“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” Sidney Howard
Time management strategies for achieving goals require you to make lots of time choices, some of them quite difficult. You must also develop good, substantial time boundaries.
To strengthen your resolve, picture your day as a basket. The basket represents the time that you have to work with for the next 24 hours. Each thing that you put into the basket, obviously, takes up space. This limits what you can include.
You probably have a basket that is full, if not overflowing right now! What that means in practical terms is that in order to add something new, you need to take something out to make space for it. This can be a very difficult choice; by making it consciously, you give yourself a great gift.
Otherwise, your basket will overflow. Because time is concrete and absolute, there is no way around this.
Think for a minute. What has been falling out of your overflowing basket? How does this, in turn, add to your stress level? When faced with too many tasks and priorities to juggle, you may begin to forget things and drop the ball on commitments. Your effectiveness and efficiency decrease, even as your stress skyrockets.
So, monitoring your stress level and effectiveness daily is an excellent way to determine whether it’s time to reassess and simplify your commitments. Few rewards compensate for daily, exhausting stress.
If your basket is overflowing because you are attempting to control more than you can manage, and your stress mounts as you try to squeeze in plans for an “ideal” personal event, consider 5 findings of psychologist and author Daniel Gilbert, as mentioned in his 2007 book, Stumbling on Happiness:
- People frequently overestimate the long-term emotional effects that certain events will have on them.
- By and large, people tend to possess a “set point” of happiness, to which they revert, eventually.
- People are notoriously inaccurate in guessing what will make them happy.
- Dreaded events and outcomes may, once they materialize, prove to be fresh opportunities for happiness.
- Happiness is rarely the peak experience we anticipate, and rarely lasts as long as we think it will.
Mistaken expectations apply to unhappiness, as well. In other words, the stakes are rarely what people imagine. Better by far to reduce the contents of your basket to a manageable amount, and to appreciate the moment, instead of attempting to micro-manage an unknowable future!
By modifying unrealistic expectations and cultivating gratitude, you give yourself two gifts. You clear out your basket more easily and fully appreciate your present moment, where the heart of time resides. How can you translate these insights into rewarding activities while planning your time choices?© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.