How to Make More Time
By Triantafillia Memisaki
Whether you’re male or female, single or taken, in the fast-paced times we live in it’s hard for everyone to do all the things that really matter to us. So many tasks compete for our attention and every single one of them demands our most precious commodity – our time. We’ve been conditioned to think of time as something that must be searched for amid the chaos of errands, jobs and responsibilities that inundate our schedules (“I must find time to…”), when the simple truth is that time can be manufactured. You can MAKE time to do the things you really want! And it’s easier than you’d think.
Take a moment to think about what you actually do every day. Not just vaguely. Actually make a list. If at first it feels like it’s all one huge hectic haze, then it might help to keep a sort of journal. As you do things throughout the day, add that task to your journal, complete with the time you started and the time you finished. After about a week (I would personally suggest two weeks, for good measure), look back on your list and take note of what you see. Honestly evaluate if you are spending time on things that matter or if you’re just doing things out of habit. If you find anything that is pointless, focus on making an effort to stop doing that in the future. It would help to let someone close to you know you are trying to stop that particular task, so they can call you out on it, if they catch you doing it again.
Essentially this tip is to help you find your time wasters. You’d be surprised how much time can be freed up by eradicating a couple of bad habits. A few things you can use as examples to give you an idea of what to look for are: TV, video games, social networks and other “fun” stuff online, etc.
Sometimes we get caught up in things that we don’t even want or need to do. Never underestimate peer pressure, guilt and sheer force of habit. If you ever catch yourself thinking “I’m really not in the mood to (…) right now, but all my friends are doing it, so I might as well”, or “It would be nice to learn how to (…). You never know when that might come in handy”, or even “I’m so tired, but if I don’t (…) then (…)”, then it’s time to re-evaluate your reasons for doing these things in the first place. If you really don’t want to do it, then why force yourself? All this sort of mindset it accomplishing is using up time you could have spent doing something you actually WANT to do.
This is really just an extension of the previous tip. If you aren’t obligated by your employer to do the task in question and it’s not your responsibility as a parent, then maybe you should consider the possibility that you might not really have to do it at all. Who says you have to iron every single item of clothing that came out of the drier? Is there are law that says you must go jogging every single morning without fail? The answer is a very robust “no”. Keep that in mind next time you wonder why you don’t have enough time to even make yourself something to eat.
As a fellow control-freak, I understand how painful it can be to assign tasks to people who can’t do them as well as you can. Here’s the thing, though: What exactly will ensue if the dishes aren’t stacked in a certain order in the dishwasher? Or if the carpet gets vacuumed against the grain instead of with it? Hint: the same thing that will happen if you skip a jogging session or if you pretend you didn’t notice those dirty dishes. Absolutely nothing. If you are one of those lucky people who have spouses, children or friends, you have a whole army of prospective people to delegate to.
Thankfully, our world has become so service-oriented that you can literally find someone or something to help lighten your load, no matter what the task is. You can order your groceries online and have them delivered to your door. You can hire someone to clean your house (you’d be surprised how inexpensive some of them are, when you look into it). You can use a laundry service. Or even an errand service! Can you sincerely tell me it’s not worth all the time you’d be freeing up to actually live your life?
I am essentially suggesting you multitask. Yes, buses and trains have schedules of their own and you usually have to adjust to them. But instead of being a slave to the wheel, you can sit back and spend the whole trip catching up with tedious paperwork, or – if you’d rather indulge instead – reading a book or listening to music. Either way, it would mean you don’t have to do those things when you’re home. Or you could officially make that your “alone time” and just relax while doing absolutely nothing.
Ignore the voices in your head insisting that you make sure every task you complete is absolutely flawless. Some things really don’t have to be. Really. I’m not kidding. When what you’re working on is good enough, stop. Usually, we don’t get any bonuses or even appreciation for the extra work we put in, so why not settle for just doing what you need to do, instead of making up self-imposed rules that only add to your stress levels?
And don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for it! Guilt gets you every time and can make you stuff your schedule like a turkey. Everyone and their grandmother will try to get you to do things for them (usually because they want to empty their own schedule) or with them, but you rarely have any real obligation to say yes. If your schedule is just where you want it (or much fuller than you’d like), allow yourself the right to politely decline.
Some people just have no boundaries – or way too much time of their own – and they will suck you dry, if you let them. Most of those people are already identified as “time wasters”, so make the most of things like “caller ID” and avoid these people. If you know when the “chatty clerk’s” shifts are, avoid shopping during those hours, or avoid that store altogether if you don’t. If you are familiar enough with these time wasters, you could respectfully let them know you’re busy. It wouldn’t be inappropriate. If you don’t know them personally, then why should it bother you if they take offense anyway? Just tell them you are busy and can’t chat. End of discussion.
