6 Essential Stages of Change to Help Create Effective Time Choices
By Paula Eder
Time management tips can prepare you to undergo changes - sometimes, profound
ones. Given how tumultuous times can be, the better you understand the process
of creating positive change in your life, the more effective your time planning
Consider this 6-stage model of change, initially developed by Professor James
Prochaska in 1997 to support people in overhauling their lives. Here is how you
can apply this model to effectively manage your time choices:
1) Precontemplation Stage
Many profound journeys to restructure time begin with simple dissatisfaction.
You know that "somehow," something isn't quite right. But you may have no idea
how your own time choices interfere with your effectiveness.
Perhaps you blame others. Perhaps you feel there is something wrong with
yourself that can't be changed. But what's important is that you realize you
want to make a change! So the exploration begins.
2) Contemplation Stage
Once you realize that changes in how you use your time can be made, you still
may be beset by self-doubts. Old patterns have trade-offs, after all. For every
change you want to introduce, some other time choice must be let go. It helps in
this stage to realize that you are the one in control. Take all the time you
need to weigh the pros and cons. As you clearly identify what must be given up,
you may find yourself more than ready to make the change. Affirm you can take
things one step at a time.
3) Preparation Stage
Next, you can take an active role in deciding what time choices you want to
incorporate into your life. This is an excellent time to review your values, and
how they translate into goals. Often, it's extremely helpful to prepare a set of
short-term goals that you know are a comfortable stretch, but not a strain.
4) Action Stage
Once you decide on a new time plan, you take active steps to establish and
maintain new time boundaries. Offer yourself lots of support, anticipate that
problems will present themselves, and factor in plenty of time to problem-solve.
When scheduling new activities, it is often wise to use the "Times 2 Rule".
Assume any activity will take twice as long as you think it will!
5) Maintenance Stage
In your eagerness to begin new activities, you may underestimate the effort
it takes to schedule them in on a regular basis. Like New Year's resolutions,
the best intentions require a wealth of support to become fully integrated into
your life. Plan on assessing your progress at regular intervals, and providing
yourself with lots of validation. If you find it helpful to use the buddy
system, trade support with friends as you work to put new time patterns to use.
6) Termination Stage
In this time management model, the termination stage doesn't mean
discontinuing your new activity. Continue to devote as much time as you need to
maintain your new schedule. Update your time choices whenever necessary. If you
successfully incorporate your new time habit into your life, it will become
automatic. In that case, congratulations! You can build on your success,
redirecting your energy to initiate a new time management project.
Now, ask yourself: How can you start restructuring your time choices today to
reach new levels of effectiveness?
To take your next step, sign up for our free gift, "The New Finding Time
Boundary Template: 9 Simple, Sequential Steps to Find More Time and Recharge
Your Energy!" at
Offered by Paula Eder, Ph.D. The Time Finder Expert.