Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Time is precious.  It is the one ingredient in life where everyone is truly equal.  We all have 24 hours a day or 8,760 hours every year.  How we use these hours will determine whether time is our friend or foe.  Everyone wastes time.  Some of us waste more than others.  We waste time when we spend it doing something less important than something else we could be doing.
Regardless of how hard you try, some of your time will be wasted.  Don't waste more time by feeling guilty.  Accept it and move on.  Promise yourself you will do better the next time.  Save just 30 minutes every day using good time management and you will have saved 182 hours a year or almost 23 8-hour days.  That is enough time to develop a new skill, learn a new sport, write a book or improve the quality of your life in many different ways.
Here are some time management skills you can do to bring your time under your control so you can take advantage of what time you do have.  If you are not sure how you are wasting time, you may want to keep a time diary for a week.  Write down everything you do and how long it took you.  Don't leave out anything. Phone calls, talking to friends, raiding the fridge, and everything else that took 1 minute or more should be recorded.  After 1 week, you should be able to see where your time went and where you need to take some action.

1.  Make a list of everything you have to do today.  Put them in their order of importance with the most important coming first.  Each day, start with number one and work your way through your list.  If you are like me, you will not finish your list on most days.  That is o.k. because one person can only do so much.  The important factor here is that when you start with number one and then go to two and three, etc., you are always working on the most important items on your list.  Things that are leftover can be put on tomorrow's list if it still needs doing.

2.  Keep a special list of things you have to do which will only take 10 minutes or less.  When you have a few minutes to spare, pick something from this list and complete it.  One big time waster is standing in line waiting for something or someone.  Keep something small with you so when you are in line, you aren't wasting your time doing nothing.  Take a bill out of your pocket and write the check for it.  Jot down notes you need for someone you have to talk to.  Write a letter.  We all have those little things we want to do but don't find the time to do.  Do them while others are wasting theirs.

3.  Never put more time and energy into making a decision than the decision is worth.  Make the decision even if all the facts are not known.  You will never know everything there is to know about something that is going to happen in the future.  There will always be some risk.
Don't waste more time procrastinating.  (Reducing risk and procrastination will be covered in future articles.)

One major cause of lack of time is procrastination. Stop procrastinating and have significantly more time to do other things you want to do. Click here for Dr. Yarnell's "Eliminate Procrastination With Hypnosis" CD.

4.  Stop participating in activities that you are no longer interested in or where your presence is not needed.  Time can be saved if you choose wisely how to spend it.  If you are no longer interested in participating in some group you belong to, become assertive and drop out or, at least, cut back on your participation. 

5.  Save important decisions for when you are at the peak of your energy cycle.  Everyone has some time during the day when they seem to think more clearly.  For example, I'm a night person and I seem to think more clearly at 10 PM than at 10 AM.  I save my important thinking and decision making for then whenever it's possible.

6.  When a crisis occurs and you can't put off making a decision until you are at your peak, there are two things you will need to do to maximize your efficiency.  First, if you've been sitting for any length of time, get up and walk around for at least 30 seconds.  This slight bit of exercise will help circulate a fresh supply of blood and oxygen to your brain so you will think more clearly.  Actually, anyone who has been sitting for 1 to 1 1/2 hours should also do this to stay fresh.  The second thing you should do is to relax by taking a few deep breaths and relaxing as you exhale.  If you get caught up emotionally in a crisis, you will probably not be thinking as clearly as you can.  Relax and make better decisions.

Copyright 1999 - 2008 Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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The Last Lecture

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