Do you wonder how people get so much done when you struggle to find time? That is because they don’t find time, they make time. I know that I am fortunate in working for myself, I don’t have as many instances of people scheduling meetings for me to attend. Some of what I’m going to say won’t translate 100% to an office job, but I hope you can still gain some knowledge from what I have learned.
You can take control of your day, or you can react to your day. If you start your day reading the news, on social media, or replying to emails, you are reacting to your day. The best way for me to start my day is with time spent meditating, journaling, and/or reading. I have found it really grounds me. After I pour into myself, I am able to tackle my to do list. I personally have found the best way to start my day is to actually make sure my schedule has tomorrow’s to do list written before I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning, I know exactly what I need to do first.
There has been a lot of research about how effective time blocking is for productivity. You block your day into several hour chunks. This block is for cleaning the house, this block for working out and this block for family time. Teaching fitness classes throughout the day does not lend itself to time blocking. Sometimes, I have a 1 hour break sandwiched between 2 classes. I have found scheduling my time works better for me. If you are wanting a digital time blocking method, check out these five that Zapier put together.
I commonly hear that people want more freedom in their day. Personally, I have found that scheduling my day has provided more flexibility. If a friend calls and wants to go for a walk, and I have scheduled to write a blog post, reply to emails, and write some workouts, I can still say yes. Knowing that later in the day/week, I need to make time for those missed tasks. Scheduling my time has been a cyclical process, where I schedule every hour to where I enjoy the “white spaces”. Especially having the kids home all day, I am in a season of white space. I schedule classes, appointments, and workouts. On the side of my schedule, I write my to do list for the day. Ideally, you should have 3-5 big tasks each day. My big tasks are marked with an asterisk, or written in a different color.
Front loading my week with tasks is my favorite success tip. By accomplishing the biggest, most difficult tasks on Monday, I end up with more free time later in the week. The flip side, if my Monday is full of meetings or meltdown children, I have four more days to make up for that time. I find a lot of freedom and flexibility in knowing what I need to do for the week, even when I don’t complete the tasks on the day I originally planned.
I also break tasks down super small. Never am I going to have the time to clean, organize, sort, etc every cabinet in my kitchen. By writing down individual drawers, or a couple drawers together, I am more likely to get that smaller task done. Before you know it, I have an entire room done and it feels great. If organizing your house is a priority, I suggest starting in the kitchen with Beatriz.
As I mentioned above, I schedule my workouts like appointments. If I have a free block of time from 8 to 11 in the morning, I do best scheduling a run around 815. It prevents me from getting distracted and not making it out the door on time. Due to my stomach issues, I really need to consider my meal times, which helps me get out the door to workout. The longer I stall, the longer I’d have to wait to eat.
If you are a parent and working outside the home, you may find that your day from 7 am to 6 pm is getting kids ready for school, working, doing homework with kids, and making dinner. This may cause you to feel like time blocking isn’t ideal for you, but I promise it is. When you are getting the kids ready for school, if you knew you had to start laundry or make a meal plan, you might put your phone away and get up off the couch. It’s like a financial budget. If you don’t have enough income to pay all your bills in the month, you need to budget and see where you are really spending your money. Time is even more valuable than money, if you don’t have time in a week to complete tasks that are necessary or important to you, you need to reevaluate where you are spending your time.
Avoiding time sucks is so hard these days, but ever more important. I am not against television, but do not watch much tv at all. Part of that is because I don’t have the attention span to sit through multiple shows, but I also don’t make the time for it. Now, I do have a few shows that I enjoy and will catch up on from time to time. I can easily go weeks without watching tv though. Social media is a huge one for most people. I don’t do a lot of social media on my computer, unless I’m scheduling content and creating facebook events. So I have set limits on my phone. Allowing myself to access news, games, social media, and my web browser from 7 am to 8 pm. Tracking how much time I spend on my phone through my iPhone settings. It quickly puts into perspective how much a person picks their phone up.
A great thing to schedule yourself is email time. I don’t get push notifications to my phone when people send me emails. I need to open the app for it to check for new messages. A few times a day, I plan to check my email and reply to urgent ones. At least twice a week, I schedule time to go through my emails. Deleting, unsubscribing, and filing emails as needed.
In many areas of my life, I try to be a green and sustainable as possible. When it comes to my schedule though, I need it on paper. It needs to be where I see it multiple times a day too. If my office wasn’t in my house, I would probably even consider having an at home calendar and an at work one. Even my husband will walk into the office and look at my calendar to see what is planned. This could also be because he often finds kids activities and appointments that I didn’t put into the online family calendar. When I have errands to run, I will take a screen shot of my to do list and make sure I stay on task while out of the house.
Where have you found to make time in your life? What are your actions telling you that your priorities are? Anything you’d add to my list?