It was my first day home from college for the summer break. I remember everything about that day because it changed my general approach to life. As I pulled up in front of our home, I saw my neighbour’s enormous and beautiful house up for closure. I could not believe it, because they had never seemed to lack anything. They even owned a restaurant chain in the city.
I rushed into our house and asked about the Johnsons and why their home was being closed. My dad shook his head and looked at me sadly. “Mr. Johnson suffered a stroke that has left him paralyzed for some time,” he said.
This news made me miserable. Mr. Johnson was a friendly man who always had a kind word for everyone. I turned to my dad and said, “Daddy, I don’t understand. What has that got to do with their house?”
“Well, Mr. Johnson has not been able to work due to his health, and he took a bank loan a while back. He had put up his house, among other assets, as collateral for the loan. Now it’s due for repayment. With the cost of his treatments, alongside his inability to work, the bank decided to put the house up for sale.”
“Wow!” I exclaimed in disbelief.
I decided to pay them a visit the next day since they were still at the house. When I got there and had exchanged pleasantries with everyone, Gloria, Mr. Johnson’s wife, called me aside and quizzed me regarding school, my grades, and my friends. She wanted to hear all about my school escapades. We talked for hours, laughing like long lost friends who had met for brunch.
Suddenly, she got so serious that I wondered if I had stepped out of line with something I said. She then asked me to follow her into her study, away from the ears of the other occupants of the house.
As I settled into the chair next to hers, she stared at me. It was pretty clear that she was lost in thoughts. At last, the piercing sound of her phone’s ringtone jolted her back to reality.
After her phone call, she leaned across to me, touched my cheek and said, “I remember when I was your age.”
She had a big smile on her face, but a regretful look filled her eyes when she said in a voice that trembled.
“I was so full of dreams and goals for myself. Then I got married and got busy with my children and my family. I knew that I really liked designing clothes, but I never got around to it because there was always something I needed to do for the family. So, I got comfortable and settled for living that way. Even when my kids got older and I had more time to myself, I felt too old. How was I to become a novice fashion designer when tons of younger ones existed?
Right now, if I could rewind the hands of time, I would take out some time to do the things I love. Not just because of my present predicament, but for the fulfillment that comes with it.”
Before she fell into a long, thoughtful silence, she said wistfully, “If I only knew of a way to effectively manage my time.”
It has been more than ten years since I had that conversation with Gloria but it seems like it was yesterday.
There are no words to fully describe living the life of your dreams; it is something one can only experience. The feeling is definitely worth the entire struggle. But having children requires most of your time and attention, so does your professional and social life.
Work makes it possible to follow your passion and feel more fulfilled. Work may also leave you feeling overwhelmed, guilty about not being there for your children or partner, or too busy to enjoy a social life. However, if you effectively manage your time, you will have more to spend with your loved ones.
Effective time management encompasses what you spend your time doing, where you spend it and who you spend it with. What matters is not the amount of time we have but how we use it.
Effective time management is a skill that so many desire but few people have.
How to effectively manage your time
Know and set your goals
Ensure that you are engaged in activities that are in line with your short and long-term goals. Your daily plans should revolve around working on tasks and activities that directly relate to your goals. Sometimes, we think we already know what we want even though we haven’t set our goals down on paper, in our journal, or in a diary – whichever you use. This is wrong because setting clear goals involves writing them down, as opposed to setting them in your head.
To achieve effective time management, organization is crucial. You must get organized in order to properly manage your time. To get organized, first set your goals and then separate them into long-term or short-term.
Do not procrastinate
Procrastination is one of the biggest deterrents to our dreams and goals. Whenever we say we want to accomplish something and fail to do it, we successfully embrace procrastination.
Prioritize your time
In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey explains a system for managing time. He splits activities into four quadrants based upon two factors: urgency and importance. Your day’s activities can be grouped into these two factors. They are as follows:
Quadrant 1 – Emergencies and Crises: Urgent and Important
Quadrant 2 – Long-Term Goals: Not Urgent but Important
Quadrant 3 – Interruptions: Urgent but Not Important
Quadrant 4 – Distractions: Not Urgent and Not Important
If you spend your day watching television, you are living in Quadrant 4: not urgent and not important. To effectively manage your time, you must spend as little time as possible in that quadrant. Sometimes we do not see how much time we spend on unnecessary things until we break it down. In the beginning as you strive to apply this method, it will challenge you. That’s because you will be aiming to break existing patterns and form new habits while learning to exclude activities that are important to other people from your decision making. Your “important” quadrant is always made up of the tasks that have great bearing on your life.
To find out more about how you can effectively manage your time and increase your relationship with your kids and make a big difference click here to download my free e-Book on 5 Simple Steps On How to Change Your Daily Routine and Stay Connected with Your Kids Every Day