These days, it’s not uncommon to hear stressed-out professionals bemoaning the fact that there simply are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that needs to be done in this world of doing more with less. However, author Lavaille Lavette takes a different approach to maximizing your time, one that she asserts is beneficial to corporate professional, entrepreneur, or anyone else looking to get the most out of their day.
In her book, 86,400: Manage Your Purpose to Make Every Second of Each Day Count, the former educator, columnist and marketing executive advocates what she calls “purpose management” over time management. She says with time management, the majority of your actions are dictated by time, but with purpose management, you no longer manage time. “You use time because your actions are determined by what moves you towards and keeps you in a constant state of fulfilling your purpose.” Here are five of Lavette’s tips.
Shift your focus to purpose management. “I used to find myself trying to teach people how to get 36 hours of stuff in a 24-hour day,” says Lavette. “Instead, we look at our purpose and put that in the center of everything—purpose as it relates to your family, purpose as it relates to your job or vocation and purpose as it relates to giving back and your community.” She says the benefit of purpose management is it helps you focus in order to use the 86,400 seconds in each day to engage in tasks that are relevant to fulfilling those purposes.
Let go of time-management fads. Lavette says time-management fads will give you a sense of accomplishment if you’re looking at a checklist of tasks to do in a given day, but that’s not enough. “The problem with that is the quality of the stuff you’re getting done, how you’re organizing it, and how they feed into your purpose,” she says. “You still need to manage your time, but your focus is on using the time to accomplish whatever your purpose is in that particular area.”
Incorporate the 10 characteristics that help manage your purpose. Lavette says the characteristics of forgiveness, wisdom, dedication, balance, imagination, thankfulness, patience, faithfulness, generosity and courage should be part of your day. She says keeping this at the forefront will help you stay focused on your purpose.
Stop trying to find fulfillment in crossing tasks off a checklist. “Putting purpose in front of time management makes you conscious of what it is you’re trying to accomplish overall,” she says. “If teachers look at their purpose and put it at the forefront, all their actions will feed into that purpose and we’ll have better educated kids.”
Don’t let time overwhelm you. You’re going to have to allocate your time wisely, so being conscious of what you’re doing automatically helps you to allocate your time more wisely. “It’s not an easy thing to do since we’re pulled in 50 different ways and we’re requiring less people to do more than before, but you should still be conscious of what you’re doing,” says the author. “The question you should ask yourself each morning isn’t: ‘How many tasks can I squeeze into my allocated time?’ Rather ‘How closely can I use each second of the day to live my purpose?’”