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EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It’s a Matter of Time

How do you fit in all the things your really want to do in a busy schedule? MAPS MAPONYANE has learnt a few life hacks

If I ever had to compile a list of 2018’s FAQs asked of me about my daily operations, the question right at the top of that list would be, “How do you make the time?” And my answer, as vague as it may seem, is “I just do.” I would never kid myself by thinking that time management is something I have completely figured out, but I’ve learnt that by practising a few simple habits, I’ve developed something of a mental cheat code that allows me to be more aware of my time. I’m far more productive, and can get a lot more of both what I need and I want done.

For me, the biggest step in cracking the time-management code has been making the decision to steer away from what has become the trendiness of being busy, and to rather focus my attention on being productive. In fact, I’ve committed to erasing the word “busy” from my vocabulary entirely when describing my personal state of affairs. It acts as a constant and conscious reminder of never being busy purely for the sake of it. Another productivity hack is being deliberate and intentional with every decision I make.

I had a conversation with a company CEO on a golf course recently, and we were talking about how he finds time to do the things he loves while running a blue-chip company. He said he spends a little less time on tasks that don’t allow him to do the things he loves. He went on to share a few experiments he conducted at work with his employees after hearing how many of them were drowning in their workload. One of those experiments was to create a section for smokers that required clocking in and out during smoke breaks. After implementing this for a couple months, he found out that some of his employees were spending two hours a day on smoke breaks. That’s 10 hours a week, 40 hours a month, and approximately 440 hours a year (assuming a month of leave). This may be essential for many people to cope with daily stress … but who knows what they could do with just half that time – an extra 220 hours each year?

Are you really as “busy” as you say you are? Or are you just filling in the time gaps with no real intention, in the hope of making it through the day? I figured that, just as I would with money, I should draw up a budget of how I plan to allocate my time on a weekly or monthly basis. That way, I can clearly track exactly what I’m “spending” that precious commodity on.

Although social media is a big chunk of what I do, it’s easy to get lost and swept away into an abyss of time wastage that begins with set intent when I unlock my phone, and often ends with viewing a series of arbitrary videos and images that thieve time away without me noticing. I’ve begun limiting the unnecessary additional commitments that so frequently come from a place of guilt, and have tried to replace them with actions that will get me one step closer to my goals.

It may seem idealistic to state this, but you’ll be surprised at how making some relatively easy adjustments to how you ordinarily approach your daily activities can improve your levels of productivity. As it becomes habitual, you find yourself getting more things done than you previously would have – or simply find yourself with more time for the things you really want to do. It could be getting in shape, spending more time with family, reading more, or learning a new skill.

Be aware and be intentional – and it should only be matter of time.

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