If there’s one thing everyone seems to lack it’s time. Even though technology has automated so many tasks and you can buy virtually anything online, people in developed countries are more time-poor than ever before.
According to The Economist, it’s actually a problem of perception. It’s argued that you actually have more time on your hands than ever before, but if this is true, why do you feel so rushed and overworked? Why do you feel like there are never enough hours in the day?
I am no time management guru, but here are a few tips I’ve found helpful when it comes to making time.
Take an inventory of everything you do in your week
Author and blogger Kelly Exeter suggests this tactic in her book: Your Best Year Ever: 7 simple ways to shift your thinking and take charge of your life. Where are you wasting time? You might be surprised at how you spend your time and how much time tasks like washing the dishes actually take as opposed to the time you waste sitting in front of a computer or TV. How long do you spend each day scrolling the Facebook newsfeed or catching up on emails? Small tasks can waste a lot of your time. If you track your time like you would your food if you were contemplating going on a diet, you might find you’re wasting a lot of time on meaningless, pointless tasks.
Ditch the TV for a day (or a week… or a year)
It’s amazing how much time the box can waste. You get sucked into show after show. In the days of TV-on-demand, it’s easy to binge on Downton Abbey or Call the Midwife. We lived without a TV for 18 months and it was amazing how much more productive I was. I kept up with important news via Twitter and lost interest in who won Survivor. It was liberating! The problem with a TV is that when it’s there, it’s usually on and through its power of distraction, it can become a massive time suck.
Schedule tasks and appointments in batches
It’s hard to shift gears and do different tasks throughout the day. So what if you dedicated your days to specific tasks. For instance, you could make Fridays bill paying day or Mondays bathroom cleaning days. You could make Tuesdays shopping days and Wednesdays baking days. Schedule bill paying and account keeping on the same day every week and you’ll soon start to see how much more you can achieve in any given day. Don’t forget to schedule in some time for yourself too.
Systemise repetitive home tasks
Take clothes off the washing line in order of person and fold them as you go. That way they’re ready to put away as soon as you get inside. If you are able, hire a cleaner, even if just to get you over the hump of your dishes and bathrooms once every couple of weeks. You’ll be amazed at how much time that creates. Shop online and regularly cull your clutter. Get the family involved in caring for the home. Make lists, make challenges and have clothes folding parties. You are not a slave, so don’t perpetuate the myth that keeping things tidy is all on you.
Say “no” to anything that takes you away from your priorities and your family if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Outsource what you can, and say “no” to anyone who tries to pull you away from what is most important in your life. A good friend and mentor, Alison Vidotto, once told me that if you say “yes” to other people’s priorities, you are saying “no” to your children, so whatever you’re saying yes to better be worth the time you miss with your loved ones.
Start an online business
Create something once and sell it over and over again rather than work in an office every day.
Many people still believe that in order to earn good money you need to work like a slave. This is simply not true. There are many many opportunities to be had in the internet economy. Find one that resonates for you and kickstart a little business to see what you can do to both free up your time and provide extra income for your family, without going off to work for hours every day. I actually wrote a book that walks you through how to do this. It’s called Your Brilliant Un-Career: Women, Entrepreneurship, and Making the Leap. There’s also a podcast show by the same name featuring interviews with many entrepreneurs who have made the leap into a lifestyle business. If you have a dream, go for it.
Say “yes” to your child when he or she asks you to come and see something or play with them.
A few minutes of your undivided attention may be all your child needs. If you have a lot on your plate, you might feel like it’s a distraction or even an annoyance at times, but the hours of pestering will take up more of your energy and time, believe me. If play takes more time that you anticipate, you can set some boundaries. It’s okay to tell your child, “I can play for 10 minutes but then I have to go and get stuff done.” If that stuff is truly important, you can stick to this, but if you get lost in building lego then that’s okay too. Either way, you’ll be showing your kids they are worth your time.
Day 1 Challenge:
What one thing can you do today to create more time? Write it down, stick it on your fridge and don’t forget to share what you accomplished on Facebook, even if it was just that you wrote down your time challenge goal… that in itself is worthy of a high five.