Are you always late? Do you feel like you’re constantly struggling to get ahead in life? Are you spinning your wheels?
This has been my struggle for years. While I held my professional life together, I felt like my personal life was falling apart. My priorities didn’t align, and I felt like I was failing.
If your priorities and how you’re spending your time don’t align, it can feel like you’re a hamster running around and around a wheel. You may feel like you’re constantly wading through life and never getting ahead.
While some things will never go away (laundry, dishes, scrubbing spaghetti off the floor….all those things you just love to do), you’ll feel better about yourself (and your life) if you get a handle on matching your time to your values.
How to Make Your Time Match Your Values
Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. -M. Scott Peck
Establish your “time values”
The first thing you can do to make your time match your values is establish your values. Know what you want in life and create a plan to get there.
Just like you should make a budget to tell your money what to do, try making a time budget based on your values.
1. Create a list of your life priorities
Spend some time thinking about what you want in life. What is most important to you now? Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years?
2. Create a plan for your priorities
Based on your priorities list, think about what you’ll need to do to reach your goals.
For example, if one of your priorities is your family, think about how much time you want to spend with them. What does that time look like? Do you want to spend 20 minutes a day reading to your toddler? 30 minutes playing outside?
3. Create a list of your tasks
Make a list of everything that you do in a week. Be honest. Include the important things, like eating, sleeping, driving to work, etc., as well as the unimportant things, like poking around Pinterest every night.
4. Match your tasks to your priorities
After you’ve listed both your priorities and your daily/weekly tasks, match the two lists. Start by writing each of your priorities at the top of a paper (I wrote each one on a Post-It). Then try to list each of your tasks under your priorities.
5. Analyze your priorities/tasks lists
This is the not-so-fun part of matching your priorities to your time. Once you’ve finished matching your priorities to your tasks, take a look at your list.
- Are there any tasks that didn’t match your priorities? If yes, think about how you can stop.
- Are there any tasks that matched your priorities, but you’d like to spend more or less time doing? For example, one of my priorities is keeping a clean home. While I love having a clean home, I don’t enjoy spending my entire day scrubbing the floor and folding laundry. Figure out if there’s a way to streamline these tasks (or even consider delegating them).
How to make your time match your values
Savor the time that you have and maximize how you’re spending it.
Say no to everything that doesn’t match your values
If you struggle to say no to things like I do, learn to be ruthless, even if it pains you.
The cold truth is that no one will value your time unless you do.
If you have a hard time saying no, like I do, try reading this list of three simple ways to say no to everything that doesn’t match your priorities.
Prioritize and plan ahead
Planning ahead can make a huge difference when trying to manage your time. Creating a plan for every day will help you to use your time wisely.
Make a note of the three most important things you want to accomplish every day.
Before bed every night, I look at the next day in my planner. In addition to time blocking my day, I list my top three things to do the next day, like taking my son to the dentist or baking cookies for a party. I also have a spot at the top of my planner for things that I don’t want to forget, like birthdays or returning a library book.
It’s also a great idea to do a weekly review. When I was working outside the home, I spent a few minutes every Friday afternoon doing a weekly review and creating a plan for the following week. At home, I do a weekly review on Sundays.
During your weekly review, reflect on your week and make a note of everything that you hoped to accomplish and didn’t. What went wrong? Should you move those items to the following week or cross them off your list entirely?
A weekly review is also the perfect time to plan ahead for the following week. Take note of any set-in-stone appointments and deadlines. Also, make sure that your to-do list is manageable and that you’re carving out time for the important things in your week.
Where to find further reading on time management
If time management still seems like something you’ll never achieve, you may want to check out this list of further reading. I’ve read each of these and found them to be so helpful.
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
I’ll be the first to admit that I get tired of running myself ragged, feeling like I’m running on a hamster wheel. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode breaks down the areas of your life that need improvement. This book shows you simple ways to streamline your life so you can live the life you want.
I’ve also taken Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course and Make Over Your Evenings course. Both courses were extremely straightforward and get you thinking about how you can streamline your life and schedule so that you have time for the most important activities.
Eat That Frog
Eat That Frog has been at the top of so many productivity lists that I had to read it this year.
The main principle is to do your most difficult task first, but it also helps you change the way you view your to-do list. It’s filled with practical tips to be more productive (and stop procrastinating, something that I often need). 😉
The Morning Miracle
I am not a morning person (I’m more of a 1:00-3:00 p.m kind of person), but The Miracle Morning changed the way I view my mornings.
Instead of rushing through your morning and only waking up when you absolutely need to, like when the kids need to get out the door for school, this book teaches you how to reframe your morning so that you actually look forward to getting out of bed.
When you feel like you’re failing at life, start my making sure that your time spent matches your values. Match your priorities to your everyday activities and make sure that they align. If not, start ruthlessly saying no and rearrange your schedule so that you can make time for the things that matter.
Life shouldn’t be complicated. Managing your time is one of the most important things you can do to relieve stress.