Skip to content

Guard Your Time


Today, I want to talk about time. How to use time efficiently at work so your personal life doesn't suffer. 

During our recent Clubhouse talk, Professional Women Balancing Life With Mindfulness, the issue came up about setting boundaries and it got me thinking. I've always known it's important to have boundaries around guarding your time. The more research I've done on the topic, the more I see that successful people have set up some type of boundaries to help guard their time. I have a quote from Warren Buffett which I found to be spot on, "You've got to keep control of your time and you can't unless you say no. You can't let people set your agenda for life."


It's so true.  During our workday, we're going and going and going, as we try to get as many tasks done as we possibly can.  After our workday, we go home and we're trying to get everything done there, dealing with our family, taking care of the house, or getting ourselves organized for the next day.  We are always on the go, but we know time is a very valuable commodity.  What do we do? How do we make it? How do we guard our time so that we do the things that are most important to us?





I believe one of the first things you have to do is sit back and think to yourself, what's important to me? What goals do I have both personally and professionally, and why do I do what I do every day?  If you've heard any of my other talks, I'm always talking about your why, because knowing why you are doing what you are doing is extremely important. This is what pushes you through during those difficult times. Knowing what's important to you is going to help you put those boundaries in place. Your time should only be used for the things that will help you achieve the goal and help you stay within your boundaries.


Protect Your Time


I recently had the opportunity to hear Oprah speak at the Inbound 2021 Show.  It was very interesting when she answered one of the questions. The question was about how she reacts when people frequently approach her to do projects. How do you determine what projects you do and what projects you don't? The first thing she says is, "I say no." Obviously, there's got to be projects she turns down. But she also said, in order to determine whether she's going to do a certain project, she figures out why she is going to do it? And what's the intention? What are they trying to get out of it? Digging into why you're doing something and the intention makes the outcome clearer. The reason why her show was so successful is that the interviews were thought-provoking. Oprah didn't just do the surface-type interviews, she dove deep into what the people really wanted to get across to the audience.  She was able to put boundaries up and guard her time to make her show a success. 


With more people working at home now, it can be difficult to put up boundaries between personal life and professional life. It's very easy to be on the computer anytime, to be pulled into your work.  How do you draw the line and have a quality personal life? 




Focus on what matters most


I've put together four ways that I feel we can all guard our time to do the things that are best for us because the most important person is us.  The first one is that I agree with Oprah.  We have to say no to the tasks or the projects or the social events that don't really fuel us. It's not going to get us to the goal and it's not what's important to us. So we have to say no.


The second one I really like, and that's journaling. I love to write down ideas that are important to me. They pop into your head at night or you go for a walk and when ideas pop in your mind, you jot them down. When you go back later, you eliminate the ones that aren't important in helping you achieve your goals. Keep the list available so you have something to go back to.  Continue adding to the list every day and prioritize how each idea fits into your life. 


The third is to avoid interruptions. This is important because it can be hard to ignore interruptions, especially when you are working on something that is difficult or you just don't want to do.  For instance, say you have a huge project you are working on and the phone rings.  You pick up the phone not knowing that this will cost you valuable time and energy that should have been put toward the project.  Now instead of taking two hours to complete, it's four hours later and the project isn't finished.  You're anxious and mad that your day has gone by and you didn't finish that important project.  So don't surcome to interruptions, don't check email, turn off your phone, and lock your office door, if possible, so there are no interruptions and you can concentrate on that project.


Be mindful of your time. If you concentrate on one thing at a time, you do a better job. The project will be done, and you'll produce quality work in a shorter period of time. 


The fourth one is to stop and set a schedule. Just like the CEO of the Asset Management Division of J.P. Morgan mentioned, you've got to set a schedule. Put blocks of time on your schedule for all the tasks that need to be done. Some time blocks you could schedule are checking your email and being on social media, both of which can be big time wasters. You could easily spend the whole day just responding to your emails and never actually get to the big projects that need to be done. So set a schedule. Plan out your schedule for the day and maybe you give yourself three slots during the day that you'll check emails and those are the only times you'll be in your email. Then maybe you have one time in the morning and one time in the afternoon that you'll check social media when you'll respond to notifications.


Time is our most valuable asset and we can't get back time. You don't want to have a day where you have so many things on your to do list that you don't even want to get up in the morning.  


I hope this gave you some ideas, use those four things. I think they'll definitely help you to guard your time.

  • Start saying no. Say no to the things that are not going to help you reach your goal, both personally and professionally.
  • Journal writing, start writing down the ideas, weed out the things that aren't important and concentrate on the things that are most important to you.
  • The third, avoid interruptions, work on the project, get it done, and then have your set time when you're going to do the smaller tasks.
  • And the fourth is to set your schedule and know what needs to be accomplished that day and get it done.


I really hope this helps you.  By guarding your time you can add more value to your day and have more time to do what your want to do instead of things you have to do.  I hope everyone comments about this and tells me what types of things you do to guard your time.  And like Warren Buffet says, let's start to guard our time, say no so that we can accomplish the things that are most important to us.