“I don’t have time.” How many times do you say this throughout your week? With an overly saturated media environment, the challenging demands of work, family obligations, and socializing, there is little time left to do anything. The problem I here repetitively from clients and students is that they have no “choice” in how they spend their time – they act like victims of time.

On May 20th, I facilitated a Time Management Workshop for the Southern Illinois University Alumni Association with Brian Henry, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Express Scripts.  We had two simple goals:  (A) help the audience understand their current relationship to time and (B) teach them to make conscious decisions to use their time more wisely.

Here are some highlights of what we discussed:

Prioritize Your Values
The AARP recently conducted interviews with Hospice patients who only had a few weeks to live. They asked these participants to share life advice, and everything they discussed revolved around spending more time with loved ones, working less, and living according to your own standards. Most of us say that time with friends and family is our top priority, but an analysis of how we actually spend our time paints a different picture. Find ways to live your values, not just talk about them.

Relationship to Time
We asked the audience to complete the following thought: Time is __________________________. Here is what they said: scarce; a resource; the enemy; useful; a motivator; money; inevitable; running out. How we talk about time shapes the manner in which we use our time. If we treat it like an enemy, we will always feel like we don’t have enough of it, whereas if we talk about it as a motivational tool it enables us to view time in a more productive manner.

Group Strategy
You need to come up with clear strategies when you are managing other people’s time in addition to your own. So whether you are a parent, a teacher, a consultant, a coach, a middle manager, or a CEO, you need to create clear time management rules and procedures. More important, you need to communicate these strategies to the people you work and live with to ensure that you are on the same page.

We concluded the presentation with some lyrics from Pink Floyd’s 1973 song Time:

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Stop waiting for someone to lead you to time management utopia and start making conscious choices to better manage your time. If your organization is experiencing issues related to time management, mismanaged meetings, or poor organizational skills, be sure to contact Mediation and Communication Solutions, LLC: zach@sparkthediscussion.com