I’m sure you know the results of procrastination all too well. Not only does putting off tasks waste time, but it also creates undo stress and leaches on your energy. If you have tried to battle this problem and it always seems to win, try watching these helpful videos that provide tips depending on what type of procrastinator you are: “How to stop procrastinating – What’s Your Style?” (by Bukroot)
This isn’t a time saving technique. It’s a time MAKING technique, which is even better! If there is something you feel you don’t spend enough time doing and it always seems to get postponed every time something more pressing comes along… schedule it into your calendar and treat it as though it were a business meeting. I know it sounds a little crude to essentially schedule an appointment with your friends or your kids, but trust me when I say it works wonders. The mere fact that you designate a precise amount of time (make sure it’s adequate) appointed specifically for spending time with people you want to see more, means you will treat it with the respect it deserves. And make sure you schedule it during hours that are not your busiest, to make sure you are not interrupted and tempted to bump it again.
There are specific hours that pretty much everyone in town decides to run certain errands. The bank, the supermarket and pretty much everything else all have their own “peak hours”. They tend to be the most convenient hours of a particular day of the week, which means you end up spending a lot of your time merely standing in line, waiting your turn. If you bite the bullet and go during hours or days that no one else wants to (during a rainy day, night time or mid-morning), you will be rewarded with less time waiting and more time actually getting your errands completed.
I know it’s tempting to simply do things as they come to you. There’s always that chance that you won’t remember to do it later on and it won’t get done at all. But if you take the extra time to put certain tasks that are alike in a group, it will actually SAVE you time. For example, if you have to run three errands down town, schedule them all at one instead of different days of the week. If you have three different things to do in a specific room, do them all while you’re there, so you don’t have to go back and forth around the house. It might sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised just how many tasks we don’t even realize are alike until we’ve already wasted time on them. The “I should’ve picked up the milk while I was downtown making that deposit” regret is all too tragic.
I know what you’re thinking: “Do menial tasks during my free time? Sacrilege!” But take a moment to think about it. Just like the previous tip, if you use certain ingredients again and again in your meals throughout the week, you are wasting time putting it all together from scratch every time. But if you chop all your salad veggies during the weekend and put them in neat little bowls or baggies, then all you’ll have to do is mix the ingredients together and add some garnish after a busy day at work. You can pre-package eggs, chicken, fruit, vegetables, and pretty much anything else you need all at once and then you’ll have pre-packaged snacks or ingredients ready to be put together into a quick meal any time you want for the rest of the week. It also reduces the dishes, which is always a plus!
When you are tired or frustrated you can’t complete tasks as quickly or as efficiently as when you’re energized and motivated. When you don’t keep your energy levels on full, you find yourself taking forever to finish a simple task or – worse – repeating tasks you’ve already finished, because you didn’t do them well enough the first time. Nothing wastes more time than that! Because there are certain things that tend to suck all the energy and motivation out of us, leaving us incapable or unwilling to do the things we really like, even if we have the time to spare, these energy leaks need to be eradicated, delegated or done in an entirely different way. Sometimes the things we do during our down time actually rob us of our remaining vigor instead of revitalizing us. Really take the time to think about how you feel after spending some time “kicking back”. If you don’t feel any calmer or livelier (or worse – if you actually feel more tired) than when you sat down, find something else to do instead. Try things out until you find something that truly makes you feel relaxed and re-energized.
There are people out there who have filled up their schedules to the point where they have actually given up on ever finding time to just do something for themselves. You may very well be one of those people. But don’t despair. When you realize just how much more productive and happy people who have “me time” are, you will treat is as the blessed gift that it is. It’s not supposed to be a luxury. And it most certainly should NOT be considered a waste of time. You have a sacred duty to yourself and to those who care about you to not only make sure you have “me time” every day, but also to make the most of it. Convince yourself that it’s a priority more important and vital than any other on your schedule, and never skip or postpone it. You will definitely not regret it. In fact, you will come out of it feeling ready to conquer the world!
- “How to Make Time for Yourself” By Modernmom
- “Make More Time for Yourself” by By Elizabeth Fenner
- “How to Make the Time for Your Personal Goals” By ZenHabits
- “10 ways to make more time for yourself – start today!” By Jenni Prokopy
- “Women Entrepreneurs: How to Make Time for Yourself–and Why You NEED To!” By Melissa McCreery, PhD, ACC