We live in dynamic times where we are in constant race with time, and it gets more and more hectic. As we go through life we try to tame time. The fact is that it’s a lost battle because there is not time management, just self-management. Time goes on with our without us. If our goal is to have more time for the things and people who matter to us we need to learn how to multiply time.
Before we come up with a strategy it is important to find our priorities and plan ahead. I know that we are all busy and planning takes time, but I can assure you that it pays off in the long run. Especially if you are serious about taking control of your life, and not using lack of time as an excuse.
You might know people who are always on top of things and never say “I don’t have time”. Believe it or not these people exist. They are called multipliers.
The multipliers think what can I do today to make tomorrow better – for example I set my coffee machine in the evening and although it might look like a stupid routine, it saves me a minute or two in the morning. And this is one simple thing. Imagine if we apply this kind of thinking to our whole day. Then we start “earning our time back”. Then we become good at creating more time in our life. It becomes a lifestyle, a habit, something we don’t think about, just do it. Give yourself emotional permission to spend time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow.
How our calendar looks like is based on emotions, not logic. When we have a long list or create a busy day emotionally we are satisfied when we cross out the tasks from the list or don’t feel guilty for not using our time. Then we start telling ourselves that we don’t have time. It becomes our mantra, and over time it is the only thing we have made ourselves believe. We use it as the mother of excuses. Somehow we feel important when we say we are busy, but being busy isn’t always a good thing .
Where do we start to remove the clutter out of our day?
There is a simple 3 step system you can you can use Eliminate >Automate > Delegate
When you know your priorities and have clear goals, you should try to eliminate all the stuff that is not taking you closer to achieving those goals.
If you can’t eliminate it ask yourself if you can automate it. For example, set your bills to be paid online through your online banking or schedule repetitive weekly task once when you add it to your weekly calendar.
In business there are different indicators by which we measure performance. In life we can also use an indicator. It is called – ROTI (Return On Time Invested). If we use the Pereto principle we can say that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. It applies to all aspects of life. When we invest time in the beginning(the 20%) it might take way time from something else, but in future you start getting results with less and less effort, thus less time. If I can put it this way automation of your time is like compound interest is to your money.
Sometimes it is best if we let go of the sense of control and ask for help. If there is some task we can delegate or we can pay someone to get it done for us it might be the better choice.
The practical part
Become protective of your time. Warren Buffet said it in an interview that what has most value for him is time because he can’t buy anymore of it. His calendar looks empty for most of the time. Coming from one of the richest man in the world it sounds like a good advice to follow. You would say that he thinks like this because he can afford it. I would say that he can afford it because he thinks like this. One of the smartest people Einstein is a good example, too. Every time he would get stuck on a problem that he wasn’t able to solve, he would go out and spend 5-6 hours just walking and thinking. All of a sudden he would come with a breakthrough.
Schedule in your health! No matter what that is for you – a work out, biking, running, yoga, meditation, whatever it is, schedule it. There is a great TED talk that shares the story of a busy business woman with six kids. The presenter at that talk called her to talk to her, and she wasn’t available. You would think that it was because she was overwhelmed with work. Surprisingly the reason was that she was out for a hike.
Let’s take the worst case scenario where you work 60 hours a week and sleep 8 hours a night. In most cases neither of the two happens, especially the latter. Even if this is true, we are left with 52 hours per week. How we use them is what changes the game in every aspect of our life. If you spend “x” number of hours enjoying your favorite TV show don’t say you don’t have. Rather say, I prefer to do that instead of something else.
Schedule time for You. Time for to the beach, reading a book, some art, hiking, time with your dogs, cats, horses… wherever your happy place may be! Nowadays people are afraid to sit alone by themselves and do nothing. There is this fear of being bored. Take time to clear your head, think about nothing or spend time thinking about your life.
In order to start creating time for the things which matter in your life you need to find out what your priorities are. Here we go back to the ROTI. It might take some of your time now, sitting all alone and thinking about it. However, in the long run you are putting yourself in advantageous position for achieving your goals. How I do it is, every Sunday afternoon I schedule time in my calendar for all the task and activities. I have chosen a path of self-employed/business owner, but even if we are full time employee and have regular job blocking time outside of work can also be applied.
The last piece of advice might sound a bit controversial, but here I go.
Procrastinate. Yes, that’s right. We all have things that are of no significance, but we decide to do them. When we switch our focus to delaying them because it is not the right time to do them, then we start developing patience. Then not everything is urgent and requires our immediate and constant attention. Instead of sweating over the little things we allow ourselves to take care of the real business.
I understand that each person situation is different and we all face difficulties, but trust me all of the things above work. I am no different than any other person. I have a family and a child, I have worked in an office for over 10 years, I currently run my own business (actually a couple). I know what your struggles are because I have my own. This doesn’t change the fact that we can either take control of our life or let it pass by.
So change your language, change your attitude, start prioritizing!