Our Most Precious Gift Is Time – How Can We Maximize It?

Precious Gift Time - How Can We Maximize It (C)

“There are three constants in life… Change, Choice and Principles.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

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Friday night, my husband Colin and I hosted a party for our daughter and her friends to celebrate their graduation from middle school and her ‘early’ 14th birthday. Although she planned a lot of it on her own, it involved a venue, food truck, photo booth and DJ, and therefore, it required a lot of both our time and effort for it to happen. Instead of looking at it as a ‘time grab’, I approached it as a time to bond with her. Friday during the day was filled with picking up food, picking up balloons, decorating, etc. just as I knew it would be. So, instead of planning my day and ‘squeezing’ the party plans into it, I left my day as ‘the party’ – anything else that got done that day was considered a bonus.

Do you think I maximized my time?

Before you answer this question, I want to us to consider the following few concepts about time management:

1) Lack of time is often reported as a stressor: No surprise, time pressures and stress go hand in hand. We all know that feeling of ‘running out of time’ – to meet a deadline, to finish a test, to get to an appointment, etc. This perception incites feelings of stress and anxiety where we tense up, maybe start to perspire and feel our hearts race. Essentially, we activate our “fight-or-flight response” which triggers a cascade of stress-related effects such as negative thoughts and emotions.

2) Using a “1,2,3” approach allows you to spend more time on what is important: I have discussed this concept in a previous post and it is very effective – Colin came up with it and now swears by it (and he is the best time manager I know). This approach requires us to truly prioritize what is important on a day-to-day level and shrink our to-do list into 3 daily priorities. As someone who used to keep a daily calendar and an exhaustive to-do list, I have realized the benefits of incorporating the two into a tangible, daily list.

The key is that it is tangible. It is so tempting to set our sights too high for a given day and end up feeling disappointed. Some days #1 and #2 will be work, leaving only #3 open for physical activity. Other days, appointments and/or family activities will occupy these spots. To further simplify your day, you might want to apply the “1,2,3” approach to work specifically so that you can outline some achievable work-related goals.

3) We often spend time on what is urgent, not what is important: Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People continues to be a source of inspiration for both Colin and I. His habit 3 “put first things first”, is covered in more detail in his book First Things First. The take home message is that we need to spend more time on what is important in life (also known as – quadrant II activities such as planning, personal development and relationships) and less time on urgent things (also known as – quadrant I activities such as crises and deadlines).

In the end, by focusing on our priorities and what is important to us on a daily (“1,2,3”), weekly and life basis, we are making the most of our time and spending it on what truly matters to us.

So, do you think I maximized my time?

I use this past Friday as an example of time management even though it seems like a lot of precious time went into the party both before and after. However, my take-away messages are as follows:

1) Time built around human connection is important, and therefore, a valuable use of time.

2) Using the “1,2,3” approach allowed me to fill all 3 spots with the party and not feel I was neglecting other things on my list.

3) Through our planning and preparation, we spent most of our of time in quadrant II, and therefore, never felt as though we spent any time in quadrant I with urgency and stress.

Have you been able to adopt a daily time management strategy that makes you feel as though you maximize your time?


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