09/11/2012 03:31 EDT | Updated 11/06/2012 05:12 EST

The Slacker's Guide To Success -- Step Six: How to Beat Your Time Stealer

2012-08-17-KenRabowSGTS.jpg This is the sixth installment of The Slacker's Guide To Success, based on my work with teens, young adults and their families. The introduction can be found here. The other chapters are available here.

So here you are. If you have been following this system you have:

1) assessed your strengths and challenges,

2) have found a mentor and chosen goals and ways of confirming success,

3) looked at your inner blocks that prevent you from achieving and started appropriate changes,

4) created a daily routine of positive exercises to mentally nourish and strengthen yourself,

5) gone out into the world meeting people and working on your interests.

Now meet your greatest challenger: the time-stealer. He (or she) is fun, charming, great to be with, someone you are happy to do things with, gets all your jokes, just all around great to kill time with. Yes, the time-stealer is a time-killer. You never get it back, and yet, you value the time spent with them.

What is their name? Friend, Video Games, T.V., Internet, Chat Rooms, etc., etc., etc. What? They have so many good qualities! You value your time with them. Being without them would suck. Big time! .... I couldn't agree with you more. No one should be punished for spending time with their time stealers.

We should value the time we spend with these stealers but time not measured is time badly spent. So, this step is about giving all of your wants and needs a time and space but in moderation.

Do stuff first!

How many times have you said; if I just do "a," then I'll do my "b." Time comes to go sleep and you never got to "b" 'cuz you got lost in "a." What do you do? Don't sweat it. Just resolve to do your daily routine things next time (and that includes work for your day gig, as well) then give time to your time stealer(s).

Stealers don't give up easily.

Time stealers like you. They know you appreciate them and so they want to "help" you see more of them. They won't just stop with your limits. All of a sudden, there is a week-end long magic card event for the new deck or the best RPG ever comes out and you get to beta-test...You get the picture and you know it always happens just when you decide to get serious.

Go for it! That's right. Do it but decide not to do the whole weekend but maybe a few hours. Abstaining from your time stealers means that your sub-conscious will find a way to trip you up, mess up your good stuff and have you decide: "Well, if that doesn't work, might as well go back to T.S."

Use your time stealers as a reward: If I do "x" amount of "y" then I can go play "z"!!

What do you do when your stealers are your hang-out buddies?

Setting limits is about giving people what they want at a time when it is good for both of you.

Just tell your friends that you are available at a certain time and get them and family used to the fact that when you are doing your work you are not available.

Killing ourselves with kindness.

One of the easiest ways to end up wasting time is because we thought our friends would feel bad if we didn't always make ourselves available to them when they were free.

Friends are so important but good friends want to see you achieve. Most of the times, they will be fine with a slightly different get-together time. Find out if it is ok. It usually is.

We sacrifice our time for people because of what we think is important to them.... Ask!

And now, meet the biggest time stealer you will ever meet in your life:!

That's right. You are your biggest challenge. Not friends, or the computer or anything else.

You have to decide on a purpose. It really doesn't matter if it's the right one. You can change it every month or every year, whenever you have found something better, but start right now!

Decide to make your time, on purpose. Set goals and don't let too much time drift away until those goals can be ticked off as done.

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for, that's the stuff life is made of". Benjamin Franklin

For Ken's free newsletter click here. For a podcast of this article click here. Graphics by Nick Robinson