Finding Time for Things, Finding Time for You

November 14, 2009 by
Filed under: Helpful Insights, Personal Development 

 Finding Time for Things, Finding Time for YouIt’s amaz­ing how time can be on your side one moment, and then act­ing against you the next. Recently, I found myself almost run­ning out of time for quite a few of my respon­si­bil­i­ties not to men­tion respon­si­bil­i­ties to myself. For me, the last few weeks have sim­ply been an avalanche of things, both at work and in my per­sonal life. During all this, I found myself think­ing every­one has the same 168 hours in a week. So how do some peo­ple han­dle so much while oth­ers can barely han­dle keep­ing up with just a few things?

After find­ing myself not hav­ing as much time as I believed I needed, I decided to re-examine the ways I use to find time in the past. The funny thing is that no mat­ter how good you are at man­ag­ing time, every now and then a per­son needs to revisit the process for time man­age­ment and be reminded of how to make bet­ter use of time.

Below is a story I learned a long time ago from a work­shop on time man­age­ment. Since the work­shop, I’ve heard it repeated many times in dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios and in dif­fer­ent for­mats. Regard­less of how the story specifics go, the over­all mes­sage of the story was the same. I’d love to give full credit to the author of the story. But since I’m not sure who the author of the story was or how the orig­i­nal story went, I’m repeat­ing the ver­sion I first heard in an effort to help illus­trate one of the most impor­tant points of time management:

Is My Jar Full or Not?

One day a busi­ness school teacher was speak­ing to a group of stu­dents in one of her classes and, to drive home a point, used an illus­tra­tion those stu­dents will never for­get. As she stood in front of the class she said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then she pulled out a one-gallon Mason jar and set it on the table in front of her. Then she pro­duced about a dozen large rocks about the size of her fist and care­fully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, she asked, “Is this jar full?”

Every­one in her class said, “Yes.”

Then she said, “Oh really?” She then reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. She dumped some gravel in and shook the jar caus­ing pieces of gravel to work them­selves down into the space between the large rocks. Then she asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to her. “Prob­a­bly not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” she replied. She reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. She then started dump­ing the sand into the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more she asked the ques­tion, “Is this jar full now?” “No!” the class shouted.

Once again she said, “Good.” Then she grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then she looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One per­son raised his hand and said, “The point is, no mat­ter how full your sched­ule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!”

“No,” the teacher replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illus­tra­tion teaches us is: If you don’t put the large rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

Find Time for the Large Rocks that Make Up Your Life

Find­ing time for the large rocks or sim­ply the things most impor­tant for you first depends on exam­in­ing what is impor­tant in your life. What are the ‘large rocks’ in your life? Are the large rocks:

Your loved ones?

Your chil­dren?

Your edu­ca­tion?

Some wor­thy cause?

Your dreams?

Your spouse or sig­nif­i­cant other?

Doing things that you love?

Your health?

Hav­ing time for yourself?

Remem­ber to put the LARGE ROCKS in first or you’ll never get every­thing in at all.

If you sweat the small stuff (the gravel, the sand in the story) then you’ll fill your life with lit­tle things you’ll worry about that really don’t mat­ter, and you’ll never have the real time you need to spend on the big stuff (the large rocks).

FindingTime1 300x299 Finding Time for Things, Finding Time for You

Make a list of the things you def­i­nitely want to accom­plish — For those who’ve gone to time man­age­ment sem­i­nars and/or have taken classes on the sub­ject, I’m sure you’re heard this time and time again. Even so, how many times have you found your­self intend­ing to cre­ate a list of the things you want to do, but failed to do so?  Or even worst, cre­at­ing a list but then, have days where you for­get to look at it? One day passes, and then another, and then another. Some­times you may be in the mid­dle of some­thing and you remem­ber your list only to say “I’ll look at it when I’m fin­ished or when I’m not as busy as I am now”. Doing that will sooner or later ren­der the list cre­ated inef­fec­tive in help­ing you to accom­plish the things you want to accomplish.

