From Star Trek: The Next Generation, episode titled “The Outrageous Okona”
“Life is like loading twice your cargo weight on to your spacecraft. If it’s canaries and you can keep half of them flying all the time, you’re all right.”
However you want to look at it, there are only so many useful hours in a day. How do you use them?
I started this with a Star Trek quote. The way it applies to time management is: Pack your activities into the day so that they all fit.
The “put the large rocks in first” idea is: The minutia fill take up all of the space, if you allow it. Prioritize, and do what is most important, first.
If I were to list my “rocks,” they would include:
- My family
- My job
- Playing my saxophone
- Personal programming projects
- Hanging out with friends
- Playing games
There’s a bunch of other things I could list, but that’s probably enough for now.
Some items take up set blocks of time that I can’t easily change. My job occupies the same hours every week day. Sometimes, it takes up more time than I’d like it to. Without the job, I’d have a very difficult time supporting my family. I wouldn’t be able to afford some of the other things on my list, so it gets the lion’s share of my time.
Playing my sax also has a fixed block of time. I play with the River City Concert Band every Monday evening, and whenever we have concerts. If I want to keep the music in my life, then I have to give it the time it demands.
Before I’ve really done much prioritizing, some of the “rocks” have already gone into the cup, and there’s not much I can do about it. What about the others?
This is where the Star Trek quote applies. Some of those items, I put together, so that they fit into the same time space. For example, my daughter played clarinet in the same band. We’d get to spend some time together every Monday.
Another example… my wife has started coming with me to more of my writing events. She went with me to Westercon and Convolution. It might not have been the most glamorous vacation, but it was time we got to spend together, while at the same time, allowing me to pursue my dream.
Ultimately, I have too many activities, and not enough time. There’s a web service I’ve been wanting to write for years, for recording and reporting gas mileage. There are friends that I haven’t spoken to regularly for years. There are gaming communities I’ve had to leave, and games that I’ve purchased but never played. My family, my job, and my writing have the highest priority, and often, they’re enough that I just can’t do much else.
Time management is all about setting priorities. It’s also about finding a routine, and sticking to it. It’s also about making some hard choices, and knowing what parts of your life you may need to sacrifice.