Every day, I work off of a to-do list. I have career items, house chores, personal goals – everything laid out one week at a time.
But at the end of the week, it seems like I pushed off the career enhancing, tougher tasks and worked on menial, easy tasks. Don’t get me wrong – it all needs to get done. But why do I not have time to do it all?
Psssss, here’s a truth bomb: I DO have time for it all. I’ve have just been wasting time. Sigh.
Yes, we all have the same hours per week as Beyonce, but are we really living up to Queen B’s efficiency? Prolly not.
As you advance your career, time becomes even more scarce; managing your time with intention and strategy will make you an indispensable resource.
Today, I have a little treat for you. In the book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think*, Laura Vanderkam offers several strategies to “find” that missing time. Last Spring, I found these three strategies especially helpful.
- 100 Dreams
- Make a Career Plan
- Keep a Time Log
Descriptions of each exercise are found below. The key for me was doing all three because I first found out what I WANTED to do with my time, then I found the time to do it.
The goal of the 100 Dreams exercise is to flesh out what you really want in life: passions, skills, hobbies and activities that would make your dreams true. A few key points about listing our your 100 Dreams:
- Keep your list in an accessible place where you can easily add items as you think of them.
- The number “100” is meant to make you think hard about all of the things you want out of life. If you find that it was easy to list 100 items, go to 200. The number is meant to keep you thinking and adding your dreams as you go.
- Be sure to add dream items that you have already achieved. For example, I always wanted to graduate college, and although I have been there done that, I added it to the list. Those achievements shape the person I want to be, so it is important I keep those on the list as well.
- Dreams can be big or small. Whether you want to be the CEO of a large company or want to learn how cook a mean creme brulee, it all matters because it is about YOU.
With your time, you should be working towards achieving all of these dreams. By making them more concrete, you are more likely to prioritize your time and focus on them.
Make a Career Plan
Are you an avid planner? I am. I have planners, lists and workbooks all over my house. However, when I think about where I want to be in my career in five years, it is hard for me to realistically imaging what my life will look like. That is why a career plan is SO important.
I have provided a free worksheet here if you need a place to start. Jot down key career facts about where you are now, write out aspects of your career that you want to be in existence in two years’ time, then in the middle brainstorm activities that will help you get from Point A to Point B.
Note: You are NOT carving this plan in stone. Life happens. Being flexible and adaptable is actually really important when advancing your career, so give yourself that same wiggle room. As dreams and current positions change, update your plan.
Not unlike the 100 Dreams exercise, the goal of a career plan is to prioritize what you need to be doing to achieve your career goals. You will hopefully see some of the 100 Dreams items appear on this worksheet; and on your plan, you can get in-depth about what those dreams look like and how you will achieve them.
Keep a Time Log
Out of the three activities, this is definitely the most time consuming… but it is also the most insightful. Have you ever kept a time log for a week? I have. And it was EYE-OPENING.
Time that should have been used for developing my new online small businesses was being eaten up by television and social media. In that time, I could have been making inroads on many of my 100 Dreams and Career Plan activities.
There are tons of ways to track your time over the course of a week: handwritten notes, Excel spreadsheet, phone application, etc.. The point is, for a full week, you need to log your time as you go. If you wait until the end of the day to log the time, you will have a tendency to forget precisely where that time went (and you tend to favor productive activities instead of accurate ones). NO EXCUSES! If you think you have an unusual week, still track your time. If you put it off, every week will be “unusual” for one reason or another.
You can download a free Excel time log at our resource library if you want a starting point. At the end of the week, create categories that make sense for your life and analyze where your time was spent. See if that time is aligned with your 100 Dreams and Career Plan, then use a fresh planner to create your ideal week. Put external resources in place to help you stick to your plan, such as making appointments with key people, putting up a social media blocker for time slots and eliminating distractions such as Netflix at night.
Okay, how ya feelin’? Overwhelmed or ready to conquer your time? I hope it is the latter, because you can do this! Use these three exercise to identify your career priorities and find time in your week to focus on those priorities. Let me know how it goes!
And to download the Career Plan Worksheet and Time Log Spreadsheet, sign up for free for access to the resource library.
*This article contains an affiliate link for the book, 168 Hours! As a bookworm, I only recommend books I really enjoyed reading. I hope you enjoy them, to!