|Restoring Order™ :
Organizing Strategies to Reclaim Your Life™
Reclaim Time for Your Priorities
CBN.com The Time Management Myth
I don’t know who coined the phrase, “time management.”
There is really no way to manage time. We each get exactly 24 hours
in a day, and time keeps marching on, no matter how we choose to spend
it or what we accomplish with our allotted seven days each week.
But even though we can’t really manage time, we can manage ourselves,
our environment, our responsibilities, our choices, and our opportunities.
Time is simply the context in which we act. It is not something that
we can stretch or compress or truly manage.
The Time Management Myth gained such popularity in business schools
and beyond because it is built on universally admired virtues such as
productivity and efficiency. Who, in his or her personal or business
life, doesn’t want to be thought of as productive and efficient?
Certainly, productivity and efficiency have merit, and a multitude
of approaches to achieving them have sold truckloads of business books.
But when it comes down to making it through each day, productivity and
efficiency don’t really count for much if you’re not living
the life you really want.
I propose we stop talking about time management and start promoting
self management. We enhance our satisfaction and enjoyment in life when
we put first things first. We need to begin investing our time, energy,
and resources in priorities…the things that really matter to us.
No Quick Fixes
How-to books abound, offering an easy path to getting organized in
your life and business. Fortunes have been made peddling tips and tricks
that promise to bring order to your environment. People are grasping
for a sound byte or shortcut they believe will simplify their life in
three easy steps. The unfortunate truth is that there is no simple solution
or set of tips or one-size-fits-all plan that will solve all organizing
issues for every individual.
As a professional organizer, I’ve had the opportunity to observe
disorganized people from all walks of life, both in business and personal
environments, and to examine their reasons for change. I’ve concluded
that people change for two reasons: either they have reached a “point
of pain” with their chronically chaotic lifestyle, or they are
inspired by what would be possible in their lives if they were to become
Begin With Your Priorities
Some believe that time management is setting goals and agendas, breaking
tasks into manageable parts, and keeping lots of lists. Organizing your
day may indeed involve some or all of these strategies, but those who
succeed in ordering their time in a meaningful way begin by making room
for their priorities. Once they have identified the things that truly
matter to them, they can begin to organize around those personal priorities.
You may have hoped buying another fancy calendar would solve your time
management problem only to see important events continue to fall through
the cracks. You may have a spouse nagging you to manage your time better
and accomplish more. You may have a boss who is unhappy with your sagging
productivity. All of these circumstances might be the “point of
pain” that triggers you to change.
Pain certainly can be motivational, but I have found no more powerful
and lasting motivator than identifying and embracing your own priorities.
The payoff to getting organized is more than you might think. Most
people understand that organizing will help you maximize your time,
which indeed it will. However, achieving a “maximized” calendar
is not usually a compelling enough reason for most of us to keep plugging
ahead on our projects. Organizing your time and environment will take
energy and resources, so you need a reason to justify the ongoing effort
organizing requires. We all need to keep in sight why we are creating
and maintaining order. Organizing doesn’t just clear your space
and optimize your time; it helps you make room in your life for the
things that truly matter. The bottom line is this: ordering your space
and time will give you the ability to achieve your personal priorities.
Discovering Your Priorities
Once you know your priorities; they can become a powerful catalyst
Discovering our priorities requires introspection. Begin to discover
your own priorities by asking yourself; “What do I want my life
to look like? How do I want to spend my time?” Some of us have
set goals for the week or year but have never reflected on our personal
and professional priorities. Even if we achieve our goals, we still
may feel empty if we haven’t been living out the things that are
important to us. That’s we confuse goals and priorities. Goals
are finite and measurable and may be checked off a list. Priorities,
on the other hand, are our guiding life values and they are something
we continually strive for; they can’t be checked off a list.Here are some questions I recommend my clients ask themselves to determine
their own priorities:
- What are my values?
- What are my responsibilities?
- What is worth investing my time into?
- What are my gifts?
- How do I want to be remembered?
If we want to manage ourselves to our full potential, we must have
priorities that precede and pre-qualify our goals. A set of priorities
is a necessary measure by which our goals may be chosen and our opportunities
evaluated. If, for example, your priorities include a fulfilling spiritual
life, an intimate marriage, and deep personal relationships, then you
can manage your self by means choosing the activities that support those
priorities. If you never set your priorities in clear terms, then you
will have no point of reference for selecting the commitments and opportunities
that present themselves in abundance. Without priorities to guide your
decisions, your calendar will be overrun with obligations that don’t
fulfill your life.
Once you know your priorities, you can schedule the activities that
support them on your calendar. For example, if being an engaged, consistent
parent is a priority for you, then your calendar needs to show time
set aside for each of your children. That may sound simple, but your
own experience probably tells you that quality parenting is not something
you just “fit in” to your schedule when time allows; you
must schedule that priority. If you are not dedicating any time or energy
to one of your spoken priorities, then you have to question whether
it is really that important to you.
The real payoff to being organized is freedom – the freedom to
invest in your priorities. Organizing your time is about making room
in your personal and professional life for what is important to you.
When you live your life in a state of order, you can live on purpose,
and honor your priorities.
Is it time for you to get inspired by what’s possible in your
life? I invite you to begin discovering, scheduling, and honoring your
priorities. You can live the life you want, starting now!
Adapted from: Restoring Order™ copyright © 2006 by Vicki
Norris (available now at www.RestoringOrder.com and in July 2007as Reclaim
Your Life™. Copyright © 2007). Published by Harvest House
Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.
About the Author: Vicki Norris is an expert organizer, business
owner, speaker, television personality, and author who inspires people
to live out their priorities. Norris is a regular on HGTV’s nationally
syndicated Mission: Organization, and is a recurrent source and contributor
to national lifestyle publications including Quick & Simple magazine,
Better Homes & Gardens, and Real Simple magazine. Norris is also
author of Restoring Order™ to Your Home, a room-by-room household
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