In school, work, and play, it is easy to get swept up in the moment and lose sight of the longterm goal. The number of things demanding our attention seem to grow each day. It is hard to keep from being overwhelmed or consumed by everything.
Of course, in the “Play” column, getting swept up in the moment can be healthy; we need to be able to operate without boundaries.
In work and school, however, we must exercise a little more discipline in how our time is used if we want to be proactive rather than reactive.
This is living with intention.
[bctt tweet “When we operate within the bounds of intention, we are giving ourselves permission to focus on the important. Not just the urgent.”]
Lately, I’ve felt that my work life was getting a bit chaotic. And because of my personality, it did not take long for this feeling of anxiety spilled over into my personal life. It lead to spending weekends on work projects and not continually evaluating what is important.
You see, there is a huge difference between focusing on what is important and what is urgent.
It is easy to spend a Saturday trying to get caught up on work and miss a family birthday party. Or skip out on spending a quiet afternoon in the bookstore in exchange for sitting at your work computer trying to feel productive.
Seth Godin talks about how we prioritize — often incorrectly — based on urgency: here, here, and here.
The problem, of course, is that the queue of urgent never ends, it merely changes its volume as it gets longer.
Today, I want to give you 5 keys to intentionally living the life you deserve:
1. Budget Your Time
The first key to operating with intention is to budget your time. Financial advisor Dave Ramsey recommends budgeting every dollar and assigning it a name. In the same way, we must give our time a purpose.
In doing so, we command control over our schedule rather than allowing our schedule to control us.
Give every dollar a name—mortgage, credit card bill, groceries, car repairs. Name them all. Once you have a plan and a purpose, you’ll be well on your way to creating financial peace…
A budget isn’t a financial straitjacket, though some free spirits would disagree. A budget is really just about making a plan—and, when you do that, you’ll actually experience more freedom than you had before. A lot of people are shocked when they realize they “find” more money after creating a realistic budget and sticking with it.
To create a time budget, start with a list of your priorities and recurring tasks. When I do this, I include everything from checking email to writing to staff meetings to mid-day rests. Then, I begin allocating time on a weekly calendar to each of these tasks. For example:
- 6am-7am: Workout
- 7am-8am: Quiet Time & Bible Study
- 8:30am-9am: Read Industry News & Blogs of Thought-leaders
- 9am-12pm: Write 2 Blog Post Drafts
- 12pm-1pm: Lunch and rest
- 1pm-3pm: Finalize Writing / Publish / Promote
- 3pm-4pm: Check email, plan tomorrow, daily review
Your schedule will be different — and it should be. I have different priorities for my business. One of my friends doesn’t start working until 6pm, opting instead to spend the first part of his day with his wife and child.
Your priorities will be evident based on how you schedule them in this step.
2. Be Honest With Yourself
The second key to living intentionally requires some self-awareness. Take an honest look at your financials and your current calendar.
What can be cut?
How we spend our time and money reveals our priorities.
If you are like me, things tend to creep into our both our calendar and our monetary spending that lead to more distraction than benefit.
After you’ve identified these distractions, create a plan to trim these expenses from your life so you can spend your time and resources on what truly matters to you.
3. Learn to Say No
Not everything that comes across your desk requires a “Yes” from you.
The third key to intentional living is learning to say “No” when requests are made of you that do not require your attention or fall outside of your desired scope of living intentionally.
It is easy — natural in fact — to want to help when we are asked; learning to say no may be uncomfortable at first. Ultimately, successful leaders understand what additional tasks they can — and cannot — take on.
Some of us may have our schedule programmed by others – in this case, you will need to prioritize the tasks that you do control.
If you cannot accept the additional work, but still want to help your colleague, perhaps you can use phrases like:
- I am not able to do that right now, I do have some availability on Wednesday at 3, how does that work for you
- I don’t think I am the best fit for this project, have you talked to Lisa in Accounting? She is quite skilled in this area.
- I don’t have the ability to take this on right now because it would require some time for me to troubleshoot the issue. I would start at Google or XYZ resource, have you looked for a solution there?
4. Decide to Delegate
Following close on the heels of saying “no” comes delegating.
Look at the activities and tasks you currently devote time to accomplishing. Can any of them be handled by other people? I’ve often referenced hiring a housekeeper to keep up on the cleaning of my home. This is a necessary activity that is not critical to me doing. The same goes for packing before a business trip, picking up dry cleaning, grocery shopping, or proof-reading your blog.
If it is not imperative that you be the one to accomplish the task, look for ways to outsource or delegate.
5. Plan for Pleasure
It is so easy to overlook taking time for ourselves, our spouses, our family, and loved ones.
When choosing to live with intention, remember to schedule time specifically for family time, date night, or outdoor activities.
As you saw above, I have intentionally blocked out quiet time for myself, Bible study, family time, and even weekend activities.
Of course the actives on the weekend are much less ridged, but seeing it on the calendar serves as a reminder to plan to have fun instead of watching the weekend unintentionally slip away to hours of Netflix.
Once you commit to living your live intentionally, take the necessary steps to prioritize what is important and cut the rest. Decide to start delegating tasks that can be completed by others. Finally, make time for you at the important people in your life.
Living the life you deserve includes giving yourself some play time.
Leave a comment on my Facebook page and tell me which of these steps resonate with you and what you will do to take charge.