NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Time on Our Hands

Time on Our Hands


                Time is a unique resource in that everyone is given an equal amount — a gift of 24 hours each day. How you invest that gift is a major factor in how you feel about your life.

                Think of time as one of the tools that you have available to reach your goals. As with many tools, if you want to use time effectively, it may require some training (or retraining), determination and practice. Time goes by at the same rate no matter what you do. You can't speed it up or slow it down.

Some proven strategies for effective time use include:
                - Assume ownership of your time - Most people would be surprised if someone reached in their wallet without asking and helped themselves to the money found there. But how different is that from letting others help themselves to your time? Take ownership of your own time and do not allow others to make commitments of your time without your permission. Give your time freely when you want but don't make the mistake of undervaluing this resource.

                - Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize - Continually check yourself to see that you are working on the most important things that need doing on any specific day. Helping your child talk through a problem he/she is having or discussing the day's events with a spouse or friend may be more important than getting the dishes done.  Don't think of priorities only as jobs that need doing- people are priorities too!

                - Protect your blocks -Think of your day as several large blocks of time (the morning block, afternoon block, after-dinner block) with the blocks separated by natural interruptions. Where you have control, keep your blocks whole, scheduling appointments and meetings, running errands at the beginning or end of a block rather than in the middle. Having an appointment in the middle of a block leaves little time at either end to tackle a major piece of work.

                -Learn to work with your biological clock - Each individual has a peak time of day when their energy is at its highest and concentration at its best. Determine which time of day is your peak performance time and plan your work accordingly as your job and other commitments allow. What part of the day is best for you to do a task which takes real concentration?

                -Develop systems to keep things running smoothly at home- Busy individuals keep personal calendars. In a family setting, a master calendar is useful. Make each family member responsible for noting their time commitments on the calendar and consulting the calendar for potential conflicts when they make plans. After you have established the master calendar and have family members used to using it, work on a master bulletin board for posting reminders, announcements, and calling lists that each family member might need. Tack up not only a list of emergency numbers but also frequently used numbers such as your kids' friends and the favorite pizza delivery service

                - Break down large jobs into manageable pieces - One of the sources of procrastination is that some tasks can seem too overwhelming to even begin. Learn to break down a large task into manageable pieces and then begin with a piece you know you can handle. The most challenging step on major undertakings is often the first one

                - Reward yourself - Celebrate when a major task is completed or a major challenge is met. One of the problems with a hectic life is that you can be so busy that you fail to notice the completion of a major piece of work. You just move on to the next job without celebrating your previous success. Set up a reward system for yourself that serves as both a motivator to get certain difficult tasks done and an acknowledgment that you are making effective use of your time.

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