I talk a lot about time-choice management. When I’m working with my clients, it’s one of the first things we address. Good time management practices can equal good stress management too, since you’ll be a lot less stressed out when you have time to do the things that matter to you!
But what IS time-choice management, exactly?
Values + Choice + Good Planning + Action = Time-Choice Management
Every day we make choices based on our values. For example, we might choose to attend every one of our kids’ soccer practices. Or, we might choose to alternate carpooling to practices with a group of other busy parents. We might choose a trade-off: we work during practices, but go to every game. Our choices can help us find balance in our daily lives.
Depending on your schedule and your other priorities, you can come up with a balance that works for you by using the time-choice management formula. By assessing your Values, you make a choice: maybe you have to work during practice times, but because you do so you have the entire weekend free for family time.
Good Planning means that you perform the tasks you’ve scheduled in the time you’ve allotted for them, so that you don’t have to squeeze them in later and shift around other valued activities. And Action means doing what you’ve planned, when you’ve planned it. Not that your schedule should be inflexible, because sometimes important things do come up—but when you’ve scheduled an activity, you should do your best to perform it in the time you’ve dedicated for it.
You can also use the Time-Choice Management formula in reverse. This is especially helpful if your schedule fell apart on you. If you missed that Saturday game because you had to catch up on work, ask yourself why that happened. What was the action that necessitated a change in your plans? How could you have used better planning to avoid the time crunch? What choice did you make that led you to take that action? What value did you fail to honor when you made that choice? Chances are, if you ask the right questions, you’ll learn how to avoid scheduling conflicts, stress, and unnecessary guilt in the future.
Sometimes, you’ll be faced with a situation where two competing values require the same block of time. For example, you’ve got a strict deadline to submit a proposal that could score you the biggest project of your life—but your daughter is in a play, and you promised her you’d be there. When this happens, it’s time for some serious negotiation. Maybe you’ll say, “My deadline is tomorrow, and there’s no way I can afford to miss this opportunity. I’ll skip the play, but with the money I’ll make on this project I’ll be able to take the family on vacation, and spend a larger amount of quality time with them.” Or, maybe you’ll say, “I have three more days to finish the proposal. An hour at the play will mean so much to my daughter. I can get up extra early tomorrow to make up the lost time?” Based on the individual situation, you should be able to make a choice you’re comfortable with if you weigh the options according to your values.
We all have the same amount of time. We can choose to spend that time however we want. It’s the choices we make, and the good planning we implement, that allow our actions to move us forward into a more balanced life. How’s that for a formula?