Managing Time Involves Clarity About Your Priorities

Technology has transformed our perception of things. All sorts of information are readily available at the push of a button. You want to know how to cook just Google the name of the recipe. You want to learn how to repair your water tap go on YouTube. Our minds are constantly assailed by information every minute. Our privacy is constantly under pressure with the use of Smartphones: emails, What’s App?, BBM, etc. Has there been a day when you feel that you can totally ignore your Smartphone, Ipad, laptop?

You wish that it would be as simple as turning them off and not even feel guilty about it. Well, some of you have been courageous to take that first step and feel totally liberated or completely stressed out… Remember the time when there was no internet. Some of you can’t even picture it as you were too young. They were the times when a friend meant somebody whom you have actually met, talked to and shared many things together. When you wanted to know what was happening overseas, you had to buy the newspaper or waited for the TV or Radio news broadcast. Those were the days!!! You must be thinking where is she going with all this? Is she becoming nostalgic all of a sudden?

Our time management skills are constantly being challenged. There is a constant need to review your list of “To Do things” every day or sometimes every hour. At work, you are sometimes unable to complete what you have started due to more pressing matters. Being the perfectionist, this unfinished task is nagging you at the back of your mind. At home, there is always a list of things in progress – the laundry, the gardening, the food shopping list, the children’s homework. The list is endless. In the midst of all this, finding some “me time” makes you feel guilty or become a real luxury treat!

Effective time management is about setting your priorities in the right order. Right order does not mean those with the highest amount of pressure. Pressure is something that is perceived and constructed in your own mind. Your top priorities are those that are congruent with your values, norms and beliefs. There is a simple exercise that you can do on your own.

1. Your priorities list
List all the things that you would like to be able to do in the different areas of your life. For each one of them, what is the motivation or reason for you to include it in your list?

2. Arrange them in order of importance.
What impact would it make to your life if you achieve each one of them? What are the payoffs for you to put time and effort into realising them?

3. Testing your determination.
Now, you are going on a trip in a hot air balloon. Each one of your priorities is going to be stored in a box. Each box is of equal weight and size. As the hot air balloon rises, you can see, what it would be like if you were able to achieve your priorities. What images, feelings come to your mind? What would it sound like if you were going to sing about it?

You are now as high as the clouds and suddenly the winds become stronger. The burner flame weakens and the hot air balloon starts to descend dangerously. For you to survive, you would need to decrease the weight of the wicker basket. This is a life and death situation. It is either you or the boxes.

What would you take out first? Remember each priority box is of the same weight. You are told that you are able to keep only one, maybe two. As you let go of each box, what happens? What makes it difficult or easy to let go?

4. Reassess your priorities list
Are they still the same? If yes, then your perspective of life is congruent with your lifestyle. If not, there is always time to re arrange your priorities and to make the desired changes. What have stopped you from doing them? What steps can you take right now to start the changes?

5. Review your lifestyle according to your final list of priorities.
If you have chosen “being healthy” as your no 1 priority, do you spend time looking after yourself? What would it mean to be healthy? Are you actually doing them?

The hot air balloon exercise can be used to test how strong your values are, what are the main priorities in your job search or career choice. The outcome of the exercise changes over time and it is recommended to do this exercise occasionally.