How to Gain Control of Your Time

Time management is a constant and common struggle among most adults. Laura Vanderkam, an author, writer and speaker, discusses this ever-evolving issue in her Ted Talk, “How to Gain Control of Your Time.”

She identifies the most fundamental part of understanding how to manage time effectively as understanding how you prioritize. She uses an emergency situation as an example. If someone asked if you had a few hours to spare today, you’d probably say “no,” with little to no hesitation. However, if an emergency situation arose, a few hours would open up. This free time doesn’t appear magically. Spare time is created when urgency is present. Urgency = top priority.

“Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we put into it.”

Another concept Vanderkam explains is performance reviews and how they are typically conducted at the end of the year, rather than the beginning. She encourages her audience to fill out an end of the year professional or personal review for themselves at the start of the year. By doing so, it’s easier to create a strategy to accomplish those goals with the specific steps it will take to get there.

Sounds overwhelming, but it’s more simple than you think. Taking 5 minutes per day, 5 days per week to improve one’s job will create 1,200 little improvements to a job over a 5 year period. A small improvement can be something as simple as finding a more efficient way to organize emails, drink more water or even just have a conversation. Those little improvements turn into significant, positive changes.

“There is time. Even if we are busy, we have time for what matters. And when we focus on what matters, we can build the lives we want in the time we’ve got.”

For further time management advice from Laura Vanderkam, check out her article on Fortune.