This guest post is by: Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress and the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training. www.ScheduleMakeover.com
When picking up teens from activities on time, making sure their homework gets done, and ensuring that they’ve eaten something somewhat nutritious seems like almost all you can handle, the idea of setting goals like having more quality family time seems nearly impossible. How can you make time for fun when you can barely keep up with the practical details of day-to-day life?
Your skepticism is understandable. But as a time coach I’ve found that you can improve the quality of your family life by practicing three secrets to effective time investment.
Here’s how you can reduce stress and have more fun times with your teens in 2013:
Secret #1: Clarify Action-Based Priorities
Too often we don’t invest time in our top priorities because we haven’t actually defined what we need to do in order to make our priority a priority. If having more quality family time where you can connect and enjoy one another’s company is a priority for you in the new year, here’s what it could look like to make that action-based:
- Eat dinner together as a family
- Watch a movie
- Go on a vacation together
- Take five minutes to talk before everyone goes to bed
- Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at a local diner
Secret #2: Set Realistic Expectations
Although it’s good to set high standards for your family, it’s counterproductive to set impossible ones. Each family’s definition of what looks realistic will be a bit different, but it’s good to decide in advance what seems reasonable. You can do that in a couple of different ways:
- Establish a time-bound goal: One way to approach expectations is to set up a goal for a certain span of time such as eating dinner together three nights a week, watching a movie once a week, or going on vacation once every six months.
- Evaluate expectations on a periodic basis: Another approach is to set your expectations during a weekly or monthly planning time. For instance, one week you may decide that a realistic expectation is to eat dinner together two nights and another week it may look like four meals together.
Secret #3: Strengthen Simple Routines
Once you have clarified your action-based priorities and set realistic expectations, strengthening simple routines makes this time investment automatic. Because our actions typically follow the path of least resistance—particularly when we feel tired or overwhelmed—routines play an essential role in sticking to our priorities. Here are a few examples of how you could make the actions listed under Secret #1 into routines:
- Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday we eat dinner together after our teens finishes their sports practices.
- Every Friday night, we have one family member pick a movie and a time when we will watch that movie over the weekend. The person who makes the decision rotates on a weekly basis.
- Every New Year’s Eve, we decide on a couple of vacation spots and talk through when it would be possible for everyone to travel together.
- Each evening, whomever is going to bed first says good night to the other family members and asks them if there is anything on their mind.
- Every Saturday morning when there is not a soccer game, we go as a family to the diner around the corner.
By following these three secrets, you can enhance the quality of your family time without constantly needing to think about what to do to make that happen. For more tips on implementing these secrets, including step-by-step instructions on how to create your own custom routines and 40 done-for-you routines, take a look at my book newly released in hardcover and on kindle The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time management life coach and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress Find out more at www.ScheduleMakeover.com.
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