By using your clock to support your goals, it can become your best friend.
These insights can help you get started:
Realize the power of 30 seconds. For instance, if your house is piled with clutter, think about this: Failing to hang up a coat, neaten a desk or keep a room tidy happens when we skip the quick chores. By playing a game to see how often you can use 30 seconds constructively will add up to a neater environment.
Exercise in 15-minute time frames. Most of us can find 15 minutes twice each day to ride a stationary bike, jog in place or take a quick walk.
Go to bed and get up at specific times. This creates a rhythm to your life. Going to bed at 10:30 p.m. and getting up at 6:30 a.m. is one choice. Conforming to the clock will create structure for your entire life. Ignoring the clock by just a few minutes can throw off your schedule continually.
“I’ve learned to utilize time in 15-minute increments,” said a mother of four we’ll call Shannon. “If I need to take control of anything, I know that I can gain power by looking at ways to grab time.”
Shannon spends three separate 15-minute time slots each day to straighten her house. Before work, before dinner and before bed, she tackles 15 minutes of cleaning and clutter. This 45 minutes every day has helped her make progress.
Every goal in life will likely stand the best chance of being realized by pairing it up with the clock.
“When I was a stay-at-home mom with my first two kids, I wasted a lot of time,” says a ballet instructor we’ll call Shelley. “When I look back, I wish I’d forced myself to take a college course or learned a new language. I ignored any type of schedule.”
Recouping lost time is not impossible, but it gets harder as we age. Failing to exercise until you’re 45 or failing to learn to cook nutritious meals until you’re 60 can affect your quality of life.
When shopping, cooking, exercising, working on finances and reading, for example, it pays to fit these tasks into certain time frames. Both the calendar and the clock should support your goals.
“Planning my study time, cleaning house and cooking is helping me finish college,” says a single mom who is close to getting her degree. “Instead of cursing the clock, I try to figure out how to treat every hour as a golden gift.”
Judi Light Hopson is executive director of the stress management website USA Wellness Café at usawellnesscafe.com.