With mounting to-do lists, big projects with short delivery dates,
consuming workloads, growing obligations and festering unfinished
tasks, it\’s no wonder in this what-have-you-done-for-me-today world we
often feel time deprived. Work-life flows to home-life, balance becomes
imbalance, and goals and dreams get relegated to a closet shelf.

If this sounds familiar, you\’re not alone. In a recent “Winning at
Working” reader survey, the most commonly articulated work problem was
related to time. Overwhelmed. Overworked. Overstressed. Too much to do
and too little time to do it.

But here\’s the reality. No matter how much we do, we will never get
everything done. There isn\’t enough time for all that needs doing, all
we want to do or we\’d like to do or we should do. There never will be,
even with the most sophisticated productivity, organizational and
time-management approaches. Sure, they\’re helpful, but thinking the
chaos and stress in life is caused by not having enough time is an
error.

You see, the problem is not a time problem. We all have the same
amount. It\’s a choice problem. The choices you make determine whether
you\’re running your life, or your life is running you. And you do have
choices. Sure there may be consequences to saying no, establishing
boundaries or reordering priorities. But there are also consequences if
you don\’t.

All tasks are not equal. All commitments are not equal. All
responsibilities are not equal. All clients are not equal. All people
of personal importance to your life are not equal. Yet many of us
operate as if they were. You can do fifty things today and get little,
if any, result for having done them. Or you can do one or two that
bring a big return, be it emotional, financial, physical or
psychological. People who are winning at working know the difference
and operate accordingly.

They see time as life\’s currency and how it\’s used as a choice. Choices
shape your results and your life. You get the same twenty-four hours
each day as your co-worker down the hall. But use differs. Practice the
piano eight hours a day and you\’ll be better than people who don\’t.
Practice and hone your workplace talents and the same applies. Or spend
time getting ready to work, shooting the breeze, surfing the web,
fiddling with email and you\’ll complete the day having traded your time
for minimal results.

How you spend your time puts value on what you\’re spending it on. For
years, I never had “time” to exercise consistently until a health issue
caused me to re-prioritize my choices. Funny how I managed to find the
hours when I had to. Choosing to eliminate an hour of television
created 365 “found” hours a year. That\’s nine weeks.

People who are winning at working know this secret: there is always
time for what matters to them. So, they allocate their time carefully,
understanding their life as a reflection of their choices. They make
time for the people they love, the passions they have and work that
uses their uniqueness. They focus on the results, goals, and
life-dreams they desire, rather than accepting what comes their way.
They do, while others talk of doing. They plan their day, while others
let their day plan them. And they motivate themselves, while others
wait for someone or something to motivate them. For people who are
winning at working, it\’s not about the time they have; it\’s about the
choices they make in how to use it.

Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, and speaker. Her career insights column, Winning at Working (www.winningatworking.com ) regularly appears on over eighty websites; and her life-reflections column, In the Scheme of Things (www.intheschemeofthings.com) is published in six states and Canada. Her work has been selected to appear in several anthologies. To sign up for Nan's free eColumn(s), or read more about Nan or her work, visit: www.nanrussell.com.