Time is precious. And finding time is a priceless gift. But keeping your time within your control may feel impossible! If your answers to the questions below are yes, you can ADD to your time by applying the lessons that follow.
- Do you feel like you spend most of your time putting out fires?
- Do you respond to other people’s priorities, leaving your own on the shelf?
Stop for a second. Think about ways that you are being reactive in your decisions about your time.
Reactive Time Choices-the 3 D’s
Bottom line, if your choices around time are reactive it will always be hard for you to create a plan and stick to it. You are being reactive if you lose your own priorities and get snagged by other people’s 3 D’s:
- Desires, and
Be Proactive-ADD to Your Time
What can you do when faced with the 3 D’s? First, do not let someone else’s tone or urgency automatically overrule your own priorities. Stop and ADD it up for yourself.
- Decide, and then
Do not confuse being proactive with being rigid; and definitely do not confuse being reactive with being flexible!
To become proactive while remaining responsive, look within to decide what time choices work the best for you. Your first challenge is to avoid being put on the spot.
Practical tips to help you be more proactive:
- Listen to what others say, but give yourself permission to wait before responding.
- Assess for yourself the importance or urgency of the issue.
- Do not be overwhelmed by individuals who are highly verbal, have strong personalities, or may just be crisis junkies.
- Try saying, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”
- Reserve the right to set a boundary for yourself.
Try This on for Size:
Maybe you work for someone who thrives on last-minute adrenalin rushes. Your boss comes to you after lunch with an “urgent” job. You could say:
- I can see that you feel (X) is very important.
- I just want to let you know that if I do (X) now, I probably will not have time to do (Y) by the end of the day.
- Which of the two do you prefer I do first?
In this way, you:
- Acknowledge the request but do not react,
- Convey the consequences of not setting priorities, and
- Give your boss the opportunity to make a choice.
The way you spend your time is the way you live your life
People make time choices differently, depending on their values. To be more proactive, start by setting some reasonable boundaries for yourself. Experiment a little and learn from others’ examples. You will gradually develop the self-reference and collection of skills that make you a proactive expert on finding time.© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.