Prioritize Your Time to Win Your Life
Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? That’s basically a rhetorical question. There aren’t! The sooner you realize you can’t do everything for everyone and be at peace with the fact that you can increase your happiness through your choices, the more time you will feel like you have. I have done a lot of work on this over the past two years in order to help me achieve some of the goals I have related to my business.
I work full time, have a side business with my best friend, have a teenage daughter, husband, book club and more! Lately I have been feeling like I was not making much progress on the business, so when I came across an episode on my favorite podcast, The Science of Success titled Reclaim Your Time & Take Back Control of Your Life in 30 minutes, I was intrigued!
The interview was with Laura Vanderkam , who is an author and speaker focusing on time management. Here are the takeaways I got from listening to the podcast and also watching her TedEx talk on YouTube.
Forget saving time
There are plenty of resources on the market today with tips and tricks on “saving time” in your day. While there may be ways to shave a few minutes here and there, you can likely find other ways to gain big chunks of time. One thing that I started this week was not getting my phone off the charger in the morning when I get up. I noticed that I was wasting my time in the morning either checking email, browsing social media, or playing games instead of reading or writing. There were some days that I ended up late to work because I was so caught up playing Wordscapes! How ridiculous is that?!? Now the phone stays in my room and I am getting a great start to my day, doing exactly what I wanted.
Start a Time Diary
Studies have shown that people vastly overestimate the time they are spending on tasks, including the amount of time they exercise and work. In a study conducted by the Monthly Labor Review in 2011, people tend to overestimate their work hours by 5-10% and the more you said you worked, the more hours you tended to overestimate. To see what you are working with, Vanderkam suggests starting a Time Diary to track the time you are actually spending to help you see where your time is currently going.
Once you start to identify how much time you are spending on different activities, you will very likely find areas that you can cut to make time for what you want to do. I have identified an hour in the morning before work that has helped me finally start my goals journal! I have been wanting to get that going for a least 4 months. I spent a lot of time lying to myself about how I didn’t have the time, but after actually assessing what I am doing I noticed I had plenty of it.
Time is your choice
Sure, some things you can’t avoid. Going to work during your scheduled hours is a non negotiable if you would like to continue earning a paycheck for example. There are 168 hours every day. As Vanderkam points out, after sleeping an optimum 8 hours and working 40 a week, you have 72 hours left in the week.
I don’t have time means it’s not a priority. It sounds harsh but it’s so true. I have definitely heard this before, but I am starting to realize it is incredibly true. I have been prioritizing happy hour with friends and binge watching “You” on Netflix rather than writing and exercising! When you really start thinking about what you are doing towards your goals everyday and realizing you are the one deciding not to take action it’s profound.
Make sure the actions you are choosing are furthering your goals. Whether it’s a personal goal, one specific to your family, or to your career. One of the ideas from Vanderkam is to think about reviewing your life a year from now. If you were writing a year end review for work, what would be 3-5 things you want to have accomplished? You can do the same exercise for personal goals, family goals and if you are like Michelle and I, goals for your side business.
Think through your week before it happens. Plan in where you can move your priorities forward. What can you do today, tomorrow and the rest of the week to move you a little closer to where you want to be? If requests come to you that would prevent you from getting the things done that you have identified, be strict about saying no.
Quit letting others influence your time
Friends, family, co-workers - they will monopolize your time if you allow them to. When someone asks you if you are free, don’t just think about if you actually don’t have something planned. Think about what it is they are asking you to do. First, do you even want to do it? I have such a struggle with this because I am a people pleaser and just want everyone to be happy.
The issue with that is, I have some pretty lofty goals. I Want to be a top performer at work, grow a business to epic success, be a great mom, an attentive and supporting wife, and focus on my health and wellness. Getting all that done takes time and focus. While I love hanging out, I am saying no to other priorities if I say yes.
Your friends and family may get annoyed with you or hurt that you aren’t spending as much time with them, but you have to put your own priorities first in order to accomplish them. If they fault you for improving yourself, then it probably will be more helpful for you to spend less time with them.
I listened to this podcast Thursday morning on the way to work and I can honestly say I have accomplished more towards my goals than I have in months! It is also giving me clarity on some of the opportunity costs I had been dealing with. I am so excited to continue using this method and I totally want to read her book!