By : Madeleine Ortiz
Achieving a goal can be challenging, and this is especially true when it comes to weight loss. Roadblocks to success are everywhere. Processed foods in the break room at work threaten to throw us off track when afternoon hunger hits, a tight budget can prevent us from joining the gym and delicious looking food tempts us on television each time there’s a commercial break. We bring snacks from home, search for less expensive alternatives and even vow to stop watching TV, but, even then, we might be forgetting a major skill when it comes to attaining our goals. “One of the things that is often underestimated when dealing with weight,” according to weight loss expert Dr. Michael Lyon, “is the importance of time management.”
Dr. Michael Lyon heads a medical weight management program in Canada and he repeatedly hears the same concerns from his patients, “I don’t have time to get any exercise. I don’t have time to cook. I don’t have time to sit and learn to relax or meditate.” And while Dr. Lyon acknowledges that most of us do lead very busy lives, almost all of us could benefit from learning how to make the most of the time in our day. .
Prioritizing tasks and figuring out what’s really important is a critical step when it comes to time management. In order to help with prioritization, Dr. Lyon suggests using two keywords:
Urgent: If something is urgent, it needs to be done as soon as possible. It takes precedent over tasks that are less time sensitive.
Important: Something that is important means it is necessary or beneficial. If an important task doesn’t get completed, it can worsen our quality of life or even make a situation unsafe.
OK, now that we know how to classify our to-do list, Dr. Lyon recommends making a list of tasks that you’d like to accomplish in an ideal day. Put everything on the list! Then give the item one of the following four labels.
1) Urgent and important
Things that are urgent and important are time sensitive and essential to your life. Paying the power bill is an example of a task that is urgent and important. It has to be done by a certain date or your power may be disconnected. Taking the kids to school is another example of something that could be urgent and important.
2) Important but not urgent
Some things are important, but not necessarily urgent. It may be important to you to write your friend a card for her birthday, but if her birthday is still a few weeks away this is not an urgent task. Organizing your closet is another great example Dr. Lyon shares with us. Organizing your closet can make your home tidier and help lower stress, making it important, but it isn’t time sensitive.
3) Urgent but not important
In some instances, others can press their urgent tasks on to us. Maybe your daughter forgot to mention that there was a bake sale for school and now she’s requesting you to bake three dozen cookies for her by tomorrow. This is urgent, because it is time sensitive, but it is not important. It can feel very important, but in most cases the school bake sale will survive without your cookies.
4) Not urgent and not important
According to Dr. Lyon, more of our daily routine than we think actually falls into this fourth category – not urgent and not important. Watching TV, scrolling through social media and browsing the web may be relaxing, but they aren’t usually urgent or important. It’s not bad to sometimes do these things, but they should still be recognized as something that’s not critical to your life.
Once your list is written and labeled, Dr. Lyon advises double checking your list or even asking a loved one for an unbiased opinion. “Sometimes,” says Dr. Lyon, “our desire to care for others can make us mislabel a task as urgent and important, when it really might be just one or the other (or neither).
Now it’s easier to prioritize your to-do list and make time for your health. All the urgent and important tasks need to be completed first, but then you can start on your list of things that are simply “important.” Items on the important list that have to do with a healthier and happier you should be the first things to get checked off that list. “Ultimately, the key to a successful life ,” Dr. Lyon notes, “is understanding that it’s really important to know which things to make a priority, even if they’re not urgent. Self care isn’t selfish,” he continues, “Think about it as an investment for your future. You’ve got to take the time to exercise. You have to take the time to eat right. You have to take the time every day.”
Time management can take practice, but it will start to get easier… and once good health is part of your routine, you’ll never want to leave it off your to-do list again.
To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.
To sign up for our free online email program to learn the science of weight management, click here.