Finding Time

How do you keep track of your schedule? This is something that I’ve discovered that I’m terrible at. Though I tend to be very punctual, I never seem to effectively schedule my time, and often wind up with overlapping appointments if left to my own devices. Thankfully, my wife is great at it and is fine with being the person that keeps me on schedule. Also, having a digital calendar that she can input to and I can see helps as well.

I’m probably not the only one that’s bad at managing a schedule. If I were, there wouldn’t be so many books about it and products designed to correct it. In fact, 2 of Amazon’s top 10 self-help books discuss it in part, and 2 others are about it. It seems like a popular subject. Let me offer the things that I’ve learned about it.

  • If you don’t have a schedule, you won’t be successful.
    To properly achieve on a goal, you have to dedicate large portions of time to it’s process. If you have no schedule, you’re more inclined to act on whims instead of goals, so that time will be disbursed instead of focused. Without the focused effort and time, the goal will fade into the unreachable.
  • Every goal can be achieved through incremental steps.
    You ought to have a plan to achieve your goals. If you do, that plan probably has some steps (yeah, I know, it seems obvious, but bear with me). You need to make sure you’re doing those steps in order and allotting them enough time. The simplest way to achieve that? Schedule them in order.
  • Success is scheduled.
    If you’ve properly set your goals, you’ve set a date you want to achieve them. How are you supposed to hit that date if you don’t have it scheduled?
  • You need to make time to fit in everything important
    By setting a schedule, everything fits. If you try to attack things as they come at you, you’re likely to miss much of what’s important. Here’s a story to illustrate the point.

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2″ in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous – yes.

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour their entire contents into the jar – effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, and your children – Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, and your car.

The sand is everything else. The small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.

“Take care of the rocks first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”

It is the ability to manage your time that will determine whether or not you are successful in the areas you want to be successful. Make it a priority to schedule in what matters.

The comments section is open today, so feel free to share your methods with us. Here’s a great idea in development from a company called Vitamin. This London-based design studio shared their incredible idea for time management with Kyle VanHemert at Wired magazine so he could share it with all of us. Make some time to check it out, will you?

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.