Have you ever seen someone who has a lot good things going on in their life? They’re really busy, and always seem to be achieving a lot, making an impact and improving themselves.  How do they have the time to do that?  They don’t have any more time than you do each day. Their career or family demands probably do not differ too much from yours.  The one thing these people understand is that value in protecting their time.

Here’s a reality check: our culture is sloppy when it comes to spending time wisely.  The instant, entertainment-focused world we live in wants you to spend your time with their content.  In fact, they design their web pages, videos, and articles in a specific way to keep you engaged with their content for as long as possible. They are trying to take your time away from you.

Furthermore, we are often conditioned to think that it is ok to let our life’s circumstances dictate how we spend our time. An example of this is the classic conundrum that every college student encounters on Friday afternoon.  Do you want to go to the bar with your friends? Or do you want to spend your time working out, studying, or making yourself better.  You might have had the best intentions of using your Friday evening wisely, but it’s much more popular to “live in the moment” and “go with the flow”.  Now, I’m not saying spending time with friends is bad, it’s actually a very necessary thing we all must do!  My point, however, is when you let your life’s circumstances, your feelings, or anything else dictate how you spend your time, you will never be able to achieve the level of success you ultimately want. To do that, you have to learn to be offensive, and protect your time.

The best thing I’ve done to help me protect my time is to build a “strategic calendar”. I sit down and map out everything I need to do for the next 3 to 6 months, I call these my “milestones”.  As a student, I will write down when all my exams are, when projects and papers are due, meetings I need to attend, etc. I will then work backwards from those times and start blocking off time on my calendar for me to accomplish my tasks. The weekend before a big exam, for example, I will put big bold letters that say “study weekend”, which is a signal for me that I cannot commit to doing anything that weekend because I have a lot of work to do. Once I’ve done that for my 3 to 6 months, I know have a game plan for how I will spend my time.  When my friends ask me to get a drink with them on Friday night, I already know if I have time to do that, or if I need to spend my time doing something else.  Try it for yourself.

Everything in this world wants a piece of your time.  It’s up to you to decide how you spend it.

Listen to Episode 3 of my Big Things Done Podcast to learn more.