Do you ever find yourself wishing for more hours in a day? I used to complain about this all the time---"there just aren't enough hours in a day!" I always found myself out of time at the end of the day, staying up late to get my work done and giving up sleep so I could work. I felt like a workaholic, and my husband definitely believed me to be one. But the truth was, I just couldn't get what I needed to get done in 24 hours and allow myself time to get a decent night's sleep. It was a vicious cycle.
It's really difficult to get your work done in 24 hours no matter if you're a small business owner or a professional. My schedule was the same for over twenty years no matter what role I was fulfilling:
- Wake up begrudgingly after hitting snooze about a dozen times;
- Shower and get ready for the day
- Get the kids to school (or to the babysitter, etc)
- Immerse myself in work for about 9 or 10 hours
- Dinner and family time
- More work after the kids went to bed
- Collapse way too late
You'll notice that nowhere in that schedule was I allowed time for self-care or fun (what's that???).
I remember the year I decided I needed more fun---I penciled it into my schedule and knew I needed to work longer that night.
I prayed for more time in a day. Unfortunately, Father Time informed me it would crash our economy to have to change the clocks and add a number 13. Besides, 13 is so unlucky that some buildings don't even have a 13th floor. (It's not a problem for me---I love the number 13!)
Anyhow. . .
Although I think it would be nice of Father Time to give me 26 hours in a day. . .I find myself with a lot more time to do what I need to do now. How is that possible?
I started on a program to obtain more time. And it doesn't involve using more calendars or giving something up. While I could simply say: Be Organized---it's not entirely true because I always considered myself a very organized person who simply had more to do than could get done in a day. But when I delved into specifics I found that there were 6 areas I needed to work on in order to solve my time problem:
- Purge everything from your life that takes up your time unnecessarily
- Be organized
- Make a Daily List
- Put your phone down
- Get a good night's sleep
- Start your day in a positive way
1. Purge everything from your life that takes up time unnecessarily:
The first thing I did to get more time is I started to purge. I realized that there were a lot of things that weighed me down that were interfering with my productivity. I evaluated what was bothering me and taking up my time---and I started to get rid of those things. So. . .Purge the junk from your house. Purge the papers from your office. Purge the toxic people from your life. Purge your friend's list on social media. Purge the activities you're doing that you don't want to, or shouldn't be doing. Purge your unhealthy eating habits. Purge your addictions. Purge the unnecessary items from your budget. Go on a big purging spree!
This is going to take you awhile---it's not an overnight or weekend thing--it's like a 6 month project (or more). Also, this is something you really need to think about and work on. You're basically working on yourself. I have accomplished most of this---although I'm still working on the papers thing. My life is filled with so many papers. . .the mail, my kid's homework and projects. . .my husband's mail. . .my office work. #thestruggleisreal . . .However, I've implemented a system for the papers that make purging easier. We'll go over this system in future posts.
With respect to your friend's list---I know this is one of the hardest things you can do. It's easy to hit unfriend on social media, but it's really hard to weed out a friend of 25 years. I had to do that and it takes some gumption. However. . .when you recognize the relationship is unhealthy for you and you realize you have this one life---well you make a CHOICE. The choice is yours to make and let me tell you. . .there's a lot of power in making that choice and taking control of your life.
2. Be Organized
Be honest, are you an organized person? By all means, don't upset the balance if you thrive on organized chaos. However, take a look around your office, house and car. . .is it organized? If you're spending unnecessary time looking for things on a regular basis, then you may need to spend a little time getting organized in order to gain time. The whole goal of this exercise is to find time in the time you already have. By organizing the parts of your life that you spend time on needlessly, you gain that time.
As I was purging the paper I realized that the things that were unorganized were bothering me and costing me time---either in thoughts worrying about them or in time because I couldn't find things when I needed them. Like when I needed items for my tax return and had to look through the big box I thought I had put all the important papers in (they weren't in there), then the pile of papers in the den, then the pile of papers in the kitchen and finally the pile of papers in the basement. Luckily I found them in the pile of papers in the bedroom. Ugh. . .if only I could get that day back! Then there were all of the bad feelings I had over the box of newspaper clippings I had taken possession of when my Grandma died in 2001 ----the box that lived on my bedroom floor since that time. Yes, I seriously had a box of newspaper clippings living on my bedroom floor for 15 years. I felt guilt over it because I didn't know what to do with them but I felt like I couldn't dispose of them. Then there were all the boxes of my kids' projects and papers that I had saved to put into their baby books. . . .and just hadn't gotten around to it in . . .well a very long time. See a pattern? Paper and unfinished projects were taking up my time!
