80. Manage your time

mental fitness Oct 28, 2020

The first pillar of mental fitness is that you manage your time. 

There are long courses and books dedicated to time management but the central principle of all of them is the same: spend your time doing the things you value and that help you achieve your goals. This is not encouragement to be selfish. Altruistic people plan to spend time giving and helping others because that is a primary value of theirs. It could be for you too. It is up to you to decide. 

The most important reason why so many of us spend so much of our time doing things we neither value or that bring us closer to our goals is that we are not clear about either of those things. We must have a clear vision that allows us to decide what gets priority. And anything that doesn't contribute to that vision gets cut out or minimized. 

Courtney found herself continually getting drunk on Saturday nights and then losing her Sunday to hangover and lethargy. This was in contrast to her goal of getting healthy. She valued socializing and showing off the excellent progress she had already made with her body but had never learned to do those things without also drinking in excess and staying up too late. This resulted in a frustrated girl that started her weeks seemingly behind because she was unable to keep her goals and values in mind. And she had no way of managing those things outside of a monthly conversation with her coach. First, she needed to get clear about her values and goals. Which seemed to be at odds. Values like socializing and feeling good dressing up were mixed with activities that moved her further from her goals of being healthy because the only way she knew how to do those things involved going out and drinking. This behavior had been conditioned for many years and now that it is apparent she can get to work on improving. 

A good thought exercise to clarify your values and goals goes like this: if asked, what would your closest family and friends say about you? 

Then write down your personal values and goals so you can refer to it when you are tempted to do something that doesn't jive with them. 

So what does values and goals have to do with time management? 

Once you know what is important to you then you can go into your week and classify all the things you do with this simple chart. 

Classify the activities that fill your week in terms of their importance and urgency. A lot of leisure activities like time with family and friends and relaxing can and should be classified as important. 

You should aim t spend as much time as possible doing the things that are important but not urgent. As the matrix shows these are things that should be scheduled. Which brings us to the next point: Use a calendar and schedule your activities. 

I work with a lot of high performers and I have never met anyone who hasn't claimed to be busy. The first thing I ask them is whether they use a calendar or not. As the saying goes, what gets scheduled gets done. 

Once you have identified what is urgent and important and added them into your schedule do not commit yourself to things that are not important. Delegate or eliminate them. 

In Courtney's example she could schedule time to get dressed up and socialize on Friday or Saturday nights. They support her values. But she could schedule herself to be done by 10 pm and headed home and she would then be much better off also pursuing her goal of being healthy because she wouldn't stay up and keep drinking needlessly. 

In the words of Jim Rohn, Either you run the day or the day runs you. 

Clarifying your values and goals and then using a schedule to plan your activities will allow you to run the day. 


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