Finding enough time in the day to fit everything into our busy lives remains a hot topic for us all. To help us find the way, thousands of pages have been written about time management – books, reports, articles, and even video. And at any given time there are hundreds of people giving time management workshops to packed rooms, and yet . . . many of us either jump from one system to another unable to find something that ‘works’ or end up avoiding implementing any sort of time management system into our world at all.

Of course there are many reasons for experiencing a time-deprived life, some within our control, others not so much. But there is one underlying reality that affects everything we do and every choice we make.

If you don’t respect the value of your time it’s really hard to get anyone else to do the same. ~Terry Bean

So what’s the solution?

The simple truth is that if you are feeling like your life’s not your own it’s because up to now you have been relinquishing your power to control your time to others. They may not consciously realize it, probably didn’t intend it … and they certainly didn't come by it naturally. You had to give it to them. So now you have to exercise your power to take it back.

You can begin by …

* Recognizing that you are in control: While we all have at least a few time commitments which really are outside our control (perhaps a health issue, a difficult family situation or a job you hate but fear leaving because of the economy), in most cases, we have a lot more power than we realize.

* Get clear on how you’re spending time now: Simplify and consolidate. If you haven’t done so already, take an inventory of your schedule and commitments. Okay, I know most of us really hate this kind of thing, but it’s pretty difficult to take back control of your time if you aren’t clear about how you’re spending it now.

Ask yourself the purpose of each activity and evaluate whether or not it really matters to you, if it’s an obligation, or if it’s simply a habit. Choose whether or not you need to continue each one, or if you should set it aside. In the case of obligations, look for a way to either make the best of it or relinquish it once and for all. Be sure to leave some room for an inner life rather than crowding it out with activity.

The essence of this exercise is to allow you to see the big picture of how you’ve been spending your time up to now so that you can step back and, as the old saying goes, see the forest for the trees. For example, one problem may be that you always end up working late – but the real question is w-h-y? Is it really that you’ve got way too much to do, or because you’re bad at prioritizing and staying on task during the day?

* Maybe you’re operating under the “I must be important because I’m so busy” illusion. After all, if you’re busy, people need you! One of our greatest needs is to feel wanted, so sometimes we take on more than we can realistically handle in a misguided effort to build self-esteem. But busy isn’t the same as “fulfilling a purpose” or “walking the path to achieve your dreams.”

* Get clear on what it is you really want in life: For most of us this is the hardest thing to do because we simply are not comfortable thinking about our own wants and desires … somehow it feels egotistical or selfish to spend time focusing on what WE want, let alone what will result in a happy and fulfilling life.

Far more important than ANY system, gadgets or tools you may be tempted to use to manage your time, before even thinking about a schedule or planning your daily routine, you need to decide once and for all what really matters to you most and what you want your ideal life to look like.

This vision, in whatever format works best for you, will serve as your anchor as you establish your highest priorities, from which you will set your goals, and from this point begin making the important choices about how to effectively use your time on a daily basis.

Author's Bio: 

Marquita (Marty) Herald is a Storyteller, Transformational Author and Coach, lover of all dogs (especially Lucy), world traveler, avid reader and last but not least … the Founder of IGG-Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas. Her personal mission is to convince you that you are as powerful as you allow yourself to be … that you can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to every event in your life. Visit her at and learn how you can grab your copy of the 12 Step Guide to Building Resilience.