I went for a walk with a friend a few weeks ago. She said her in-laws had asked what she wanted for Christmas. She sighed and said, “All I want for Christmas is time.”
She’s not alone. We’re working longer hours, concerned about the future, and struggling to check off our to-do lists each day.
The holiday season in particular is ripe with opportunity to feel overwhelmed and stressed by shopping lists, social commitments, family dynamics and the race to meet those annual goals at work.
Can we really give ourselves the gift of time?
The short answer: yes. When we view time as a valuable, non-renewable resource, we can start to organize our days, including our workdays, in a way that respects the limited time we have each day and give us some of those precious hours back to spend on family, friends, and making our world a better place.
Here are three steps to give yourself the gift of time this holiday season:
Know your why. As often as well all lament about never having enough hours in the day, it’s important to know WHY you want more time. Are you burned out and need to dedicate some hours to rest and self-care? Do you have kids at home who need your undivided attention, or an aging parent who requires your time and energy? Maybe you have a personal goal that you will only achieve if you reallocate some of the hours you’re focused on work. Knowing why you’re putting your nose to the grindstone at work will keep you motivated as you earn back some of those precious hours.
Have a plan. Once you know why you want organize your workday to cut out wasteful busywork and truly focus, you need a plan in place to deal with distractions that will inevitably find your way across your desk. Try tackling your most important work first, waiting to check your email or social media until after you’ve accomplished your highest priority. Time blocking can be a useful tool to facilitate focus: block off hour-or-two-long chunks of time to accomplish deep work, allow for creative work without checking email, and keep meetings to an effective minimum. Then, turn off your notifications and prevent interruptions!
Shut it off. If you’ve stuck to your plan and accomplished your most important work, when the end of the workday rolls around you can power down your computer and silence your cell phone so you can focus on what truly matters. Don’t let work creep into the time that you’ve worked hard to earn back. If you’ve planned well, you know exactly what you need to focus on tomorrow, and it can wait!
With these three steps, you can maximize your most valuable nonrenewable resource: time. Commit to giving yourself time for the things that matter most this month, and make it a priority to protect your new-found time in the New Year.