Whenever I start getting overwhelmed by my life and my schedule (not surprisingly, this happens … oh, daily), I close my eyes and repeat this affirmation and it calms me down.
I have an incredibly busy life – I run our business, I manage our household, I have a very active 11-1/2 year old, I am training for a karate black belt and endurance events, I have a relationship, friendships, and once in a while I like to devote a moment or two just to ME! And yet, like everyone else out there, I only get 24 hours in each day.
So how do you create the time in each day to accommodate the things you have to do, the things you should do, PLUS the things you want to do?
Of course, there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question, but here are my…
- Turn off the TV!! In my previous life, we had a 1500 square foot, 1-story house and there were FOUR televisions in it!! One in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in our bedroom, and one in Josh’s bedroom… REALLY? Yes, really! And if anyone was home, one (or more) of them was on. When I think back to how many hours I wasted in front of the Food Network, HGTV, and FoxNews, it really kinda makes me want to throw up!! When I moved in with Deb and found out that she had disconnected the cable a few months prior because of the amount of time it sucked out of her and the girls’ lives, I sorta hyperventilated for a moment. What on earth? But I was so surprised at how quickly I forgot about it. We have televisions in our house, but we only use them to watch DVDs. So, don’t ask me for my thoughts on the new season of American Idol because I do not have a clue!
- Automate your finances. If you have bills each month where the amount you pay is the same all the time (or even if they’re not), put them on auto-pilot and then just balance your checkbook once per month. This saves me a TON of time every month since I don’t have to write the checks or go to the websites to make the payments.
- Turn off Facebook, Pinterest and Email. GASP!!!! I confess that I still struggle with this one, but I have gotten A LOT better!! It is absolutely incredible to me how much of my day used to get sucked into the great void when I would sit down in front of Facebook and Pinterest! Some people do the same thing with YouTube (now make sure you don’t unhook the cable and then replace TV time with YouTube time!!). If you limit your social media time to 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night just think about how much extra time that will create. Email is the same – 2 block of email checking and response time.
- Get Flexible. Can you go from working (5) 8 hour days to working (4) 10 hour days? Redistributing that 5th work day gives you an entire DAY in your week to do what you want to with! VERY cool if you can swing it!
- Wake up early or stay up late. I would never be able to stay up late – I’m just not a night owl, but I can easily get up at 4:00 a.m. a few times per week. I find that I can often get as much accomplished between 4:00-6:30 a.m. (when the rest of the house wakes up) as I can the entire rest of the day! Plus, those first hours of the morning a MY most creative, so I can get a lot of writing accomplished then. Other people might find the same benefit by tacking on a couple of hours at the end of their day after everyone else has gone to bed.
- Learn to say “No” “No” is a beautiful word. I had a bad habit of trying to be all things to all people. I tend toward being a “people pleaser,” and if someone would ask me to do something, especially at church, I would generally do it, regardless of how inconveniencing it may have been. Once I learned the power of saying “No” to things that did not advance me in the direction I wanted to go and started valuing my own time, I found that others did too.
- Declutter and Organize! Trying to find something in a cluttered, disorganized mess wastes a lot of time. I found this to be the case in the kitchen and on my desk especially. Over the holidays, I went through the kitchen and purged, re-arranged, and organized. I alphabetized spices, categorized pantry shelves, rearranged the refrigerator (especially the out of control condiment shelves on the door), and just generally “Martha Stewart”ized. It proved to be a major timesaver! I probably save on average 15-20 minutes per day that I would have spent trying to find things (yeah, it was THAT bad).
- Systemize! Create systems that make life easier. For instance, put your keys and your cellphone in the same place when you walk into the house. They will never get lost again! We have a spot on the kitchen counter just as we are heading to the garage where we aggregate things for errands. On any given day you might find a shopping list, a check that needs to be deposited, the materials that we need to take to a meeting, Josh’s swim bag, etc. Because they are in a central location and because we are training to look at that counter before we leave the house, it makes it easy to grab and go and remember the trivial things that might otherwise be forgotten.
- Break It Down. I don’t know about you, but when I have a big project ahead of me, I tend to feel a bit daunted – ESPECIALLY when time is tight. That daunted feeling kicks my procrastinator inclination into high gear. Oh, I’ll do that this weekend when I have more time. Yeah, right!! But nearly every big project out there can be broken down into lots of LITTLE projects that don’t take much time at all. If I see “Write for 30 minutes” or “Write about Commitment Sheet” on my to do list, I have a much easier time getting started than if “Write Next Book” was on my list!
- Use a Commitment Sheet. This goes back nearly 100 years and is a technique used by lots of super successful people. Each night, before you go to bed, but after the day is pretty much done, write down the 6 things you need to do the next day in order to advance you toward your goals in priority order. Then the next day, work from #1 to #6 in order until all the tasks are complete. This stupid, simple tool has skyrocked my own personal productivity and I’ll bet it will do the same for you!
If something is important to you, you always find the time for it. I hope these ideas help you come up with some new ways to create time in your own life for whatever it is you want to do with it!