, your space, and your time. As each new activity, item, or demand comes your way, think carefully if you want to let it in.

Life is messy and life is busy. You most likely will lose control again, as we all do. That’s okay. We just have to declutter every once in awhile!

Featured photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash.

Dare I Say the “G” Word?

Dare I Say the “G” Word?

Anytime I start something new, I like to think about what I want from that new beginning. If I enter a new season, for example, I make a list of all the things I want to do that I can only do that season . . . pumpkin carving, spice pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins. When I move into a new home, I carefully organize each room and closet. It gives me a chance to reduce clutter and bring out favorite treasures while I decorate. When I begin a new year, I decide what I am going to accomplish and what I will spend my time on that year.

This year is the perfect opportunity to take control of your life and decide how you will spend the days to come. It is after all, the beginning of a new decade!

Now, brace yourself. I am about to say the “G” word —–> Goals!

This year is the beginning of a new decade and the chance to make your one, three, five, and ten-year goals. But first, let’s look at that word “goals” because once you break it down, it isn’t such a scary word.

  • When a person thinks about what they want to do – that is a dream.
  • When a dream is broken into steps – it becomes a task or tasks.
  • When a deadline (or due date) is attached to a task – it becomes a goal.

So, in reality, a goal is just an intentional task with a deadline.

Here is a great example of the difference between a dream and a goal. Let’s say you want to buy a house. The dream is to own your own home. As long as you keep saying to yourself and your friends that you want to buy a house, it remains a dream.

This dream becomes a task or series of tasks when you break that dream into steps. These steps may include things like:  set up a savings account, meet with a financial person about getting a loan, looking at where you would like to live, cutting things out of your budget, etc. At this point you are moving in the direction of buying your house. Too many people stop here though. These tasks could stay on your to-do list for a very long time.

The most difficult step is assigning a deadline to these tasks which is what turns them into goals. Having a deadline may feel like a commitment or a ball and chain, but it is also what will push you to make your dream a reality. How badly do you want that dream?

(You are not alone in your feelings of nervousness, extra perspiration, or jittery bugs. I confess that I am talking to myself right now as well!)

Buying a house is an example of a long-term goal. It is something that we can’t accomplish within a month. Our daily to-do lists are examples of short-term goals. It is important to have both long-term and short-term goals. (More on that later.)

This year, the beginning of a new decade, is the perfect time to set goals for 2020, as well as make our one-year, three-year, five-year, and ten-year goals. Wow, that’s a lot of planning, thinking and dreaming! But I promise you, worth it!!

How do you do it? It is really very simple. All that is required is paper, pen, and some quiet time. Write at the top of four sheets: One-year, three-year, five-year, and ten-year. Answer these questions about yourself . . .

“Where do I want to be in life in __(fill in with 1, 3, 5, or 10)__ years.”

Imagine what you could be doing in five years. You could go to college. You could have that house. You could write a book. You could have a new career. Only you can decide what you want from your life and only you can limit yourself. Right now, just dream a little. Give yourself a few moments. Explore the possibilities!

The “G” word really isn’t that scary when you realize they are just steps taken to make your dreams come true. In fact, isn’t it exciting to think that you can actually make that happen!

Look for upcoming posts about what to do next, but for now, write down your thoughts about your life and where you want to be in ten years.

Featured photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

Choose Your Motto

Choose Your Motto

“Happy New Year!” Not only is it the beginning of a new year, it is the beginning of a new decade! So it is a truly special new year!

I personally have high hopes and expectations for 2020. I am not sure why this year is different from any other New Year’s, maybe it is because 2020 has a nice ring to it. Or maybe it is because it’s a new decade. Or maybe it is because I just want more from this year.

After going through some difficult times during the last three years, I am ready to hold tightly to my dreams and goals. I am ready to create a life I LOVE! And I am determined to make 2020 everything it can be.

One of the things that keeps me going throughout the year is coming up with my personal motto for the year. My motto keeps me on track and focused. It serves as a constant reminder as the days, weeks, and months of the coming year pass by. A motto also represents a value that I am trying to strengthen. Whenever I get too busy and distracted, my motto gets me refocused.

Here are some examples of my past mottos:

  • Have integrity no matter what.
  • Discipline.
  • Be kind to everyone.

They seem like simple phrases because they are. I try not to make my mottos complicated and yet those few words really encompass so much more.

“Have integrity no matter what.” I chose this motto one year because I had read a story about Abraham Lincoln and how he got his reputation for being honest. This story may or may not be true but I wanted to earn a reputation so people would know my intentions were trustworthy. Throughout the year, little things happened, and I would recall my motto. I went to lunch and ordered a half sandwich but was served a full meal. So, I told the waiter and paid for what I received (since I was hungrier than I thought, and I ate it). Another day, I was given a lot more change than I was due. When I realized what happened, I went back to the store and returned it. My motto kept me on track all year. Bigger things happened as well but the point is I had integrity no matter what.

“Discipline.” Yikes that was a hard one and I still struggle. I know I should go to the gym or not have that sweet, but I give in. This motto is a constant battle for me.

“Be kind to everyone.” It is easy to be kind to friends. It is harder to be kind when the grocery store clerk appears to be taking their time and you have a million things to do. I decided that this motto would help me to notice how I was acting to everyone I encountered throughout the day. Wow, there are so many opportunities to be kind!

My motto for this year is “Begin now.” This motto is to help me focus on not procrastinating. I put so many things off to tomorrow or next Monday or whenever I get around to it. I decided that in 2020, there is no more room for procrastination. I am sure I will want to come up with excuses, but my motto will act as a reminder that I should begin now instead of waiting until another time. I have also come up with a plan that when I am tempted to procrastinate, I will at the very least, take the next little step (no matter how small it will be).

What will your personal motto be for 2020? Think about what you want to focus on throughout the year. What phrase or word will keep you on track with your dreams and goals? Put signs up as a reminder. Print your motto and frame it. Make some art piece with your motto like a collage or painting. Write it in your journal. Describe what your life would look like if you lived by your motto.

I would love to hear what motto you chose for 2020 and why? Please comment below. I welcome your words!

Featured photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash.