Everyone I talk to complains about not having enough time for everything they want to do. What if there was a way to carve out some free time for yourself? What would you do with that time? Get more work done, write a blog, take a wine-tasting class, stare at the sky, sleep?
Whatever you decide to do with your new-found time…my guest blogger Dr. Shannon Reece says it’s possible! Dr. Reece trains women entrepreneurs to use their strengths to create successful businesses.
by Dr. Shannon Reece
Our lives are busy! You may be thinking that’s the understatement of the decade, as you try to read this post, while attending to three other things at the same time. But part of the reason our lives have become overwhelmingly full is because we have lost sight of the things that matter the most. Easy to do, amidst the noise and clutter you have to filter each day.
If you stop for a moment to think about all the projects, people, chores, emails, phone calls, texts, and media messages you spent time fielding today, I bet that about 70% of them are not on your list of highest priorities in life. But before you decide that life is about as good as it gets, check out my top 10 list of strategies to help you create some free time out of thin air.
1. Identify Your Highest Priorities – Running around, trying to be everything to everyone is only going to make you crazy. So carve out some quiet time and figure out what the top 5 things in your life are that you value above all else. (Hint: YOU and your well-being should be at the top of the list).
2. Do a Calendar Dump – Instead of double and triple booking your days with things that don’t support your highest priorities, take an hour to look at next month and do some dumping. Isolate everything that is related to your highest priorities. Then sift through the remaining items you have on the calendar, and determine what can be canceled, postponed or delegated.
3. Schedule “ME Time” – Since you are at the top of your list of highest priorities, schedule time to actually take care of yourself. (Hint: “ME time” is not working out if it’s not something that you love to do and find relaxing.) When you are rested, and refreshed on a regular basis, rather than running at 50%, you will find that you get tasks done in half the time or less, freeing up extra time to do the things you love.
4. Learn to use your words and just say No! – This one can be tough, especially if you tend to be a people pleaser like me. Before agreeing to yet another project or demand on your time, ask yourself how this activity is in alignment with your highest priorities. If it isn’t, but is something you’d like to do, then instead of just saying yes and overloading your plate, respond with an option that fits easily into your schedule.
5. Leverage Your Support System – Too often we neglect to look at the amazing support system we have all around us and completely under utilize. Take 5 minutes and create a list of everyone in your life (family, friends, neighbors, church, for-hire individuals) to whom you can turn for support. And then start asking. Admitting that you can’t do it all doesn’t make you a failure. Asking for help shows just how smart you are.
6. Outsource, outsource, outsource! – Sure you can do it all — but should you? Sometimes the easiest way to answer this question is by putting a dollar value on your time. I bet there are lots of things that fall outside your areas of strength, and take you away from the revenue generating activities where you should be investing your time. So you have to ask yourself if it is worth it to hire someone else to do the $10-15/hour work for you, so you can concentrate on the areas where you are needed most.
7. Create Systems – You can use systems in business and in life. They are simply ways to streamline repetitive activities to prevent you from reinventing the wheel each time. The added benefit is being able to easily delegate these tasks when you have them written down in detail.
8. Institute Power Hours – When time is short, and deadlines are pressing, laser-focusing your attention can be highly productive. Remove all distractions (turn off email reminders, set the phone to voicemail, etc.), set an egg timer or your watch for one hour, and go! When you know you have a finite amount of time to finish a task, and don’t get pulled away from it for 60 minutes, you will find that you often finish before time’s up.
9. Listen to Your Internal Clock – You know when you are most alert, and when your energy wanes throughout your day. Schedule your more complex and high value activities during your high energy times, and less crucial tasks when your energy is lower.
10. Give Yourself Permission – None of the strategies I’ve outlined above will help you a bit if you are unwilling to give yourself permission to take and enjoy free time. This process begins when you believe you are worth high self-care. Taking time for yourself is not about being selfish. It’s about understanding that order to perform at your best for the ones you love when they need you, you have to take care of yourself first.
Peak performance psychologist and former competitive athlete, Dr. Shannon Reece is a leading authority on how smart women can launch and grow their business in a man’s world, leveraging their unique strengths to drive peak performance. Find Shannon at www.drshannonreece.com on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER.