Do you ever feel frustrated because you don't get enough time to do important things? And how many times do you feel overwhelmed because you have to do too many things in too little time. I had many instances in my life when I was in this situation blaming everyone else and everything else for my misery. How do I managed to use time better to lead organized and happy life?
Why do we have time crunch?
When I was a single I had lot of free time. In fact I didn't have a clue on how to spend all my free time. At that time I developed few habits like reading news from all the news outlets, watching TV, checking emails every few minutes, shopping, etc. Then I continued these habits when I got married and then became a dad (Old habits never die!). We hardly look at how we spend our time and if the task we are spending time on is really important. We never prioritize things if life situation changes. For example, I was a news junkie when I had lot of time. I was still trying to be news junkie even after I had two dependents to share my time with. It never struck me that I needed to do some adjustments because of these life changes. I tried few time management tools to get myself organized but nothing worked. Looking at the "to-do" list would make me tired. After a long struggle, bickering, fighting and spending sleepless nights I felt that it is time to take charge of my life. I read quite a few books, talked to few friends and listened to successful people. I managed to balance life where I could spend time for myself, spend time with my family and at the same time do justice to the work I do.
Some Thinking and Prioritizing
The first step for effective time management is to know what is important in your life. How much time you want to spend for your work, how much time for the family and yourself. How much time you want to spend to pursue your passion. Some people go one step further to set goals in life. When you set goals in life you can eliminate all the tasks that doesn't contribute towards the goal. Don't get scared when I talk about goals. You can always start with small achievable goal. But remember that goals have to be very specific. It could be like "earn $1 million dollars by the age of 40 so that you can spend rest of your life raising kids". This way you are linking your specific goal with your value. If you set a goal like "to lead useful life" it is equivalent to not having the goal. I have seen few people who know the purpose of their life. The very reason they are born in this earth. This would be the more ideal case since you know very clearly where you want to spend your time.
Monitoring Your Time
The second step is pretty easy once you know what you want out of your life. You find out how exactly you spend your day everyday. Be conscious of the things you are doing everyday so that you can eliminate the things that doesn't contribute to your goal in any way. For example, if your goal is to earn million dollar, probably you won't spend time watching TV. Once you eliminate the unimportant tasks, it frees up lot of time which you can redirect towards your goal or purpose. In my case I found that I'm a news junkie. I spent nearly 2 hours everyday reading news most of the time same news in different news outlet. Once I became conscious of it, I made sure that I don't waste time on it. Other examples could be spending 3 hours everyday in traffic, spending lot of time for shopping that you don't need, checking emails every few minutes. The more important thing is be conscious of the things you do.
The third step may not make sense to some people but it played significant role in making my life more organized and stress-free. It is giving time to yourself. I could do it by getting up early in the morning so that I can get two uninterrupted hours. I use this time to plan the day ahead, for reading books, for morning exercises, etc. By doing this I never felt that I don't get time for myself even if I spend rest of the day on work or with family. This is one thing that helped staying sane through out the day.
In Conclusion...At anytime, if you feel that you don't have time, the best thing to do is take a break and relax. To know what is important and what is not, you have to be sane. By following these steps I realized that time stays long enough for those who use it wisely. A priceless quote on time: Time is free, but it's priceless.