Time management tips rise to a new level of importance when technology transforms the ways we connect. How can you take advantage of fresh opportunities while enhancing your life off-line?
The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, based at the University of Southern California, has pointed out the challenge this presents. Their 2009 Digital Futures Report cites that fully 28 percent of Americans it interviewed last year indicate they have been spending less time with members of their households. That’s nearly triple the 11 percent who said that in 2006!
Furthermore, reports of feeling ignored, at least at times, by online family members grew by 40 percent over the same period. Fortunately, tuning into what works best for you personally can help you create a balanced approach. Your important relationships can then continue to flourish, while you progress with online networking.
Where Do You Stand?
It’s best to start with your own assessment. Do these findings translate out to your life? If so, where do you appear on the continuum? In the first half of the decade, people reported spending an average of 26 hours per month with their families. By 2008, however, that shared time had dropped to about 18 hours. That’s more than a 30 percent decrease!
An easy way to get a quick overview is to roughly track the amount of time you spend with family members and friends. Jotting a daily estimate every evening for a month into a small notebook is all that’s necessary.
- Is this time increasing or decreasing?
- How do you feel about it?
- How will your current patterns affect you if you are faced with a crisis?
- How easy is it for you to develop and maintain effective time boundaries?
It’s key to remember that your time is absolute, concrete, and limited.
It can be quite mobilizing to assess how satisfying your current balance of online and offline activity is. Think of your three happiest moments over the past month. Would you like to give more time to your favorite pastimes? Where can you find the extra time? For each minute you trim from surfing the Internet (for example) you are gaining new opportunities to spend time in other ways.
If you find that you are sliding into spending more time in your virtual world than is rewarding to you, you may want to step back and make some conscious choices. Here are 3 ideas, for starters:
- Structure your on-line time so that you have clear goals and parameters. Before logging off for the day, quickly review the sites you visited. How closely does your list of sites match your objectives?
- Try using a timer to give yourself an endpoint. If it’s helpful, place it in a different room!
- Plan together time with your family and make sure it’s in everyone’s schedule.
Creating intentionality provides you with enormous power. Even if you elect not to make any changes at all, you have dignified your choices by making them conscious and claimed. The more you assert that your choices matter, the more care you will take to make sure they address your priorities.
Make time choices that enrich your day from your perspective! Your life is simply too good to waste.
What is your next move to make the very most of your time?© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.