I was running late.
I knew that I was in trouble after I hopped out of the shower and looked at my cell phone to see it frowning at me, lambasting me for being so slow to get out of bed in the morning. I pulled double time, though, and quickly dressed, gathered my things, and rushed out the door to make my bus before it pulled away. As I sat on the bus, I felt relieved. I was particularly nervous because every time I checked the clock I knew there was a possibility that I wasn't going to be able to make it.
Then it occurred to me: why did I keep checking the clock? What was I accomplishing by doing so?
We are all busy people: there's no debate about that. But there's a difference between what we do that takes up our time and what we do that's important to us. Here are some tips to make 2012 the year that you reclaim your time.
Prioritize what matters: In his book 18 Minutes author and consultant Peter Bregman recommends that you take 18 minutes every day to prioritize what matters to you. To increase the feeling that you have an impact on your world, focus your time on those things that resonate most with your values.
Be honest with your time wasters: Are your time wasters Facebook or CNN.com? Or are you distracted by a television while doing work that you feel "helps you focus" while really distracting you? Perhaps when you're late you keep glancing at the clock in a vain attempt to stay on time but doing so makes you later (*ahem*)? Whatever your time wasters are, get in touch with them and be honest with yourself about how they impact your productivity. Then work to correct them.
Try "Robot Mode": Create a list of your to-do items, and then-as dispassionately and unemotionally as possible-tackle that list with gusto, your only objective to remove the item on the list. Going into Robot Mode will diminish the cognitive dissonance that's associated with creating a list ("Look at how big that list is! I'll never get it done!") and help you get things done.
Let 2012 be the year that you take control of your time.