Time Is On Our Side
by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims
Before his date to retire, Marshall counted the days. He had been contemplating it for months. He planned to go to the library and read for hours; he wanted to plant a vegetable garden. He would spend time with friends, teach his grandchildren woodworking skills, learn a foreign language, and volunteer at his church. As he put it, he wanted to sing his song.
But having retired, things were not working out well. One of his projects was to write a book about his life, an important legacy he wanted to leave his family, but he never got far because his daughters would call, a repairman would arrive, or he had to get the oil in his car changed.
Where does all the time go? he wonders after trying his new lifestyle for seven months. Then he says what he has heard many other retirees say, “How did I ever have time to go to work?”
The worst part is he feels incompetent. He remembers when he used to be productive in the workforce and the satisfaction it gave him. If he keeps frittering away his days, he is afraid he will be too old to do all of the things he wants to do and he will leave his song unsung.
Retirement forces people to abandon the idea that it is the job that has been holding them back. For most people the depressing truth is that they have never learned to be organized, disciplined, or motivated on their own. On their jobs they were not solely responsible to be self-starters or self-motivators. Nor did they have to set up their own schedules. The job, with all of its preset requirements, did that for them. A day on the job is more easily organized than a day at home.
Marshall had envisioned his retirement filled with activities that were both enjoyable and significant. Instead, he found himself picking up cleaning, unstopping the toilet, reading the newspaper, watching afternoon TV, and buying groceries. The weeds of everyday living were choking out the activities he had dreamed of doing. As he faced the end of his journey, he was beginning to wake up to the fact that he needed to learn and apply time management skills to his life if he was going to sing that song.
We need to emphasize two basic facts before we continue:
1. The focus of time management is priorities and stems from self-management. Self-management is the powerhouse of time management. Self-management makes it happen. In reality you can’t manage elusive time but you can manage the very-much-in-the-now you.
2. Techniques, tricks, systems or whatever you want to call real time management know-how can be very valuable. Some books downplay organizing systems and indicate that if you have enough focus and self-control, youÕll be okay. Not so. You need good skills as well.
To make time work for you, you need systems. Without a system, things fall apart. You may have several systems and life is going along swell until you hit a spot for which you have no system. When that happens, you need to develop a new one.
1. Briefly tell the story of where you are in the area of time management. Which of the stories above sounds the most like you?
2. Look at the following list and check the areas where your time is out of joint. Add others if you wish.
family lifeother relationshipscareereducationhousehealth
3. What do you already do well? Laundry, dishes, filing, for example.
4. In what areas do you need to do better? Bill handling, getting out of the house on time every day, for example.
1. Control your time. Don’t let time control you.
2. Be realistic about how long a task will take by timing what you do and writing it down for next time.
3. Locate specifically where you are running into trouble timewise and concentrate on fixing those places.
4. Focus on solutions not problems.
5. Group your activities and you will save time.
Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims, Organizing Your Day: Time Management Techniques That Will Work for You, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2009. Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.