We have smart phones, smart watches, smart cars, and even smart houses these days. But did anyone bother to tell you how to spend your time in a smart way? That's the irony in the word "smart" with all of these tools that should be improving the way you spend your life.
5 Ways to Spend Smart Time
The problem? No one bothered to give the lesson on living smart!
I've often pondered if the origin of the "Smart" products is related to the business concept of creating "SMART" goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. That would make so much sense. Again the problem? Most people don't know, understand, or follow the "SMART" methodology when they're tackling their day.
The outcome? People waste time using so-called smart tools without a strategy or connection to their goals; effectively wasting their time.
I don't have to tell you that time is fleeting. We can never get it back; and we're not promised more of it. The reality is that time is like the rarest of metals that is handed to us in servings. How we manage it depends on the next serving! To close the gap on living a smart life, here's 5 Quick Ways to Spend Smart Time:
#1 Define the Specifics of How Your Day Should Be Today
Most people muddle through their day with life happening to them instead of them happening to life. If you've not defined what you want to happen specifically today, it probably won't happen. For example, I woke up one morning to see a clerical error on a vendor payment. I didn't know why the error occurred, but it was impacting my family. I immediately sent an email discussing my concerns (at 5am); asked for a meeting once office hours were open; and expressed my desired outcome. Finally when I had the face-to-face meeting I said these very important words, "I'm not here to accept no". Be specific. I cannot stress this enough. On that day for me the most important way I could spend my time was resolving an issue that was impacting my family. It wasn't Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Solitaire, or any other app on my Smart Phone that day. I needed to be specific and stay focused on my specifics. You will not have a happy ending without being specific about your time.
#2 Measure the Success of Your Time Today
Measurement is like Castor Oil. It fixes a lot of stuff, but most people don't want to take it! Okay maybe not Castor Oil, but you get my point. As your day starts, have you considered what a "good day" means? What will happen in the day to make it the day you wanted? If you're in sales does that mean closing a specific number of deals? If you're a writer (hello) does that mean finishing chapters, edits, etc.? The great news is that you get to define EXACTLY what it means to measure your day. The bad news? Most people don't measure their day; but even sadder they let others define the outcomes in measurable terms! This is a biggie. If you don't measure your day and hold yourself accountable for your outcomes, you're leaving yourself open to other's measurements and judgments. Why would you do that? That's not smart! One of the best activities I've done for myself and with my clients is to have them write down their goals for the day on their bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. Leave it up all day, then check in at night. One of the "smartest" lo-tech apps you'll ever use! Bottom-line you need to lead the measurement of your day.
#3 Make Certain You Can Reach Your Goals Today
This one is a bit up for discussion. One of my business partners in the past - Landon Taylor, loved creating "BHAGs" - Big Harry Audacious Goals". These were goals that by design were "out of this world". It caused the person or group to think bigger, which made their drive bigger to reach their goals. I love the big thinking, but please make sure that your daily activities are attainable to reach those BHAGs! People can get overwhelmed by the good goals they have even more so than what the stress of unrealized goals can cause. You've got to be able to break down your big goals to bite-sized moments of time that you can do today. If you fail to break down your activities in this way, chances are you won't be dedicating enough or the quality of time needed to reach those BHAGs...and that's not smart!
#4 Make Certain you can Really Get it Done Today
There is a spectrum of attitudes toward tackling your day.
On the Left - the people who don't place enough on their agenda for the day. This is dangerous because ultimately you've set yourself up with not enough to do.
On the Right - the people who overload their agenda and stress about getting it all done.
In the Middle - The reality is that we're striving to be in the middle of this one and most people just aren't there.
Being realistic about what you can accomplish in a day is going to make or break your "Smart Time". With not enough to do, chances are you will spend your time working contrary to your goals. No plan is never a good thing when it comes to making your day a reality. Over planned can backfire and be a self-inflicting wound delivered to you via stress.
If you have a tendency to create a mound of things to accomplish in a day with no breaks, no moment of pause, and no balance; this will be a tough task for you. I speak from experience. I used to schedule my day with a "Possible-ism" instead of "Realism" perspective. If it was possible, I would try it. That meant ignoring signs of fatigue, stress, or other responsibilities. There is no victory in meeting one goal at the expense of your others. More importantly, it's just not a smart way to spend your time. Divide out what's reasonable and build in your balance. You'll sleep better and be moving forward on everything that matters to you.
#5 Have you Set the Time It Should Take Today?
Here's a whopper - it's the rabbit hole that you don't realize you're in sometimes! Ever looked up and realized you're wiped out because some small task took way longer than you thought it would take - and it screwed up your entire day? When this happens ask yourself these questions:
Did I underestimate the time I needed to allocate for this activity?
What did I overlook?
How can I avoid the rabbit hole again?
Did I set my time priorities correctly?
Did I adjust my time according to my goals?
Being time-bound in your day is critical...and I do mean C.R.I.T.I.C.A.L. to spending your time in a smart way. You have to know how much time you've allocated for each activity and work your hardest to stick with your time. Ever stop by a chatty person's office and they just kept talking, blowing your schedule? You can't let that happen! That's not smart. Time, yes you're beautiful smart time will get away from you if you allow it. It's no one else's fault but yours. Own your time. Reclaiim your Time. And be smart about the boundaries of your time. Tell "Chatty Patty" you're going to have to talk with her later!
How SMART have you been with your time? The good news is that your past time (smart or not) cannot be changed. Don't lament over time not spent smart. But do start now creating the Smart Time that's meant for you. And remember, those "smart tools" are designed to support you, not lead your life. You are still the leader of your life. So go lead and spend your time SMART!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer "drJ" Thibeaux is an American writer, speaker, and publisher. She has more than 20 years experience in people performance. Her leadership conferences, writings, books, audio works, and talks have motivated millions. As a retired social activist and researcher, "drJ' has taken the opportunity to connect with and impact lives globally through her projects and motivation driven products. Visit www.Thibeaux.org for booking information, getting & staying connected, and purchasing products.