Time management tips reach their peak of effectiveness when they enable you to undergo changes – sometimes, profound ones. You know just how tumultuous times can be. So, the more fully you comprehend how to create positive change in your life, the more productive your time planning will be.
Consider this 6-stage model of change, initially developed by Professor James Prochaska in 1997 to support people in overhauling their lives. Here is how you can apply this model to effectively manage your time choices:
1) Precontemplation Stage
Many profound journeys to restructure time begin with simple dissatisfaction. You know that “somehow,” something isn’t quite right. But you may have no idea how your own time choices interfere with your effectiveness.
Perhaps you blame others. Perhaps you feel there is something wrong with yourself that can’t be changed. But what’s important is that you realize you want to make a change! So the exploration begins.
2) Contemplation Stage
Once you realize that changes in how you use your time can be made, you still may be beset by self-doubts. Old patterns have trade-offs, after all. For every change you want to introduce, some other time choice must be let go. It helps in this stage to realize that you are the one in control. Take all the time you need to weigh the pros and cons. As you clearly identify what must be given up, you may find yourself more than ready to make the change. Affirm you can take things one step at a time.
3) Preparation Stage
Next, you can take an active role in deciding what time choices you want to incorporate into your life. This is an excellent time to review your values, and how they translate into goals. Often, it’s extremely helpful to prepare a set of short-term goals that you know are a comfortable stretch, but not a strain.
4) Action Stage
Once you decide on a new time plan, you take active steps to establish and maintain new time boundaries. Offer yourself lots of support, anticipate that problems will present themselves, and factor in plenty of time to problem-solve. When scheduling new activities, it is often wise to use the “Times 2 Rule”. Assume any activity will take twice as long as you think it will!
5) Maintenance Stage
In your eagerness to begin new activities, you may underestimate the effort it takes to schedule them in on a regular basis. Like New Year’s resolutions, the best intentions require a wealth of support to become fully integrated into your life. Plan on assessing your progress at regular intervals, and providing yourself with lots of validation. If you find it helpful to use the buddy system, trade support with friends as you work to put new time patterns to use.
6) Termination Stage
In this time management model, the termination stage doesn’t mean discontinuing your new activity. Continue to devote as much time as you need to maintain your new schedule. Update your time choices whenever necessary. If you successfully incorporate your new time habit into your life, it will become automatic. In that case, congratulations! You can build on your success, redirecting your energy to initiate a new time management project.)
Now, ask yourself: How can you start restructuring your time choices today to reach new levels of effectiveness?