A critical principle each of us must learn is the value of time. Time is far more valuable than money because you can never get it back. Money comes and goes but time just goes. Every time we place an obligation on our calendar we are writing a "time check" that we cash on the day and time it is written for. What we often forget is that our calendar is a fabulous tool to help us use our time most wisely.
Here is something to think about. A calendar is not just a "time to do list" to remind us of everything we have committed to. But that is how we often use it. We dutifully put our obligations on our calendar so that we don't forget them but that is not the primary purpose of a calendar. That is simply a to do list with a time and place attached to it.
A Calendar, rightly used is far more than this. It can be a fabulous tool to help us achieve our calling in life, our responsibilities at work, our marriage and family commitments and all of those things that are of importance to us. It is not a "time to do list." It is a sophisticated tool to help us achieve our goals in life. Let me explain.
Organizing our time
At its most simple, calendars help us organize the elements of our lives which are all time constrained. Like the filing system for our email, a calendar helps us to organize our time because we believe that time is valuable. Anything of value is handled with care and stewarded. If time is valuable we need to handle it with care and organized.
Prioritizing our activities
Not all activities are of equal value. But how do we ensure that we are focused on those activities of the greatest value? Here is a simple principle: Those things that are most important always go on our calendar before other things are added. This is true in our work, our family, our marriage or any other part of our life. This is far different than a "time to do list." It actually helps us schedule our priorities first because we want to live intentionally rather than accidentally.
Evaluating our spending
Not monetary spending but "time" spending. Think of your financial decisions. An analysis of our bank statement can tell us not only where our money is going but whether we are using our finances to achieve our financial priorities. If retirement is important but we are putting only a small amount into our fund, our spending does not reflect our priorities. In the same way, our calendars tell us in real time if we are actually spending time in a way that reflects our priorities. Thus our calendar helps us to evaluate our lives and commitments.
One way to use your calendar to determine your "time" spending is to color code your commitments so that you have a visual picture of where you are spending your time. It is visual management for your life.
Aligning our time with our values
Values represent what is important to us. My marriage, for instance is important to me. That means that my time commitments to my wife and the health of my marriage should be reflected on my calendar. If it is not, I need to realign my time priorities to align with my values.
Because our time commitments should reflect our values, wise people read their calendar often and as they do they ask themselves the question, "Am I spending my time in ways that reflect my values?" And, "Where do I need to realign my "time" spending? It is helpful to take scheduled time each month to examine ones calendar and ask these important questions.
Choosing to say yes and no
How often do we have a problem saying no? When we should! Your calendar can help you determine whether you ought to say yes or no to commitments that come your way. A great way to do this is to develop the habit of saying "Let me check my calendar and see if it fits" when asked to add something to your calendar. Don't answer on the fly. Rather, take a day or two, look at the time commitments you have and give yourself the freedom to agree or say no on the basis of how it fits into your priorities. Don't cash time checks you don't want to!
One final thought. There is a video from Bill Gates making the rounds entitled "Busyness is the new stupid." I agree. Yet we fill our schedules to overflowing and in the end get too little rest, think time, family time and live with fatigue and frustration. Use your calendar to manage your time so that you don't live in the tyranny of the urgent - at least most of the time!
TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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