I am almost never late. This is a fact I often take for granted in myself. I need to be on time, have always been a high energy person with lots on my plate. In my final year of university, for example, I was the artistic director for the student run dance company and its main choreographer, I was also choreographing a major musical as well as taking an extra course in order to graduate on time because I was short a few credits. I did all this while maintaining a B+-A- grade point average and a satisfying social life. When I look back on it now, it takes my breath away! I had a lot of support, I lived at home and didn’t have to worry about paying bills, keeping house (other than my fair share of the chores), nor did I need a job to help sustain myself, so I was very lucky.
Truth is I still have a lot on my plate, running two businesses, one as a hypnotherapist the other as a long distance landlord of several properties back east, raising a couple of teenagers, one an elite athlete, the other in an intensive professional dance training program that requires about 100 hours of volunteer time from me. I live thousands of miles from any family and the friends I grew up with and rely very heavily on my wonderful husband to do a lot of the driving for the children’s activities. My story isn’t unusual, indeed it would hardly compare to all those brilliant single parents out there who work more than one job while raising their children, keeping house and getting kids to and from activities.
In spite of all the new fangled techno wizardry such as Blackberries, Laptops, pocket sized agendas and dry erase calendars, many still struggle with time management, are frequently, if not always late and never seem to get a grasp on some of the basic elements of effective time management. Efficient time management can actually be the key to a life filled with a sense of purpose, maintaining a good relationship with employers and work colleagues as well as contributing to your confidence and even your health! It’s very difficult to stay healthy when you are constantly flooding your system with the stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol because you are always in a state of rushing panic due to an inability to stay organized and manage time effectively. Besides which, people who manage their time well somehow seems to have more time for things like exercise and healthy food preparation! So the question is how do they do it? Here are some ideas, most of which I use on a regular basis.
1. You have to spend time to make time: That’s right, just like with money you have to actually take the time to figure out how you want to go about managing your life’s commitments.

2. During this time out that your taking, decide on what tools you would like to work with such as a blackberry, and agenda book, a central calendar. Once you have decided, go out and purchase what you need. Make sure it’s user friendly for you, that you are going to like using it, don’t buy it because your second cousin who is in the same business as you got one and loves it!

3. Make a list of priorities on a regular basis, daily, once a week etc. It’s really simple to do and more helpful than most people imagine. If cleaning out your refrigerator on a particular day is more important than going to the gym for you, then so be it.

4. If you are a natural procrastinator or avoiding something unpleasant, make sure to schedule in a reward for yourself after the task is completed preferably on time. The reward should be something fun/healthy, (a huge bowl of ice cream while tasty may not serve you well in the long run!) This is known as delaying your gratification and can have a huge impact on your confidence and sense of self-worth.

5. Make important dates unbreakable. What that means is that if you schedule a meeting, a deadline, a workout, a dental appointment for that aching tooth, whatever, that nothing except an emergency or something much higher on your priority list will cause you to cancel it.

6. If anything needs to be cancelled, immediately reschedule it, reprioritize it and put it in your agenda with a new date and time.

7. Become aware of much time it usually takes you to do things such as driving to and from work, grocery shopping, writing reports etc. I find in my hypnotherapy practice that people who are chronically late often grossly underestimate the amount of time any given activity is going to take and because of that have a tendency to try to do too much at one time. Get a timer, a watch with an alarm, do dry runs to time yourself. Becoming aware of time can be your greatest ally in organizing your life!

8. Learn how to say no. Set your limits and stick to them, remember that list of priorities that you made! A great book on learning to set appropriate limits and boundaries with bosses, clients friends and family is Michael Ury`s The Power of a Positive No.

9. Write out positive affirmations such as “I am always on time”. “I manage my time extremely well” etc.
10. Automate whatever you can wherever you feel comfortable. Automatic withdrawals for rent or mortgage payments can be huge timesavers. There are many utilities that allow for automatic withdrawal for payments and if you are good at keeping your cheque book and accounts balanced this may be a useful option. Online banking and bill payment is an alternative that allows for good control over your spending without requiring the cheque writing or bank visits.

Now that you have spent some time considering and implementing some time management skills, give yourself time! Remember that new habits and changes take time and conscious effort before they become ingrained behaviours. Be consistent and be patient and be kind, time is your friend when you use it wisely!

Author's Bio: 

Alison L. Longley is a Master of Clinical Hypnotherapy, certified practitioner of NLP, PSYCH-K, Heart Resonance Energy Therapy and HypnoBirthing prenatal education. Alison specializes in treating women children and teens with an emphasis on anxiety, infertility and childbirth. Visit her website at http://www.hypnotherapy-vancouver.ca