Is it possible that you are (at least partially) responsible for your hectic, over-scheduled, and downright crazy schedule? Some of your time pressure is legitimate. You have HOA meetings to attend, kids that need a ride to soccer practice, household chores that need to be finished, and a host of other responsibilities. But studies show that we have more leisure time now than we have in the past.
While you may have more “leisure” time now than before, it won’t feel like it if you fill your free time with activities that aren’t enriching. Still, the challenge is freeing up more time in an environment where it feels like there are more and more demands on your time.
If you look closely at how you spend your time and discover that you may be your own worst enemy, try the following two strategies:
Don’t be a time slut. If you’re the type of person who can’t say no to favors and requests, others will take advantage of you. If you sacrifice your other 8 hours to benefit someone else, they will keep coming back for more and more until you’ve got nothing left to give.
So wise up! Make it your policy that your default answer is, “I’m sorry, I just can’t help you with that.” If that’s too strong, follow it up with “because I’m working on a deadline, have a previous engagement, late for an meeting/appointment, taking care of my sick mother, getting checked for a rare and contagious disease, etc.” Whatever you say, you’ve got to have a sense of urgency in your voice, and you’ve got to extract yourself from the conversation as quickly as possible by saying, “Let’s catch up soon though.”
Be more like the Governator. You may have heard that the Federal budget deficit is over one trillion dollars. That means the federal government is spending a whole lot more than it receives in taxes. This is similar to someone who gets into credit card debt. Few know this, but state governments can only spend as much as they make. If the Governator wants to add a program, he has to subtract the money from somewhere else. This is called pay-go, as in you pay for things as you go.
Your job is to adopt a “pay-go” type of policy with your time. Before you agree to join a non-profit board, train for a marathon, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, help a friend move, start a Bible study, take a night class, or help your neighbor have a garage sale, you must eliminate that time from something else. Picture a balance that you need to keep level. If you add something to your schedule, you have to subtract something to keep it in balance. This will help protect your time by forcing you to limit your commitments.
I preach that the way to create new wealth and purpose is to invest your other 8 hours. You might not have 8 hours, but you probably have more time than you think. Abstain and Balance to free up more time so you can start a business, write a book, or create something.
Robert Pagliarini writes for CBS MoneyWatch and is the author of three books including the latest, The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth and Purpose. For a limited time, you can download several free resources (assessment, poster, audio interview, video, and more) from the book at www.other8hours.com. Copyright 2009 CBS Interactive, Inc.
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