Make sure you review your list every­day, prefer­ably at the same time each day. I find that doing this as part of the morn­ing rou­tine in the eas­i­est. By review­ing your list each day at the same time, you make it a habit to review your list.

When You Make Your List, Pick the Top Three Things to Accom­plish – Many peo­ple when they cre­ate a list of things to do, they still get over­whelmed at the things they intend to do.  There’s an old say­ing that says, “How do you eat an ele­phant? You do it one bite at a time.” This con­cept is sim­i­lar to the con­cept of large rocks in the ear­lier story. What are your large rocks?

Keep Your List in a Place Where You Can Eas­ily Find It — If you cre­ate a list, it’s eas­ier to review it if you keep it in a place where you can eas­ily find it every day. What good is a list of things to accom­plish if you are not able to eas­ily find it?

Learn to Say “No” — I myself am quite guilty of doing this on many occa­sions.  I’m the type of per­son that by nature wants to get as much accom­plished as pos­si­ble. The irony is that the more a per­son has going on, the more chance they’ll not be able to accom­plish every­thing to the level of sat­is­fac­tion they set for the task. That’s of course assum­ing they’re able to fin­ish every­thing they’re per­son­ally respon­si­ble for. Who said you have to say “Yes” to every­thing that is asked of you?

Have a Pad and Pencil/Pen Next to the Bed — One thing that has helped me is to have a pad and pen on the night­stand next to my bed. Rea­son being is that I find I remem­ber many of the things that I’d like to do or plan to do as I lie down relax­ing just before I go to sleep. Hav­ing a pad and pen next to the bed has helped me to get a much bet­ter night’s sleep. Why? Because as soon as I remem­ber some­thing I’d like to do the next day, I write it down on the pad.  The beauty of this is that I don’t have to worry about remem­ber­ing it the next morn­ing. I can go to sleep with­out the worry that I’ll forget.

Block Out Time Each Day for Your­self to Catch Up — If you use a per­sonal infor­ma­tion man­ager such as Out­look or Google Cal­en­dar, make sure you block out half an hour to an hour each day for you to catch up on things. Once you do so, make sure you keep this appoint­ment every­day. This has been one of the most valu­able lessons I learned early on in my career from one of my men­tors. Hav­ing that time each day, allows me to either catch up on things, or re-examine how my day is going. Some­times I use this time to re-evaluate my list of things that I want to accom­plish and if needed, re-prioritize.

Make Sure Your List of Things to Accom­plish con­tains Fun Things to Do As Well – Hav­ing fun things to do on your list is just as impor­tant as hav­ing things you feel are not as much fun. Some­times, hav­ing a list of fun things to do can make life much more enjoy­able.  Mak­ing time for you is not self­ish but just as impor­tant as every­thing else. If you do not find time for your­self every so often, you will find your­self get­ting time-starved. You’ll start feel­ing tired, and over-extended and believe me that oth­ers will notice.  Sched­ul­ing time for rest and relax­ation will help to give you energy to do the things you need to do.

Note: If you’re in a rela­tion­ship, make sure you plan time into your sched­ule to spend it with your sig­nif­i­cant other. This will help ensure a suc­cess­ful relationship.

How Do You Find Time?

The ideas I’ve men­tioned above are just some ideas to help man­age time a lit­tle bit bet­ter.  These are not the only meth­ods for find­ing time for things, they are sim­ply a hand­ful of the many ways a per­son can cre­ate time for themselves.

What are some of the ways you find and make time for your­self and for the things you want to accom­plish? Why not share them with oth­ers below?

 Finding Time for Things, Finding Time for You


One Awesome Comment, Add Yours on Finding Time for Things, Finding Time for You

  1. Taufik Hidayat on Mon, 21st Apr 2014 4:49 am
  2. This arti­cle is very use­ful for all of us who read it, thank you.

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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