Regardless of upbringing, education or privilege, we all get 168 hours in the week. That’s it. Everyone from serial entrepreneur Elon Musk to the guy pouring your coffee at your local bodega – even Beyonce (who run the world?) – gets 168. So it’s natural to wonder why, despite having the same amount of time, some people achieve so much while others accomplish so little. Why is it that some people seem to be present for all their important family events while others always seem to miss them?
By the age of 30, I had five multi-million-dollar business success stories behind me and had spent more than a year traveling the world. And it comes down to this secret: The high achievers understand balance and know how to manage their time. I didn’t say, “They know how to work hard to make it then live the good life. That is not the key. Instead, they simply know how to manage and maintain a balance in regard to the one resource that, for most people, is in short supply: time.
Becoming someone who excels at balance and time management starts by recognizing you need a change. Here’s an exercise I do with my clients that always provides shocking and transformative insights. It’s basic, yet it never fails to deliver:
1. Take a piece of paper and break it into three sections. Name these sections ‘work,’ ‘home’ and ‘social relationships’ to denote the major areas of your life.
2. List every commitment you have and activity you must perform in each section, and approximately how much time you spend per week on those tasks. Don’t forget to include activities such as sleep, TV and time with friends. And be honest with yourself, otherwise the exercise won’t do you any good.
3. Analysis: What do you see?
The findings should be pretty obvious, and many people are shocked by their results. Often, they first discover that nearly 100 percent of their time is consumed by work. Next, they see that they spend little or no time with their family. Many also find that the time they do try to have with their loved ones is tainted by the exhaustion they feel from work and therefore spent staring blindly at the TV.
Think about where you spend your time. Is this the case for you?
- Is this what I want?
- Do I wish I had more time to spend with my family, friends, or pursuing something I’m passionate about?
Most likely, these questions are all you need to see that you’re not living the life you want. There was a point when I, too, worked all the time. But I saw I was neglecting things and important people. And I wanted a change. When you spend much of your time at work, and much of the remaining time answering work-related calls and emails, you can’t even enjoy the time you do set aside for loved ones. In short, your life isn’t the one you want to be living.
Rather than feeling enslaved by your job or business, focus on what you really want and learn to manage yourself effectively so that you can accomplish more without sacrificing precious time. You’ll be surprised just how easy it is, and making the decision to fully embrace time management is the biggest step.
Look to books like Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week and Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard’s The One Minute Manager. Using time management in your daily life is a journey; there are many skills to learn and habits to build – and they won’t all come immediately. However, any time you feel discouraged or frustrated, focus on what you want out of life, and you will be motivated to make the necessary changes.