Where Did the Time Go?
Now that summer is coming to an end you might be asking yourself where did the time go? Our vision of summer includes time for fun and relaxation but often while we might be blessed with opportunities they are often crowded out by countless distractions. So here are some tips on creating some extra free time in your schedule. Which fun activity is up to you to choose!
1 – Take a step back. Make a list of all the activities you have longed to do – going to the beach, volunteering, or just getting an hour all to yourself. Rank them in order of importance and then pick one or two to focus on first. Now write down all the things you really do with your time. It might start out looking like, makelunchdrivetoworkrunerrandstakekidstosports, one big blur of activity. The key question to keep asking yourself is, “Am I spending my time on the right things?”
2 – Identify what you can let go of. It might be challenging but you will find it liberating. Research has shown that to be both productive and creative, you must make time for recreation and relaxation. Forgetting these reduces your motivation and leads to procrastination. Since you can’t put more time on the clock you need to create the space in your schedule. Ask yourself, what can I delegate or outsource? What can I do less well? Instead of focusing on doing everything perfectly, focus on doing the really important things at least adequately. For example, instead of always trying to create a gourmet meal, go for the simple pasta and be more present with the people you are eating with.
What distractions can you eliminate? First move, shut the door. With less interruptions you can gets tasks completed in less time. Also, resist the urge to check emails constantly. Instead plan to check them twice a day. At noon and the end of your workday are when you are most likely to have responses to messages you may have sent. At home, put down the devices. This is really challenging in today’s technological environment, but give it the effort.
3 – Reschedule your schedule. Establish a few non-negotiables such as 7 hours of sleep, or a night out for dinner or a movie. You just have to take control. One time saving tip is to create a daily to-do list on a 3×5 index card focusing on the three to five most important things you can realistically accomplish. And make sure at least one of them is time spent on your self-care. You can put an easy one at the top of the list so that you can check that off right away and feel a sense of accomplishment. Your second task should be the “big” one of the day. Once you get that one done, it will feel like you are headed downhill. Also, challenge your list by seeing if there is one thing that you could delegate or drop. Finally, at the end of the week, review your cards and see how realistic and successful you were at finding that extra leisure time.
4 – Be prepared. Now that you have started on this new path be prepared for it to be challenged. To ensure that you don’t get derailed, try these strategies:
- If you find yourself avoiding something, force yourself to work on it for a short period of time – even just five minutes. Once you realize you have moved past the anxiety of starting you just might find the motivation to follow it through.
- Break tasks into smaller pieces. The optimal amount of time to spend on a project is 40-90 minutes. After that you need a break to recharge your battery. Take a short walk, get a drink of water. When you give yourself incremental deadlines you are more likely to get tasks done faster.
- Take rest seriously. Eight hours is the goal. When you are well rested you will be more efficient. When you are tired your mind tends to be scattered and increases the idea that you don’t have enough time.
- And last, but not least – don’t worry, be happy. Those who report they are happiest are those who make time for themselves.
And here are some closing thoughts:
“In the morning, I say: ‘What is my exciting thing for today?’… Don’t ask me about tomorrow.” ~ Barbara Jordan
“The whole life of man is but a point of time; let us enjoy it.” ~Plutarch
“If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.” ~Maria Edgeworth
“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”
~Ralph Waldo Emmerson
Until next time…