So whether you need to rid yourself of paper or just organize it better, start using a calendar or a file management system----getting organized in the areas where you need it will free up your time.
3. Make a Daily List
For most of the years of my professional career I have used a daily list to help me achieve what I need to get done in a day and it has been a lifesaver. This can be done in any way that helps you---on a calendar or on a piece of paper next to your computer. Each day I write out the tasks I want to accomplish starting with the most important task and ending in things I know I may not get to, but it would be awesome if I did. The next day I repeat it with everything that was on my list from the day before that I didn't get done plus the new things for that day. Important Must Do's are at the top. As I go throughout the day my list is always nearby and I cross off the tasks as I accomplish them. The list method has helped me stay on track and get my work done. It is a life-saver when you're wondering what to do or find yourself procrastinating. By keeping it nearby it reminds you that there is no time to procrastinate.
4. Put Your Phone Down
Early on in my career I didn't own a cell phone. They weren't invented yet. (I know, I'm old). In fact, when I started my professional career my first phone was a car phone---attached in the car and only used in the car. So this cell phone thing is really fantastic. However, it's also a time-waster.
How many times a day do you look at your phone? When your're working on a project, where's your phone? When you're watching TV or at dinner or out to coffee with a friend, where's your phone? When you go to bed at night, where's your phone? If it's nearby in any of those instances, then it's probably killing your time.
Reducing my cell phone usage was a huge way for me to gain time in my day. When I work on a project, I just don't look at or answer my phone. What a way to interrupt a productive flow---being in the midst of some great work and stopping to look at the phone when it dings. When I realized I was scrolling through my news feed instead of doing my work or spending time immersed in a loved one. . .I stopped it. Now I feel like I have more time and it's amazing! I allocate specific times of day to check social media and have used the extra time to catch up on my reading or binge watch a Netflix show with my hubby (while you may think that watching TV is a time waster, it's actually a luxury for me especially when I can spend time I normally didn't get to with my hubby). I feel like I've somehow gained extra time when in fact I just cut out time I spent looking at my phone. Life is about experiences ---while it's nice to stay in touch with people, don't let excessive looking at your phone interfere with creating memorable experiences.
5. Get a Good Night's Sleep
I was used to being fueled on very little sleep and lots of caffeine. I imagine I could go on that way for a very long time; however, changing that cycle and getting more sleep has been a game changer. I have been a night owl my entire life and this year I decided to switch that. Since I HATE early mornings, I just couldn't waken at 5 am. I tried. It didn't work for me. So I decided on 6. That works for me. I go to bed at 11 pm and wake up at 6 am, now getting a full 7 hours of sleep. When you get enough sleep you can accomplish what you need to do during the day, your body gets a chance to repair and rejuvenate and you awaken ready to tackle your list. Sleep is a good thing.
6. Start Your Day in a Positive Way
What is the right way to start your day? Positively. I'm not here to tell you what to drink, eat or exercise. However, most successful people start each and every day with reading. For me, that reading used to be social media, which I have since cut out except at my allotted times. Instead, I now either read or listen to positive works for an hour while I make and drink my coffee, feed my dogs and get my kids out the door. I eat a healthy breakfast and get ready for my day and then embark upon it. I try to stick to the same routine every day.
The best change in my life this year has been starting my day by reading or listening to positive media. I believe a positive mindset is the key to getting what you want---including more time. If you are at a place in your life where you don't spend so much time on worry, anger and sadness---you will find more time. It's true---try it! When did sitting around and worrying ever help? It's a time-waster. Instead, think and live positively and not only will you find more time, you will find that the things you want will come to you.
I hope you enjoy these strategies I've used to find more time. Let me know how they work for you!