I spent a lot of time in the ’90s reading every book in existence on the topic of time management. Every. Single. One. (To say nothing of books on topics closely related to time management: clutter control, simplifying your life, etc., etc.) I wanted to be uber productive! I had an empire or five to build! I wanted to make time my bitch! And I’m nothing if not a dedicated student. So after hours of studying and contemplating and testing out every method known to humanity, what I realized was this: the best way (the only way) I could make time my bitch was to start paying attention to how I spent my time and how I thought about my time.
People are always looking for a way to get a better handle on their time, in order to get more done, become more successful, feel more accomplished. And yes, of course, there are plenty of methodologies and philosophies that will get you on the right track. But whether you turn to technology or Barnes and Noble or your favorite blog for help, if you are not paying attention to your life and your time, and to what you’re telling yourself about time, you will be time’s bitch and not vice versa.
(For as far back as I can remember, my dad has always said he doesn’t have enough time. He’s almost 70 now, and he claims to still not have enough time. I don’t want that for myself. I want enough time. So, for starters, I don’t say that I don’t have enough of it!)
Anytime I want to make a change in my life, I get super-observant and start taking notes. How am I spending my time? If I organize and record my activities, I can see where I’m losing time and take back those lost minutes. Making to-do lists helps me get a grip on what needs to happen, and then everything I do can work toward getting those things done. It simplifies your life, gives you a focus so you’re not wasting your time on activities that don’t matter. I see it as a spiritual practice, even: When I’m feeling exceptionally messy, I get exceptionally mindful and hyper-conscious. I slow down. I fold the blanket, make the bed, fold the towel on the towel rack. If I can focus on how each moment is being spent, I can make them all count. Sometimes, I’ll even make a game out of it, taking “chore breaks” to see how much I can get done within a set time. If you’re motivated by competition, you can trick yourself into getting more done by making it a goal to beat your previous accomplishments.
On the other hand, there’s that one thing that we all have – the one thing that totally screws up your day. For me, that’s getting up late. So I get out of bed the first time the alarm rings, no matter what. I’m up and at it and ready to go, and I avoid totally screwing up my day (and days are so much nicer when you haven’t totally screwed them up right at the start, aren’t they?). I know that I’m scared of being late, so I use that to my advantage – it motivates me to hurry up and get things done ahead of schedule. I know if I’m not organized, I’m going to fall behind, and with that deadline chasing me, it gives me that extra push to get ahead of everyone else before I can get stressed out.
All that time wasted running around, flustered and unsure of where the day has gone, is just a sign that you’re time’s bitch. But when I get up early and pay attention to how I’m spending my day, I find myself in charge of my own time. If you train yourself to just pay attention, it will be obvious very quickly where your day is going. Once you know that, it’s a simple step to be more mindful, focus on your energies in the right places, and make time your bitch, too.
“Secured Time” image by Mattias Karlsson, used under a Creative Commons license.
Erika Lyremark (Lira-mark) teaches women entrepreneurs to build their business confidence, clout and cash. She coaches, inspires and motivates them with her easy-to-follow, hard-to-forget signature courses: The Morning Whip and Hustle Your Business Boot Camp.
Erika’s entrepreneurial track began while she worked as an exotic dancer for nine years. Après-pole, she went on to co-create a multi-million dollar commercial real estate company and launch Daily Whip, her coaching consultancy.
She’s been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes.com, The Sydney Herald, The Michelle Tafoya Show — and she even cracked the whip on a promotional video for Oprah’s Have Your Own Show! Erika is also the author of the forth coming book, Think Like A Stripper: How To Hustle Like You Mean It!