How do you spend your time? – ‘don’t die with your potential intact’.

Just stop for a minute and consider this quote which stopped me in my tracks.

I read it when at a crossroads in my life: a time when I could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to stability, certainty and financial security or give them up for less of all these things.

A poignant thought but you never know ‘when your time is up’, as the saying goes.

I thought, it’s no good dreaming about what I might do when I have more time, I needed to get on with the things I wanted to achieve, and I decided to do so right then.

I took the plunge and started that ‘journey of self-discovery’ – yes, that old cliché, but please read on if you are feeling the pressure of time, and never seem to have enough of it.

Where’s the day gone?

Time just flies by!

I just don’t have enough time.

Can you relate to these statements?

I hear so many people using these words – me included at times! – but I also remember being frustrated and pre-occupied with these thoughts. Now I am not.

You may ask ‘why is that?’

Consider these points:

We all have the same amount of time in each, and every day.

The critical element for me now, is how I spend that time.

Each, and every day, I want to spend it well.

But what does ‘well’ mean? To me. . . . . . and to you?

For me it is a strong feeling that I don’t want to have any regrets and waste my time on things that are not important to me.

You may think this is selfish, but I will tell you this: many years ago, when I was running my nursery business, studying part-time and with two young children of my own, every Friday night I would think: ‘Oh my goodness the house is a mess! I’ve done no housework all week, there are no clean clothes for the children to wear and we have little food left for meals.’

I felt pressurised and, at times overwhelmed.

Every Friday night after work, I’d go shopping and every Saturday morning, I took my children to their swimming lessons.

I would put the wash on and clean the house from top to bottom, often through until Sunday. I was tired. It seemed like a chore.

I didn’t want to start every week-end like that, but it became a habit.

With what I have learnt about time management and having a better understanding of how to take care of myself, I now think about these things differently.

If I was in that situation now, I would think: ‘What are my priorities and what is so important that it cannot wait?’ I would plan the week-end activities to ensure these things were covered.

We all have priorities in our lives: things that are important to us, that we value and do not want to be without.

For me it’s having quality time with my family and my friends. Taking time to enjoy the outdoors: fresh air and early morning or evening walks in the forest, across fields or along the coast. Cycling. Eating well and taking exercise. Working to help and support others in whatever way I can: that’s what I like best about the work that I now do. Learning new skills and developing existing skills are important things to me too.

I take some time to plan my day and the week ahead but with scope to take up new opportunities or experiences as they arise, and to be more spontaneous.

Quality time with my children. Providing a meal for the family and ensuring there were healthy and nutritional meals available in the week were important to me as a young mum. Having a clean, tidy house? Maybe not so important, and why did it need to be cleaned thoroughly every single week?

Now I would say to myself: it’s Friday night, I’m tired but there is convenience food left in the cupboard which I can quickly cook this evening.

The house is a mess, but we’ll all tidy up, whilst the washing is on.

I can read to the children and we can watch a film together and relax and have that quality time together.

The shopping can wait. I’ll do it when the boys are having their swimming lesson on Saturday.

The cleaning is not that important, and it certainly isn’t urgent!

We all have things in our lives that we do – to live, to keep us safe and well, and to make us happy.

Most of us eat because we enjoy it and perhaps to stay fit and healthy. Both are important to me.

I also enjoy having a meal with family or friends: a good way to socialise. I always finish half an hour after everyone else. It’s a joke amongst those that know me well. It’s a good time to catch up on news. I like to listen (not just talk!) and I really don’t multi-task!

So often I hear people say that they are too busy working to spend time socialising with friends and family or that they seem to spend less time doing this. I know, as I have been there too in the past.

Consider this: Psychology Today highlights the importance of socialising to keep us happy and healthy, both physically and mentally:

These are certainly things that are important to me and I realise just how true this is now. What about you? Do you wish that you made more time for family and friends?

If you feel that this is something lacking in your life, look at the link for ideas to help you to have quality social times that make you feel happy and balanced.

You REALLY are the one in control of the decisions about how to spend your time.

Do you do things that you don’t want to do?

I come across so many people that struggle to say ‘no’ when asked to do something that they don’t want to. Once time has passed you cannot claim it back.

Use your time well.

Often, it’s a feeling of obligation or wanting to be helpful, or not wanting to create conflict, but be honest with yourself.

I started saying ‘no’ many years ago. It was tough to start with, but I found ways of doing it without feeling guilty and hopefully not appearing rude either.

Try different approaches:

‘I’m sorry but that’s not for me’ (may be more appropriate in a social situation, as opposed to when your boss asks you to do something!):

‘Can we discuss this please as I have the other priority tasks that you have already given me?’ (may be better for the boss):

‘Can you ask someone else first as I will not have an opportunity to do that until next week’:

Be honest, be clear and be direct.

Do others tell you what to do or advise you?

So often people are keen to tell you how you should spend your life or how to carry out a task.

In a work situation this may be necessary but there is often a time and place for advice.

I prefer people to ask for it if they want it, and particularly in social situations.

There are many ways of achieving the same thing and I believe that a person needs to be happy with the way that they choose to do that.

If you end up regretting spending time on something that someone asked of you, then how is that best use of your time?

How many times do you do the same thing with the same result, and you don’t want to be doing it any longer?

I reflect on my week-ends that were far too heavy on domestic chores.

How many of you have these same regrets?

By the end of the week-end I would think about what little time I had spent doing the things that I enjoyed. I regretted spending time on things that weren’t important to me and were not my priorities.

Do you often feel like this?

What do YOU think you should stop doing?

Stop procrastinating and deal with your problem of not having enough time.

The one thing that can make a difference is to actively make changes to the way you think.

For example: you can make different choices about what you do, how you do it and even if you do it at all!

Sit back for a minute and make your list of those things that are important to you right now.

Consider those tasks that you spend too much of your precious time on and which are not that important: maybe the little things you do to reduce that ever increasing job list, but which make no difference to those important goals in your work or life. They could be dropped.

And ask yourself that poignant question:

If you continue with your life as it is right now, will YOU die with your potential intact?

If you need some support in better managing your time and prioritising those important things in your life and at work, I can help with this.

I can help you to set clear, achievable goals and to act on them, to get you to where you want to be.

Think about doing something right now – no regrets!