time management
Achieving Goals,  Featured

How to Manage Your Time So You Always Have Time For What’s Most Important

What’s the best way to manage your time?

As a married mom of three, a part-time jewelry consultant, and blogger, I have been forced to become better at time management.  And I am always trying to improve my skills in this area.  I want to maximize my time with my family, but I don’t want to give up the big dreams that I have for us.
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I often get asked, “How do you do it all?!”  The answer is that I prioritize.  I am learning to make a distinction between the urgent and the important.  I first heard this idea from Stephen Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. (A must-read by the way.)  He teaches that all of our activities fall in one of four quadrants.


The “Quadrants” (different ways we use our time)

Quadrant IV activities include leisurely things that do not add value to your life.  These are like the “junk food” of life…enjoy in moderation.

Quadrant II activities are the most important but most often neglected because they are not pressing matters.  They include reading personal development, exercising, date nights with your spouse, playing with your children, planning your budget, etc. Many of them are the activities that we look back on at the end of our lives and wish we had done more often.  They are the things that, if we take the time for despite all the distractions, we will get the most out of life.

Quadrant I is usually not a problem for anyone.  If something is urgent and important, you take care of it quickly.  If you don’t make time for Quad II, you end up having more crises like this, such as marital problems, health issues, etc.
Quadrant III activities are urgent but not actually important.  This might seem like an oxymoron, but it isn’t.  Something can be urgent but unimportant.    
An example could be an e-mail requesting a response.  It might be urgent, but is it actually important?  If not, it’s a Quad III. These activities should be minimized.  They are usually distractions.  We only have so much time in a day, so we must focus it on what is important.

In my life, I have found that watching television is a quadrant IV activity that is easily cut out.  But if the kids are asleep and my husband and I have some alone time to watch something together, then I do it, because it becomes a Quadrant II activity.  

We bond over that time and enjoy discussions afterward. This adds value to my life, so it is important to me. I make uninterrupted time to be with my children because I do not want to be distracted away from them.

I wake up early to exercise, read, and write before they are awake.

I also work on my home business and blog in the morning.  While I am on break at work, instead of scrolling through Facebook or looking at headlines, I work on this blog or read something of value.

In the car, I listen to audiobooks or podcasts.  Not only does this save me time while I’m at home, but it also leaves me feeling refreshed and excited to do my best at work.

All of this allows me to be my best and minimize the time away from my children when I am home and they are awake.  Since I work outside of the home sometimes, I want to make the most of my time with my children when I’m home.  They won’t be young for long!

how to manage time

Don’t Waste Your Time– It’s Your Life!

Our life is made up of our days.  Those days are already happening. If you spend your life on unimportant activities, you might just look back on life and feel like you wasted a good chunk of it.  Who wants that feeling?

However, we don’t want to “live every day like it’s our last” like the cliche says because there’s a good chance that we will make it to tomorrow.  I mean, seriously…if today was my last day, I’d drain my bank account to fly to the Caribbean with my family…or something like that.  

But it wouldn’t be a good idea to do that today, because I’d like to have that money tomorrow.  We need to use make the most of today (enjoy it) and use today to build our future.  So, work on a balance between the two. What are you doing today that is actually important to you? Remember, today is your life. Not tomorrow, not someday.

Check out this related post: Should We Stop Doing Anything That Doesn’t Make Us Happy?

Are you doing things that are going to help your future be better (especially if you aren’t satisfied with your current situation)?

For me, this translates like this:

I make time for my husband because my marriage is important to me.

I make time for my children because my children are important to me.

I make time for my home business because it is important to me.

I make time for reading, writing, exercising, eating well because taking care of my mind and body is important to me.

When a friend is available to get together, I do everything I can to make it work, because my friends are important to me.

When you decide what’s important to you, you figure out a way to do it.  

Decide what’s important to YOU, write it down, and make time for it. Make time, because you won’t just “find” it.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
-Stephen Covey

Figure out where you are wasting time on unimportant activities and cut it out of your daily routine.  If it’s not important and it’s taking time from what is, it has to go.

If you have to, budget your time like you do your money!  John Maxwell says a budget is “telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Same thing with time…TELL IT WHERE TO GO! Or you’ll wonder where it went.

If you, like most of our society, are addicted to your phone, guess what— that’s a great opportunity for you to shift from a Quadrant IV activity to Quadrant II.

To help break your addiction, get an app like “Quality Time” and choose some settings that help you to be more intentional. I set mine up to alert me when I’ve been on Facebook or Instagram for 15 minutes. That’s the maximum amount of time social media is allowed to have from my day. There’s too much else that is more worthy of my attention.

Also, check out my post: How to Break Your Cell Phone Addiction for more tips.

As you can see, most of time management is weeding through to what’s really important and cutting down on what isn’t. You can’t do it all.  You have to choose what to do or you’ll end up running out of time each day and missing things that are closest to your heart.

Use your time well. It’s your LIFE!


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