It's About Time
“Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ~from Life's Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
The length of time it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun is called a year. The length of time it takes the Earth to rotate on its axis is called a day. Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a different number of hours in a day? Compare Earth’s time to the times on other planets:
Earth – Earth’s day is 23 hours and 56 minutes; its year is 365.25 days.
Mercury - The length of Mercury’s day is 58.6 Earth days; a year on Mercury is about 88 Earth days long.
Venus - A day on Venus is longer than its year, taking 243 Earth days to rotate but only 224.7 days to orbit the sun.
Mars - A year on Mars is 687 Earth days, but its day is almost the same length as an Earth day at 24 hours and 37 minutes.
Jupiter - Jupiter spins so fast that its day is only 10 hours long; the length of a Jupiter year is 12 Earth years.
Saturn – Saturn’s day is 10 hours and 41 minutes; its year is 29 years and 167.25 days.
Uranus – A day on Uranus is 16.7 hours; its year is 84 Earth years, 3.65 days.
Neptune - Neptune’s year is about 165 Earth years in length; a day on Neptune is 16 hours, 7 minutes.
Pluto – Pluto’s day is 6 Earth days, 9 hours, and 17 minutes; it takes 248 Earth years for Pluto to complete one orbit around the Sun.
What is your day like? It’s about 24 hours long, like everyone else’s. You have to eat and you have to sleep. What do you do with the remaining hours of your day? School, job, sports, friends, family, church, movies, TV, computer games? Which things are most important? What things do you spend more time on? Your answer to these questions can mean either success or failure. Of course, you can get the necessary things done first and still have time for some leisurely reading, a good TV program, fun with the family, writing a letter, surfing the web, or calling a friend – but only if you plan intelligently and stick to your plan.
A plan tells you exactly what you are going to do and when, and helps you to focus on your top priorities. If you are in command of your time, you won’t waste time trying to decide what to do first and you won’t be worried about what you’ve forgotten to do. Whether you use a Day Planner, Palm Pilot, pocket calendar, daily assignment notebook, or a plain piece of paper, a written list of things to do is essential. Crossing off items as you accomplish them will give you great satisfaction.
When compiling a to-do list, jot down all the things you have to do. Then decide what to do first, what to put off for later, and what to get someone else to do. Consider whether you do your best work in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Schedule the most difficult activities when you are sharpest. Break major projects into more manageable steps.
If you have a task that’s low in priority but will take only a few minutes to complete, get it out of the way quickly. Then move on to your higher priority tasks, while keeping your ultimate goals in mind. Challenge yourself to see how many different tasks you can get done in one day. Grouping similar tasks will make more efficient use of your time. Schedule an ongoing project for a certain time slot and get as much done on it as you can during that time each day.
Don’t set up a schedule that is too rigid and unrealistic. Remember that things happen to disrupt your schedule occasionally, so expect the unexpected and allow room for flexibility. However, you must learn to say "No" to other people. You can’t do everything. You need to be in control of your life, not let other people or things control you.
Two of the biggest personal time wasters are procrastination and perfectionism. Any time you spend in indecision, lamenting and worrying about everything you have to do, is self-defeating. Watch how quickly a stack of stuff disappears when you stop thinking about it and actually attack it. Some people never get things done because they decide to wait for a better time. Life isn’t perfect, however. You’re always working in less than optimal conditions. Just do the best that you can in a reasonable amount of time and then move on to something else. If you keep waiting for the perfect time, it will never happen.
Plan Tomorrow Today
Start your day the night before. At the end of each day, write down everything you want to accomplish the next day, in the order the tasks should be done. When tomorrow comes, you won’t have to decide what to do first. You can relax and drift off to sleep, knowing that you have gotten a head start on your next day. When you wake up in the morning, follow through on what you envisioned yourself doing, don’t waste time, avoid distractions, ignore interruptions, and get it all done. If your to-do list is no shorter at the end of the day than it was when you started, you’d better re-evaluate how you are spending your time. Try to eliminate unnecessary tasks that are not related to your goals or to a balanced lifestyle.
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