Sometimes our lives can feel like an endless to-do list, where we leap from one task to another. It can feel like our lives are running us rather than the other way around. If this is how you are feeling, it is time to consider how you are spending your time and energy.

The simple fact is that each of us has the same 24 hours a day. We cannot create more time. What we can do is manage our energy and our thoughts to change how we experience time and make considered choices on how we are spending our time.

It is all about spending your time and energy on what is most important to you. Honoring your priorities and focusing on one thing at a time will help you lead a less stressful life and will allow you to accomplish more with less effort. Making conscious choices about how you spend your time and energy will enable you to start running your life and to experience life as moments to enjoy rather than as a to-do list to complete.

Dangers of Multitasking and Multithinking

We often fill up our time with thoughts of the past (thinking about all the things we did not get done) or the future (thinking about all the things we have to do) instead of where we are right now. We often try to complete a number of different tasks at the same time. Splitting our thoughts and attention in this way contributes to the sense of feeling rushed and pulled in many different directions.
When we multitask, we often end up with a number of things half done, which leaves us feeling anxious. When we only listen to our child or colleague with half an ear while we think about tomorrow’s meeting, we create an experience that is stressful and unfulfilling for both us and the other person.

Being Fully Present

What if you could focus all your energy and attention and place it on what you are doing in this moment? What would be possible for you then? When we give our full attention and presence to whomever we are speaking or to whatever we are doing, we step off that hamster wheel of frenetic activity and enrich our lives and the lives of others.

Choosing to focus your thoughts and energy in the present moment and doing one thing at a time, and doing it well, will not only help you to accomplish more, it will help you to create a more peaceful experience of time.

How Are You Using Your Time?

We are constantly confronted with multiple possibilities of how to spend our work and personal time. There is not enough time to do it all. We often must give up one thing in order to have time to do another. We often get caught up in doing all sorts of things that we think we should be doing but that are not very important to us. We end up spending our time and energy doing things that do not bring us joy or a sense of fulfillment because we never take the time to really think about what we are doing and why.

Many people spend up to 35 hours per week watching television. Is this a real priority for you? Perhaps you would rather choose a movie or one really good television show that you enjoy and let the others go. This would free up huge amounts of time for you to do many other things.

When you know what is most important to do and have clear priorities, then it is easier to make choices on how to use your time. When we focus on things that are important to us, we make more effective use of our time, and we feel better because we are spending our time doing what is important and meaningful to us—and we will likely accomplish more as a result.
Setting Priorities

Setting priorities will help you make conscious and informed choices on how you are using your time. It is all about living with purpose. Honoring your priorities and focusing on one thing at a time will help you to have a less stressful experience of time and will allow you to accomplish more with less effort.

When you are setting priorities, consider the following questions.

Why am I doing this?
Is this something I need to do or is it something I want to do?
Or is it neither? Who else can do this?
Is it important that I do this right now, or can it wait?
Will doing this support my goals and my values?

It is important to recognize the priorities in all aspects of your life: work, relationships, self-care, home, and responsibilities. You can then make choices that enable you to fulfill your priorities and can choose to let the less important things go for now. Be honest with yourself about what you can do and what you want to do. Priorities will change day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year. Different things will be more important to you at different times in your life.

Schedule Your Priorities

Schedule time to take care of your priorities, and set a completion date. Be sure to build “flex” time into each day: 30 to 60 minutes of time that you block off. This time can be used to deal with the unexpected or for things that are taking longer than you anticipated.

Spending your time focused on priorities will increase your peace of mind and bring greater meaning and purpose to your life because you are focused on what is really important to you in all aspects of your life.

Coaching Questions

Of the activities you are doing now, which ones energize you? Which ones drain you? What do you want to have more of in your life? What is most important for you to have in your life right now? (Consider all your roles and responsibilities.) What is stopping you from doing these things?
Take Action
How Are You Really Using Your Time?

Over the next week, carry a notebook and write down what you are doing for every minute of your day. Keep a record of how you spend your time and energy for the next seven days.

After one week, consider the following questions.

How are you using your time?
What are you missing out on because of your current lifestyle?
Is there time in your life for the things that are most important to you?
How can you make more time for what you value most?

Action Steps

List three ways you misuse your time, and then list three things you can do to minimize these activities. For example:

Misuses: checking your e-mail every hour on the hour. Action: only check e-mail in the morning and after lunch.

Identify three areas where you might be able to delegate tasks or ask for more help, and then list three actions you can take to help you create more time in this area. For example:

Area: Household chores. Action: have each family member take on an additional household task.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Jan Hornford is a life coach and certified retreat coach whose passion is to help individuals reconnect with their own wisdom and power and to support them in creating the lives they want. She offers a variety of courses and retreats that are designed to help you reclaim your self and experience the peace and sense of wholeness that comes from knowing your purpose and living authentically. Visit her Web site at for more information and for the free, four-week e-course “Living Authentically: Honouring Your Truth in Everyday Life.” Contact Jan at (403) 313–4064 or at