How much of your life is “have-tos” If it’s a high percentage, you’re in good company; there are some things that like it or not, we must take on or else risk the consequences. Taxes fall into the “have-to” category, and for most of us, so does earning a living in some shape or form. Some of us may have family responsibilities that are not always pleasant but are important for us to attend to nonetheless.
But while we know we must deal with certain things to keep our lives running smoothly, it’s also important that we allow ourselves some space in our lives for “choose-to” activities. In fact, the more “have-tos” we face, the more vital it is to include enough “choose-tos.”
As a life coach, I see that most of my clients are more than aware of everything that they feel they must do. Yet very few people give equal weight to things that they enjoy doing, or base decisions around making sure their “choose-tos” don’t get short-shrift. This is dangerous, because if your life is based solely on following orders and doing what’s expected of you with no time for self-choice based on your true desires and preferences, you will quickly become disillusioned or burned out. The joy in life is in the “choose tos.”
Here are some ideas to help you prioritize putting yourself in the mix when it comes to setting your schedule:
Pay yourself first.
The money mantra of paying yourself first to ensure you have enough for your savings can work for time management as well. If you find yourself drowning in assigned responsibilities, then you need to carve out some time to do things that you want as well.
One of the best ways to ensure that your “you time” doesn’t get gobbled up like Thanksgiving turkey is to schedule it early in the day, before your other calendar items begin. This may mean waking up an hour earlier, which may require going to bed an hour earlier so that you still get enough sleep. Figure out how much time your chosen activity will take, and make accommodations for it in the morning.
Budget your time.
To continue the financial analogy, budgeting is another concept that can help you find the time you need for “choose tos.” Budgeting money requires planning ahead to ensure that you have enough funds to cover your expenses. Similarly, budgeting time means you must do some thinking in advance to determine that the hours available to you cover all activities on your plate-both ones you must do and ones you are choosing.
Look at your calendar and identify possible “holes” to work in some choose-to items. Perhaps lunch hour is good for you, or maybe you can fit some time in after a weekly meeting. Weekends may contain hidden pockets of time that can be reserved for your chosen activities if you carve it out in advance. Prior planning is key.
Replace some “have tos.”
Although as a life coach I often see great resistance to this idea, it’s important to consider whether you really must do everything that you currently think you must. Sometimes our sense of duty and responsibility overrides our commonsense when it comes to commitments.
As the new year approaches, take some time to think through whether you want to renew all of your current commitments. The new year offers a chance for a fresh start, and can give you a logical turning point to explain to others why your schedule is changing. As the saying goes, if nothing changes, nothing changes.