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Control Your Time, Control Your Life

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to accomplish many tasks. Although computer technology promised us far more “free” time to enjoy life, most people are still juggling multiple tasks and wishing for more time to get more things done. This can lead to increased stress, which isn’t healthy, and unachieved goals, which can be frustrating.

Time management expert and author, Alan Lakein, said, “Time is life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” Similarly, I would like to add, “Control your time and control your life.” Taking control of your time begins with effective time management. Ultimately, time management becomes your plan to get everything done and still have some of that “free” time to do with what you please. And you can use martial arts training to provide some of the tools you will need along the way!

The first step in taking control of your time is to recognize that there are two main categories of activities on which your time can be spent. The first is business, which is your job or school if you are a student. If you are a homemaker, then that is your business. The second category is personal, which is everything else. Each of these categories can have many subcategories as we will discuss in step four.

The second step is to allocate a block of time for business and a block of time for personal use. A friend once told me to forget about “24 hours in a day” and focus on the bigger picture, perhaps a week. Interesting, I thought, there are 168 hours in a week! How much time do you want to devote to business time? If you work for someone else, your answer may be totally or partially predetermined. Regardless, you should factor in all activities related to work, such as your commuting time, bringing work home, continuing education and even time spent on time management. Then consider the rest of the time as personal time. This usually includes sleep, bathing, exercise, eating, household maintenance, personal relationships, recreation and, again, time management.

Once you determine how much time you want to spend for business and personal activities, your third step is to develop a plan or schedule of when you are going to be doing what you do. For example, if you allocate 60 weekly hours for business, then you should determine when those 60 hours are to take place. Your schedule may fluctuate from week to week but you need always to deploy a plan of when you will be spending your 60 hours for business. Do the same for personal time and you’ll be surprised at how much “free” time is available to you. It is also a good idea to schedule some miscellaneous time that can be used for either business or personal time if you experience unexpected requirements.

The fourth step is to make a list of all the tasks you are responsible to complete. Label each task as high, medium or low priority. For your personal time management plan, sleeping, eating and bathing should be obvious necessities and you should give yourself adequate time to complete them. But how many times have you pulled an “all-nighter,” skipped a shower or grabbed a non-nutritious snack because you had to meet an important deadline? An effective time management plan can help you avoid these periods of chaos. In business, accomplishing high-priority tasks is essential to success. Fill your schedule with high priority tasks first, giving them the bulk of your attention. Then add medium-priority tasks with a medium amount of time followed by low-priority tasks with a low amount of your time.

As a basic rule, if possible, you should delegate all your low priority tasks and some of your medium priority tasks so that you can focus on those of high priority. If you find it difficult to complete even your high priority tasks in the allotted time, then you must also delegate these or work with others to complete them. According to Gregory P. Smith’s article, Are You Managing Time or is Time Managing You? “A person who refuses to delegate will very likely be a very busy and frustrated person.”

Martial arts training is a valuable tool that can help you manage your time more efficiently. For starters, the martial arts helps reduce stress and enhances your ability to be patient. Patience is a key attribute of a good time manager. Martial arts is part of your personal time. It provides you with a routine of needed exercise and builds the discipline to focus on high-priority tasks. The discipline of the martial arts enables you to focus on high-priority tasks and to get them completed.

So start today and make a plan to organize your time. Write it down, implement it and analyze it until it works. Don’t forget to make time for your martial arts training so that you can attain many of your highest personal priorities—self-defense knowledge, better health and fitness, self-confidence and a black belt!

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