Is time on your side?

Tips to make the most of your life: Time management is life management

By Barbara Pierce


Time management? Boring! That’s what I thought.

Then I had a chat with Denise Passero, a wise woman who’s got it together. She makes her busy life work well, and she’s happy.

Passero, 63, of Amsterdam, has a full-time job as adjunct professor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown.

On the side, she’s a distributor for Young Living Products that feature personal care products and therapeutic-grade essential oils. Her business is called Mohawk Valley Essential Solutions.

She’s married; her husband and her religion are important to her as is caring for her elderly mother.

When I asked her about time management, she modestly said, “Oh, but I’m just a work in progress; I’m not perfect with it.” But, with all the irons she has in the fire, I knew she must be doing something right.

Something we all could learn from.

Because, face it, we do get overwhelmed when there’s so many things to do and not enough time. We have a work deadline to meet, our daughter is in the school play and our son’s scout troop needs us to make brownies today. “If only there was another eight hours in this day!” we think. “Then I’d be OK!”

That’s a major cause of stress.

And you know what they say about stress — it’s so bad for your health in so many ways. It’s can damage your heart, ruin your immune system, make you gain weight, and is linked to cancer.

It’s not that we need more time, but that we need to get the most out of the time we have without stressing out.

I guess you could say it’s taking control of your life instead of your life controlling you.

— Know your priorities: “It’s a juggling act,” explained Passero. “I’m not perfect at it. There’s a quote I like: ‘Pick the hill you want to die on.’ You can only fight so many battles; you have to figure out what’s important to you.”

First, figure out what’s essential to you. For Passero, it’s her 9-to-5 job. Then comes her religion. “Everything else has to fit in around those two,” she said.

You might start by identifying how you currently spend your time. Take a few days, or even a week, and jot down what you’re doing in every 20-minute segment. Take a good look at how you’re spending your time.

Start by identifying things you can let go. Things that don’t bring you joy, and don’t contribute to your long-term goals — why waste time on them?

Then decide the top one or two things important to you. Keep in mind your long-term goals and what you hope to accomplish in the next few years.

— Have a calendar: You need a way to keep track of your schedule.

Whether you choose electronic or paper, a calendar is critical. Every time you schedule something, add it to your calendar immediately. That way, you’ll be able to tell at a glance how much free time you have, what your upcoming obligations are, and who you might have to say no to.

I like my month-at-a-glance paper calendar. I keep notes about the thing scheduled right on the page, i.e. if I have a meeting, I write down things for the agenda there.

Day-at-a-glance doesn’t work so well, because you need to see an overview of your schedule. If you’ve got an important project due, you don’t want to agree to make brownies or make a doctor’s appointment that day.

— Keep a to-do list: “I’m an avid ‘lister,’” said Passero. “I have different lists for different things. I use Google apps to keep my lists.”

A to-do list is essential to me also; I do mine in a notebook because I’d forget if I didn’t write it down.

Balance is key — If you lack balance in your life, you’ll feel stressed out.

“Balance doesn’t mean you give equal time to everything,” said Passero. “What it means is you give your attention at that moment to what’s important.” Determine what’s important to you and expend your time accordingly. Do more of what makes you happy.

Don’t forget to do things like time with a friend, taking a walk in the park or listening to your favorite music. That’s important.

“I have to have some periods of time with nothing,” she added. “You’ve got to have time for yourself, to chill out. Fridays nights are my chill out time.”