Lack of time may be a First World problem, but it’s a problem nonetheless. Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, tells you how to stick to what matters most and ignore the rest.

Figuring out what your priorities are

Rushed and torn between professional and personal commitments, we generally have no idea how we spend our time.

“You don’t consciously notice it but you’re probably checking Facebook up to five times an hour,” warns Vanderkam. “The best way to see if you’re spending your time the way you wish is to keep a log of everything you do for a week.”

 

From there, look at your priorities. This is the toughest part.

Live life week in, week out

Life is often lived one week at a time with next week being a blank slate that will eventually be filled with ‘something.’ What this something is depends on key decisions you make.

“Imagine next week is a blank space made up of 168 hours. With your priorities in mind, how would you choose to fill it? Figure out what time could be re-deployed from stuff that’s not fitting with your priorities,” suggests Vanderkam.

Take control over time

According to Vanderkam, the key to maximizing time is to control it.

“You don’t have to do anything but eat and sleep in order to keep the body functioning.”

If your excuse for not reading your kids a bed-time story is that you have no time then you’re in denial.

“It’s not that you don,t have the time to read, it’s just not your priority.”

Never say, ‘I don’t have time’

Lack of time for ‘XYZ’ is the all-purpose modern excuse. Speaking to time experts, Vanderkam noticed they never say ‘I don’t have time’ but ‘it’s not a priority.

“In order to not have to own up to the fact we’re choosing not to do certain things, we blame this nebulous other thing, ‘time.’ You’re not getting certain things done because they’re not high enough on your priority list, not because you lack the time,” she says.

Writing up the perfect to-do list

“Look at things on a weekly basis and say, ‘what are my priorities both professional and personal’ then block these in. You only have one life. People think the two are separate but they’re not,” she said. “You don’t need to solve everything at once. One week your priority could be a project at work and the week after it could be your sister’s wedding. As long as those major priorities get done during the week, you are going to be moving forward.”

The moment we acknowledge what things are not high up on our priority list will be the moment we become in charge of how we spend our time.

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