How to Be Mindful When It Comes to Time Management

With all the demands of life, it’s easy to say “I don’t have time” when faced with the idea of doing something new. How many times have we all said it?

But is it true? Not always. 

In fact, many times it is rare that we literally don’t have time for something. When people track their time, they often find that big chunks of it are wasted. They discover that there isn’t a shortage of time, but rather that time is passing them by.

Why does this happen? Because a lot of us don’t consciously choose how we spend our time. We don’t manage our time wisely or prioritize the things we want to spend our time on. Instead, we are half awake, living on auto pilot, slipping into time sucks that don’t serve us.

Here are some examples of how we don’t consciously manage our time:  Your coworkers ask you to happy hour, and you say yes without thinking about it. Your friends suggest a potluck, and you commit, make a dish, and show up without really considering whether you want to be there in the first place. A loved one makes a request of you, and you say yes because you don’t want to upset someone you care about.

This is where mindfulness can help. Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment without judgment. And it can be an effective time-management strategy when applied to that moment when you choose how to spend your time.

How do you practice mindfulness when it comes to time management? Begin by asking this question:  How do you decide how to spend your time? Is it unconscious, or mindful? If it’s mindful, does it advance your goals?

I was at a workshop this past weekend with a presenter who has authored 15 books.  His secret? Consciously setting aside 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. every day to write and not letting other things get in the way.  I know, it sounds like a luxury, but how many hours would we all get back if we got in the driver’s seat and purposefully decided how to spend our time?

Sometimes the answer doesn’t sink in until you track how you spend each day. Here is an eye-opening, mindful time-management exercise I recommend to anyone who thinks they don’t have enough time: for one week, log how you spend each hour, and see where your time goes. You may be surprised by what you find.