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Creating Time For Relationships That Matter: Part One

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No matter what kind of relationships you have, whether it be with your team at work, parents, partners or children, you need to be able to maintain and strengthen relationships in order to prosper and grow. But sustaining relationships can be hard, especially when time always seems to be running out and work keeps on piling up around you.

If you want a relationship that looks and feels like the most amazing thing on earth, you need to treat it like it is the most amazing thing on earth.
In this blog, we will focus on 2 crucial elements that help to form a healthy relationship, from setting priorities to valuing the time that you have. I’ve also added some activities along the way, including how to set more realistic goals and manage your time effectively, to help you achieve this.

1.Valuing Time
In this day and age, many of us are spending too much time on what’s urgent and not what’s important – days seem to fly by without us having achieved anything meaningful or fulfilling. Time is non-refundable and should be used with intention as time wasted is life wasted. It is not about ‘having time’, it is about making time.

Time may fly by but you are the pilot. Here are two exercises to help put you back in control.

 Activity 1: How Long Is a Minute?
Without looking at a device that measures time, estimate how long a minute is. You will need help from another person who has the time to see if you have guessed accurately.

How did you do?
You will be surprised as to how long a minute can be. By being more conscientious about the time you have and how you are using it, you’ll be able to use this knowledge to improve your work flow and prioritise tasks.

Activity 2: Patterns in Weekly Activities
Sit down and list out all the high-level activities that you do in a typical 7-day week. Once you have written this list, categorise each activity, grouping them under headings (e.g. work, family, etc.). This will make your activities easier to plan and manage, as well as giving a good overview of which areas you spend and waste your time on. 

Thereafter, begin labelling what your energy levels are like whilst tackling each activity. Are you productive during these sessions? Or perhaps tired and hungry?

As you continue with this activity, you will begin to notice patterns emerging. Use these patterns to analyse how you allocate your time and how productive you are. What improvements can you put in place to boost productivity or to allow more time for family and friends in response to this analysis?
Perhaps you can delegate tasks to other people, combine tasks or even set strict timeslots to accomplish certain tasks. Whatever you choose to-do, now is the perfect time to make changes and grow. 

2. Priorities
How many times have you used the phrase “I just don’t have time to do …”?
Maybe it is the fear of failure that makes this phrase so appealing. Or perhaps you genuinely believe that a new opportunity will only add to the stress that you already have in life. Either way, the reality is that you do have time, you simply don’t prioritise.

As time management expert, Mike Garnder states in this article, “When you don’t set priorities, you are essentially running on autopilot, doing the first thing that comes to mind rather than the thing that needs to be done the most.”
In other words, you are neglecting what is important to you by not setting boundaries or fully understanding how much time you have. This often leads to people saying yes to something when they really mean no (or vice versa).

Being able to identify and set boundaries is key to finding the right work/life balance for you.
As Mike Garnder goes on to say, “Setting priorities helps you to keep the various areas of your life in balance. If you don’t make family a priority, you may end up working all the time and neglecting that area.”
Here are a couple of activities that can help you identify and achieve this balance so that you can say yes or no confidential in any given situation.

Activity 1: Goal Setting
List your main goals for the year, reflecting on the top resolutions you have or want to make. Then list daily, weekly or even monthly actions that you need to make in order for these goals to become a reality.
Thereafter, you should review the 7-day activity list to see if it prioritises the main goals that you have set yourself.

Activity 2: Reviewing Goals and Priorities
When you have set your goals and compared them to your high-level activity list, ask yourself if there are any activities that should be dropped? Or, is there anything else that should be added to the list?

SCAMPER is a great method to use when trying to answer these questions – a series of provocations that can help you to innovate existing solutions, approaching them with different perspectives and ideas.

Can I substitute this solution or resource with another to produce a better result?

Can items be combined to create a more productive solution?

How can I adapt my life or way of working to fit in X, Y or Z?

Can I modify a process or learn something new to make these goals easier?

Put to another use
Would this be more beneficial for someone else?

Is this essential or necessary?

Can this be moved to increase efficiency?

Activity 3: Saying Yes or No
When is it okay to say no? When is it not ok to say no?
By setting boundaries, you will gain a better understand of your own limits and how to communicate these to others. As a result, you will be one step closer to a better work/life balance and forming stronger relationships.

Used in conjunction with each other, these two elements can help you to effectively utilise your time and commitments. By giving yourself the opportunity to step back and see where and how you are spending your time, you can adjust your priorities to suit your goals whilst also supporting the growth of your relationships.

But what else can be done to further your efforts and free more time for your important relationships? And how can you put steps in place to not only benefit yourself, but those around you too?
In my next blog post I carry on the discussion of creating more time for relationships, exploring the subjects of communication, self-care and teamwork. So, don’t forget to keep an eye out! 

Written by
Shivendra Kumar
Shivendra Kumar is a highly regarded leader, known for delivering organizational transformation through innovation and process improvement. With a unique approach and inspirational leadership style that creates a culture of change in businesses, he develops organisational capability needed for both short and long term results. His blogs cover topics related to business improvement, metrics and innovation.