Time is our most important commodity. We all have the same number of hours in a day. You can’t buy more hours or minutes, or save them up for later. Time spent is not refundable. When the hours go by, you can’t get them back. It’s the way we use our time that matters. Use it or lose it. That’s what time management is all about.

Let’s talk about how you are spending your day:

When you are sleeping, do you toss and turn with a talk radio station making noise in your ear or with the television on? Do you go to bed after eating too much food or drinking too much wine, and find you have indigestion. Or do you get quality sleep in a dark, quiet, peaceful room, or perhaps with relaxation music soothing you to sleep? A quality night of sleep will do wonders for your waking hours.

When you are driving to work, do you listen to morning news radio or your favorite tunes? Do you talk on the phone to your friends to pass the time in traffic? Or do you listen to audiobooks or educational podcasts? Or do you use the time to catch up with your kids if you are the taxi for the day? Some people spend several hours a day in their cars. Think about ways you can cash in on this time.

Do you sit in meetings all day discussing plans for projects? Or do you spend time making them happen? Do you let business calls get out of control or do you keep them short and to the point? Do you delegate to your team to give them a chance to shine and stretch themselves, or do you need to control everything? We spend a lot of time at work. Think about how you can maximize these hours.

Do you microwave a burrito and eat it standing up for ten minutes at your kitchen counter? Or order in a pizza because you are too tired to cook? Or do you buy fresh vegetables and prepare them into a tasty, healthy dish that will digest easily and not interrupt your sleep. Dinner is a great time to catch up with your family and find out what your kids have been doing all day. If you live alone, treat yourself to a gourmet home-cooked meal. You deserve it.

I can’t tell you the right way to spend your time. These questions were designed to get you thinking about ways to make your time count for more. Learn to manage your time.

Here are some common methods:

To-Do Lists
Some people love to use to-do lists because it gives them a clear idea of what needs to be done, and they get to check items off the list and feel good about it. Others find to-do lists stressful. Putting the day in writing makes them feel their tasks are looming over them. If they don’t get everything done, it makes them feel like they failed. Only you know what will work for you.

Alarm Clock
Some people set an alarm for each task. Two hours to write that proposal. One hour to make a schedule. Three hours for calling clients. This could work for you or you could find it stressful. When the alarm goes off if you are not finished your task, this could be, well, alarming.

What Can You Give Up?
If you really can’t condense your work time, look to other areas where you are wasting time. I have a friend who decided to skip her weekly half-hour manicure and do her own nails instead. She used the time saved on something more important to her. There’s nothing wrong with getting your nails done. Maybe that is the time you use to catch up with friends. It’s up to you to decide which tasks are more important, and make time for the ones that add value to your life.

Work Smarter, Not Harder
This translates to use your time wisely. If you work for yourself, you know that time can equal money. You can’t spend hours in meetings talking about plans. Set a time limit. Stand up instead of sitting down. Get your meetings done quickly and with no fat. A number of my clients have their own businesses. I tell them to determine how much their time is worth. If they were paying themselves a salary, what would be their hourly rate? And then you’ll know how much wasted hours are costing you.

You Don’t Need To Fill Every Hour
Don’t get caught up in the cycle of filling every hour with work. Quality time can mean different things for different people. The reason to work smarter is to free your time for your other interests. Maybe you want more time to spend with your family. Or more time to relax. Or more time to do charity work. Maybe you have a full-time job and are looking for time to work on your own business.

If you’re not sure how to do this, a coach can help. We can determine where you are losing time and how to make adjustments that suit your lifestyle and needs. I’d love to work with you.