Time management Monday: You can’t do everything

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At some point in adulthood, we look at our master lists and realize it’s not possible to get everything done. There are so many things we have to do and need to do, those actions often crowd out the things we want to do. We have to make choices about what we will do, and what tasks will fall by the wayside. But don’t give up hope, there are ways to work in those things you want to do.

Make the things you want to do a priority. This takes conscious effort, because it’s easy to let days go by without doing those things you’ve been wanting to do. Pretty soon days become weeks and then months, and you still haven’t gotten around to reading that book, doing that art project, taking that class, etc. Non-urgent tasks are easy to put off, but how disappointed will you be if you never learn how to play guitar or take that trip to Venice? See my previous posts on making your goals your priorities and carving out time in your schedule for things you want to do for more specifics on how to accomplish this.

Eliminate things that are not your goal tasks. Pay attention to how much time you spend on things you do not value. We only have so many minutes in a day. Spend less time doing things that are not important like spending too much time online, watching TV, or back-and-forthing over email when a short phone call would be more efficient. Getting rid of these time-wasters will free up time for you to do more things you want to do.

Get someone else to do things for you. Not all of us can afford a house cleaner or gardener, but if you get creative about finding ways to get other people to do things for you, you might be surprised at how affordable it can be. For example, my friend has a front room with huge windows that are very time consuming to clean. She talked to her neighbors and they went in together on a window cleaning service. She pays $5 a month for her windows to be cleaned, saving her time in a very affordable way.

Be honest with yourself. Take a good hard look at your to-do list, and think honestly about whether you will actually do all of those tasks. Are they important to you? You might discover that some of those things are not things you care about. Maybe they are things you feel like you should do but you don’t really want to spend time on them. For example, do you feel like you “should” declutter your home because that’s what it seems like is the right thing to do? Maybe you like a certain amount of clutter in your home. (I like clutter, it feels homey to me.) Look at those tasks you’ve been putting off, and figure out why. Eliminate tasks from your list that you don’t really want to do.

We can’t do everything, there just isn’t time. Evaluate your tasks: what are you procrastinating but really want to do? What do you do out of habit that you can eliminate? What can you hand off to someone else? And what do you just not want to do? Once you figure these out, you’ll find time to fit in those things you would rather do.


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