Found a way to save time? Awesome!
Did a great job at making time? Cool!
Rearranged some things and found some time? Well done!
While hard work can result in saving, making, and finding time, you can breathe a bit easier if you'll just protect your time in the first place.
We love to talk about time as if it magically appears when we least expect it, or if it's something we can create more of with just a few life hacks and automated tasks. But since time marches on, is a cruel master, and treats us all equally, I've learned that protecting time from the outset saves headaches, helps you get things done, and creates less stress.
When you protect your time, you get to control it. When you protect time, you'll be making a statement about your priorities. And when you protect time, you are budgeting your minutes and hours wisely, spending one of the few resources you can't make more of.
Here are three things I do in order to protect my time as a leader, entrepreneur, dad, and husband:
- Live by a calendar. I don't care if you use Google Calendar, iCal, or some old school paper planner, entering what you need to do and when you'll be doing it is the best way to make sure you set aside all the time needed to accomplish your work.
- Set deadlines (with reminders). Better than simply slotting time on a calendar is also giving yourself a hard deadline. For example, I could enter that I'm working on a slide deck from 1 to 3 PM today, but it's also good if I set a deadline that the deck is "due" (to myself, perhaps) Monday at 5 PM. Because if two working hours today isn't enough to get it done, then I need to protect some time this weekend to keep working.
- Start treating time like money. For years, people have said that "time is money," but until you treat it like that, you may never realize the worth of a single hour of your day. I can't buy a pair of jeans if that money isn't in my bank account; I can't spend time at dinner with my family if I haven't protected the time to do so. An hour spends the same, whether it's with your head down at your desk, working and writing, of if it's with a friend, sharing a drink at happy hour. So, make sure you budget what needs to be done and then spend wisely.
How do you protect your time? What tips do you have to make sure you don't squander this precious resource?