Where did the time go?
Maudie Kelly, MS
Human Development Specialist
Have you heard the saying, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”? I thought about this recently when I spoke to Head Start parents about time management. Sometimes it’s hard to decide if we truly don’t have enough time or have developed bad habits and need to make changes in how we use our time.
We know that everyone has 24 hours every day. We can’t change how that time goes by, but we can work on ways to use the time we have most effectively.
· Learn to prioritize. Decide what is really important in your life. So many things compete for our time and attention, but only you can decide how you really want or need to invest your time. Determine daily what needs to be done and in what order. Also allow for the unexpected. Talking to your teenage daughter after a big fight with her best friend may be more important than sweeping the floor.
· Set yourself as a priority. Take some time for yourself to be able to direct care and attention to others. It’s not selfish to insist on time to relax and pursue some of your own interests. Your attitude will be more positive because you have invested time in yourself.
· Learn to say “No.” It’s not saying the word that is hard, but the feeling of guilt we sometimes have afterward. Try to focus on important things that will get done because you declined
something that was not a priority.
· Delegate. Assign responsibility of a task (not just the work) to someone else. A word of caution here: Don’t be tempted to take over if he/she is not doing it the way you think it should be done. “Done” may need to be “good enough.”
· Try not to procrastinate. When you know you’re putting a task off, make an appointment with yourself to take the first step toward completing that task.
Determine what the first step will be, then set a specific time to begin.
· Develop systems to keeps things running smoothly at home. Consider a master family calendar with responsibilities for each family member that fits with their time commitments.
· Downsize your home and office. Sell/give away/toss things you don’t need.
· Celebrate! Reward yourself when a major task is completed. It doesn’t need to be expensive—maybe a bubble bath or two chapters in a new book. Just acknowledge your accomplishments!
· Pick out your clothes and pack your lunch the night before.
· Evaluate your commitments. This could be for work, school and community activities, hobbies, church, etc. Consider making changes if possible.
I like a quote by Michael Althsuler, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Remember that!
Resources: MU publications
GH 6651, Challenges and Choices: Stress Management—The Challenge of Balance, and GH 6653, Challenges and Choices: Time Effectiveness—Prioritizing Your Time. Available at extension.missouri.edu.