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A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on my desire to be more present in my life. This has required me to implement some discipline around those areas that I believe are preventing me from being present.  Last week, I shared how I’m managing my email.  I got numerous comments which are posted on my website.  If you want to read my article or the comments from the article, you can find it here. The following article focuses on how I’m managing my time.

“Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” (credited to Jim Rohn).  While I know time is precious, I find managing it to be a challenge.  I set my schedule and then inevitably, something or someone will come up and I’m quick to give up the time that I’ve previously scheduled.  When I do that, I’m not respecting myself or my time.  Of course, there are times when I need to put aside what I’ve scheduled myself to work on and focus on a higher priority, but, there are plenty of times when I don’t prioritize my focus or my time.

Having time to focus on the right things at the right time is critical for what I do.  The amount of time I spent on something isn’t as important as the outcome.  So, focus is critical for me – just as I’m sure it is critical for you.

So, how do we create an environment that allows us to do that?  First, we need to reduce clutter from our work area.  I built my own desk, and it is a beautiful live-edge maple desk that goes across the entire front wall of my office, nearly 12 feet.  I face the front of our house and have a great view out the window into the trees.  However, 12 feet of space provides an abundance of opportunities for stacks and clutter.  So one of my goals is that I keep my desk clean and clutter-free.  The less clutter, the less chance of distraction.

I have also turned off all the notifications on my computer and my phone, and I don’t push my email (see blog titled “Email – Overcoming a List of Someone Else’s Priorities”).  I do provide the opportunity for people to text me if they need to reach me, but recently I’ve been turning off even those notifications for times when I need to focus.

I also schedule my time for those tasks that require my focus.  I’m not someone who likes a full calendar, but I’ve found that if I schedule my week with the tasks I need to complete in order to achieve my goals, I am less likely to fill my days with activities that waste time.  The tasks I need to complete are based on specific goals I’m trying to achieve, which come out of my goal-setting process, which is supported by my monthly overview and weekly wrap-up/planning activities (more on that to come).

I’ll be honest, completely scheduling my day is something I resisted for a long time, but once I started doing it, my productivity went up substantially.  Yes, there are times when I get off-track, but it is a lot easier to get back on track when I can check my calendar and see what I should be working.  It also establishes the habit of scheduling my upcoming week concurrent with my weekly planning at a time when I am focused on and motivated to achieve my stated goals and not get caught up in the trap of procrastination.

Scheduling time is like filling a glass jar with rocks.  Put the big rocks in first, then the smaller pebbles, and finally finish with the sand.  Imagine the big rocks are those projects that allow you to move toward achieving your goals, the small pebbles are tasks required by the job, and the sand is the filler – emails, non-critical meetings, lunch with friends.

What is in your jar?  A lot of sand – or some very meaningful rocks?