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Time Management Tips to Proactively Take Charge of Your Time

by Paula Eder

Finding Time is all-important. But taking charge of the time you find can seem difficult, when you are faced with so many demands. If you respond yes to the questions that follow, you will be pleased by how much time you can ADD to your day by using the tips in this article.

Proactive Question #1: Do you feel like you spend most of your time putting out fires?

Proactive Question #2: Do you respond to other people's priorities, leaving your own on the shelf?

Stop for a second. Think about ways that you are being reactive in your decisions about your time.

Reactive Time Choices - the 3 D's

Bottom line, if your choices around time are reactive it will always be hard for you to create a plan and stick to it. When you set aside your own priorities to tend to others' 3 D's, be aware that you are responding reactively:

* Demands,

* Desires, and

* Difficulties

Be Proactive - ADD to Your Time

What can you do when faced with the 3 D's? First, do not let someone else's tone or urgency automatically overrule your own priorities. Stop and ADD it up for yourself.

1) Assess,

2) Decide, and then

3) DO!

Do not confuse being proactive with being rigid; and don't make the mistake of equating being reactive with being flexible!

To become proactive while remaining responsive, look within to decide what time choices work the best for you. Your first challenge is to avoid being put on the spot.

Practical tips to help you be more proactive:

Tip #1: Weigh what you may hear others say, but allow yourself all the time you need before answering.

Tip #2: Assess for yourself the importance or urgency of the issue.

Tip #3: Do not be overwhelmed by individuals who are highly verbal, have strong personalities, or may just be crisis junkies.

Tip #4: Try saying, "I'll think about it and get back to you."

Tip #5: Reserve the right to set a boundary for yourself.

Try This on for Size:

Perhaps your boss thrives on the excitement of last-minute adrenalin. Your boss comes to you after lunch with an "urgent" job. You could say:

* I can see that you feel (X) is very important.

* I just want to let you know that if I do (X) now, I probably will not have time to do (Y) by the end of the day.

* Which of the two do you prefer I do first?

In this way, you:

* Acknowledge the request but do not react,

* Convey the consequences of not setting priorities, and

* Give your boss the opportunity to make a choice.

The way you spend your time is the way you live your life

People make time choices differently, depending on their values. To be more proactive, start by setting some reasonable boundaries for yourself. Experiment a little and learn from others' examples. Over time, you'll acquire the self-reference and skill sets to make naturally proactive time choices.

Paula Eder may be contacted at

Paula Eder, Ph.D., The Time Finder, uses her 35+ years of experience to guide clients to effectively align values with productive time choices. For free weekly time tips & award-winning monthly Ezines, visit


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