Before you can successfully improve your time management skills you need clarity on what you want to use the additional time for. This is the most important but also one of the most difficult task and you should not rush but take enough time to accomplish this.
1) Private goals
- Health: Keeping your body and mind in good shape over many year will require a lot of activities and possible giving up some habits such as smoking etc.
- Family: Do want to marry and have children and how closely do you want to interact with the members of your family?
- Friends: How important are friends for your life and how deeply do you want to involve your friends in your life. How much time do you want to spend with your friends?
- Financials: How much do you want to earn and how much wealth do you want to accumulate by when?
- Artistic: Do you want to acquire certain artistic skills and bring them to a certain stage (e.g. piano, literature, etc.)
- Physical: Do you want to perform in certain sports or do you have ambitions in this field (e.g. run a marathon, etc.)
- Experiences: Do you wish to make certain unique experiences (e.g. travel around the world, climb a certain mountain, etc.)
2) Professional goals
- Education: Do you want to learn a foreign languages, complete a university degree, etc.?
- Career: Is a professional career important to you and how much do you want push it also considering what you might have to give up on your private goals
- Society: Do you want to improve the world and in what field?
Take a sheet of paper and write down your lifetime goals in those categories that matter to you. After you completed this exercise put the paper aside and review it after a week or so. Ask yourself again if this is really what you and also consider that some goals might be imposed to you by others or to fulfill other people’s expectation towards you. It took me a few months to become clear on what I really want and I can therefore only recommend to make a few loops until you are really sure about the final result.
In case you face major difficulties in identifying your goals for life, writing down the answers to the following questions might help you to become more concrete:
- If I died today, what would I wish I had done that I did not accomplish, yet?
- If I knew I had only six months to live from today, what would activity would be my highest priority?
- What do I want to be remembered for?
- What will be the benefit for me in achieving these goals?
Once you have written down your goals you might also realize that some of these are conflicting. In such a case you need to set priorities and try to find a balance. Another option can be to achieve these goals at different times in your life. Some goals might have to be achieved relatively quickly whereas others could also be interesting at a later stage.
If you are in a long-term relationship I also recommend to discuss these goals with your partner and even children if they are old enough and concerned.
At the end of this process you should print the list of your goals in large letters and put them in a prominent place in your home where you will see them every day. This will help you to stay focused and to resist the temptation of every days distraction.
I also found an intersting website http://www.43things.com/ where you can input your goals and also build a community with people sharing same goals. It also has a reminder function for each goal, where you can set how often you want to reminded for your goal by email.
As a next step it is important that you make a clear commitment to your goals. One one hand this means that you turn them into actionable items. On the other hand you can make a conclusion on many things you should not do or pursue anymore. Deciding on what you will not do anymore is of particular interest since these often are the things which distract you from achieving your goals.