Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ask Wednesday: How can you balance your schedule to make better use of your time and energy?

By William A. Johnson

I was listening to Click & Clack on NPR one Saturday and they were talking about the finite number of RPMs in the life of an engine – and the finite number of beats in a heart. With each beat you get closer to the end. So, if there is a finite number of beats, how do you make the best use of them?
    Consider this: You have a limited amount of energy to accomplish what you need to do in a given day. The way you allocate your energy will affect how fulfilling your day or week or month or year is. Your objective should be to ensure that you spend your time wisely and in ways that are fulfilling and energizing.
    But there are probably many things you do that are psychologically draining. So, the first step in managing your time is to address them. To get started, identify the main things you do that drain you. For example, your list might include these:

  • Clean the house from top to bottom and keep it clean
  • Return/retrieve items on loan
  • Throw out/give away unused or unneeded “baggage”
  • Fix things that are broken or in disrepair
You, of course, can create your own list. The point being, the things on your list drain your mental energy and reduce your capacity to do things that are fulfilling.
    Now that you have identified the main activities that drain you psychologically, address them by:

  • First identifying things that you can simply stop doing altogether. An example might be to stop eating a late-night snack and replacing it with juice. In any event, you can minimize or quit doing those things that deplete your energy.
  • And then allocating a manageable amount of time each day (or over the course of a week or a month) for the items that remain. Schedule an amount of time that limits the amount of energy that gets drained on these things, so that you reserve your energy for things that you enjoy and that are fulfilling.
Next, what are the main things that you enjoy and are fulfilling? What are some of your goals in life? A goal could be something as tangible as going to Hawaii by September 2016 or as general as increasing your happiness, improving your relationship with your partner, or whatever you value and matters to you.
    Once you’ve established a goal or two, or three, you can begin to specifically identify behaviors or specific tasks necessary to reach them. For example, to enhance your relationship with your partner, you might schedule an hour of quality of time with her or him every Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Finally, with draining tasks under control, and fulfilling tasks identified, you can create daily to-do lists that represent a balance of activities that protects and renews your energy and ensures that you progress toward the fulfilling achievement of your goals. For example:
  • Spend time talking to my partner about how much I appreciate him or her, etc.
  • Take books back to the library & see what they have about Hawaii
  • Read another article or chapter about Hawaii
  • Pick up the kids at 3:30
  • Buy groceries before 5:00
It is very important that your daily lists include things that will increase your positive energy and doesn’t include too many things that drain your energy.

Your new, balanced daily to-do lists will help you allocate time and energy for those personally fulfilling endeavors that enrich the quality of your life.

Copyright © 2015 by William A. Johnson
William A. Johnson is a consultant and life coach who has taught time-management seminars throughout the country.

1 comment:

  1. Bill, your column has inspired me to add at least one thing to my "fulfilling things" to-do list (which I guess is sort of the opposite of subtracting something from the "psychologically draining" to-do list). What I added was to sit on our back porch a while early this morning reading! Such a simple thing, but I could feel what a difference it made. It was so much more a word, more fulfilling!