With mounting to-do lists, big projects with short delivery dates,
consuming workloads, growing obligations and festering unfinished tasks,
it's no wonder in this what-have-you-done-for-me-today world we often feel
time deprived. Work-life flows to home-life, balance becomes imbalance, and
goals and dreams get relegated to a closet shelf.
If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. In a recent "Winning at Working"
reader survey, the most commonly articulated work problem was related to
time. Overwhelmed. Overworked. Overstressed. Too much to do and too little
time to do it.
But here's the reality. No matter how much we do, we will never get
everything done. There isn't enough time for all that needs doing, all we
want to do or we'd like to do or we should do. There never will be, even
with the most sophisticated productivity, organizational and
time-management approaches. Sure, they're helpful, but thinking the chaos
and stress in life is caused by not having enough time is an error.
You see, the problem is not a time problem. We all have the same amount.
It's a choice problem. The choices you make determine whether you're
running your life, or your life is running you. And you do have choices.
Sure there may be consequences to saying no, establishing boundaries or
reordering priorities. But there are also consequences if you don't.
All tasks are not equal. All commitments are not equal. All
responsibilities are not equal. All clients are not equal. All people of
personal importance to your life are not equal. Yet many of us operate as
if they were. You can do fifty things today and get little, if any, result
for having done them. Or you can do one or two that bring a big return, be
it emotional, financial, physical or psychological. People who are winning
at working know the difference and operate accordingly.
They see time as life's currency and how it's used as a choice. Choices
shape your results and your life. You get the same twenty-four hours each
day as your co-worker down the hall. But use differs. Practice the piano
eight hours a day and you'll be better than people who don't. Practice and
hone your workplace talents and the same applies. Or spend time getting
ready to work, shooting the breeze, surfing the web, fiddling with email
and you'll complete the day having traded your time for minimal results.
How you spend your time puts value on what you're spending it on. For
years, I never had "time" to exercise consistently until a health issue
caused me to re-prioritize my choices. Funny how I managed to find the
hours when I had to. Choosing to eliminate an hour of television created
365 "found" hours a year. That's nine weeks.
People who are winning at working know this secret: there is always time
for what matters to them. So, they allocate their time carefully,
understanding their life as a reflection of their choices. They make time
for the people they love, the passions they have and work that uses their
uniqueness. They focus on the results, goals, and life-dreams they desire,
rather than accepting what comes their way. They do, while others talk of
doing. They plan their day, while others let their day plan them. And they
motivate themselves, while others wait for someone or something to motivate
them. For people who are winning at working, it's not about the time they
have; it's about the choices they make in how to use it.
© 2006 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
Receive a copy of 21 Winning Career Tips (a free download) at www.winningatworking.com.
Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit www.nanrussell.com.