Stop Wishing, Start Writing: The Time Edition

If you work in an office (not one of those glorified catering jobs –  I kid, I kid!) and your employer gave you the option of increasing your weekly pay by 25% and you continue to work 5 days/40 hours a week, OR working one less day a week and keeping your current pay (you’d make the same, not less, as you do now to work 32 hours), which would you choose?

Would you forego the increase in income to have an extra day off a week?

I believe, as Dave Ramsey says, that our incomes are our greatest wealth building tools. Free time, however, has to be our greatest benefit, and a benefit that I can’t use isn’t much of a benefit at all.

As we close this series on tools that I’ve used to bring some order to my life, I want to spend a few moments talking about the second thing that is, probably, stopping you from chasing your dream; Time.

When we really started looking at our finances and how we could make improvements in that area, I didn’t really have an “A-HA!” moment. Money is just numbers, and numbers come relatively easy to me. Time, however, is much more abstract to me. Even though it is finite – much more so than income, saving, and certainly spending – I couldn’t wrap my brain around time management.

In January of 2011, Michael Hyatt, the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, came to our church and spoke on the importance of having a life plan. Because Mr. Hyatt believes that inspiration without instruction is useless, he offered to us his book “Creating Your Personal Life Plan” to help us through the process. It’s a great tool that Mr. Hyatt offers for free at his website. A life plan helps you identify those things that are truly important to you – those things to which you want to devote your time and energy.

Through reading Michael Hyatt’s blog, I found Michael Nichols’ blog. Mr. Nichols wrote a series called “Get Your Life Back!” which can still be found on his site. The series is a perfect complement to the life plan, because it gives you tools that help you bring your life plan off the paper and in to practice.

Two tools that Mr. Nichols shares, for free, are an “Annual Time Block” and “My Ideal Week Template”. Both tools help you realize a principle Stephen Covey teaches in his book ‘First Things First’, if you don’t plan time for the important things in your life, the small things in your life will crowd out those important things. Those important “things” could be your health, your spouse, your kids, your time, or everything you identify n your life plan.

Both tools are great, but I suggest that you start by developing your ideal week because you can realize the return almost immediately from writing down what your ideal week looks like. As with LoseIt and your finances, it’s amazing what simply writing down your goal – your ideal week – will do for you. If you’re like me, you’ll probably realize that you have a little more free time than you think.

A couple of tips as you work on your ideal week:
1. Write down everything. Notice that Mr. Nichols notes his quiet time, his commute time, the Saturday morning breakfast date with his daughter, even time with his wife. You should do the same for those things that are important to you. Writing it down makes it real!

2. Make sure that you include, and don’t give away, your white space. White space on my calendar is time that isn’t devoted to anything – but it’s not up for grabs either. If you’re an introvert like me, you know how valuable the white space on a calendar is. Don’t give it away. Guard it like your sanity depends on it being on your calendar.

Once you get your ideal week in place, then start working on the annual time block. As we approach the fourth quarter of the year and the holiday season, it’s really a great time to start using the time block to make sure you get all of the important events on your calendar. Remember, both tools complement your life plan. If you don’t have one of those, I’d encourage you to start there.

Your life is just a collection of your days, weeks, and years. Focus your days on what’s important to you and your life has to follow suit.

I hope that you’re having a great week! If you made it this far in the post, you deserve a bonus! Check out “Time” by Act of Congress. Thanks, for reading and I’ll see you Friday!

Photo credit: Your Secret Admiral / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA