Are you constantly feeling like you don’t have enough of it and want more? Or maybe it’s a guilty feeling of how you’ve spent it or not?
I know this feeling too well and I know how debilitating it can feel in our quest to find time for self care or the things we love. Here are 5 easy tips to implement if you’re ready to protect and respect your time!
The first tip is to break down the hours of your week.
Across seven days, we have exactly 168 hours. Let’s allocate 8 hours a day to sleep, that leaves 112. Say you work a 9-5, that leaves us with 74 hours. Let’s allow for 2 hours a day of commuting to and from and getting ready for work, that leaves us with 64 hours.
Let’s allow another 3 hours a day to eat/shower and personal daily hygiene activities every day. Maybe another hour for exercise every day as well including Sundays to be generous. That leaves us with a total of 36 hours unaccounted for, or just over 5 hours a day.
Regardless of whether you have more or less hours than the above example, it would be extremely useful for you to keep a log everyday of how you spent your time, for the next 7 days.
If you’re someone who is wishing they had more time to pick up a new hobby, spend time with loved ones, make more time for yourself, then this exercise is going to help you really pay attention to how you’re currently spending your time.
The goal here is to get a proper picture of how much spare time you actually have to play with. This is essential before embracing the next 4 tips, as it gives you a clear idea of the parameters you have to work with.
The second tip is getting clear on your priorities.
It’s important to break down our priorities into two categories – non-negotiables and wants. The first, non-negotiables, are the things you absolutely need to feel grounded on a weekly basis. This could be daily meditation, 5 workouts, an afternoon meal prepping and so forth.
We also need to look at how much time you need to allocate for that non-negotiable. Make a note next to the non-negotiable. The second column are priorities that are ‘wants’. These are things you may not necessarily need, but would really love to fit into your routine, say an extra night with friends during the week, an additional gym class or even more of something that’s a non-negotiable i.e. longer meditations if you are already meditating.
This column is for anything you’d love to fit into your week that you presently are struggling with. Try and also list these from most important to least important. You will see why this is crucial in the next tip.
The third tip goes hand in hand with the first two and that is to use time blocking.
Time blocking is where you map out your day with every minute or hour to hour, and make an intention or agenda for that time.
By doing this, you are actually freeing up your mental space and ensuring everything you want to achieve that day has a spot to get done – and yes that’s personal and social tasks as well as professional. You won’t be able to time block until you have done your priority lists, because if you started with time blocking, you may not be clear on all the things you actually want or need to fit in.
The risk here is if you end up having some free time, you might end up doing something that’s not aligned with how you want to be spending your time or prioritizing a want over a non-negotiable. When you’re clear on how much time you have and how you’d like to fill it or need to fill it, then you can map your days or weeks through time blocking. This is also relevant to the next tip which is about weekly reflection.
Tip four is all about reflecting and refining.
Say you’ve analyzed your 168 hours, then you make your priority lists with the knowledge of how much time you have, time block for the first week and get to the end of the week and feel completely exhausted. You then need to reassess how you’ve spent your time.
Maybe it is that you stacked too much on the week thinking it would fill your cup, provide more balance, but in fact it overwhelmed you. No two weeks are going to be the same, so I would strongly encourage you to keep a log of how you’re feeling about your planned time. We all experience those unexpected hectic weeks that feel like they throw everything out the door.
During these times, you will be able to clearly establish what to take off your schedule to give yourself more space and time because you will already know what activities are non-negotiable and what is purely a want.
This saves us from compromising on the things we need to be doing. Notice how it’s not about never feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but rather your ability to decide when certain things need to be taken off your week or time, and when other things need to be prioritized.
The fifth and final tip is all about awareness.
It goes hand in hand with reflecting but takes it to a deeper level. This is about bringing awareness to isolated activities and events. It’s simple- how do you feel after doing something? This relates particularly to our priority lists. The reason this is so important is because you are constantly growing and changing.
What serves you or grounds you today, may not be what does that in one year’s time. The only way we will know if something is still serving us is to notice how we feel after doing it. Sometimes we take too long to shake a habit, environment or friendship that isn’t serving us because we become so programmed and routined in doing the thing.
Truthfully, how often do you stop to ask if you’re actually enjoy doing something or if it’s serving you? In doing this regularly, you will have the capacity to test and try new priorities or even non-negotiables. This will give you a clear signal of when it’s time to pull back on something. It’s important to just notice these things to give ourselves the flexibility to grow with our balance.
Those are my five tips on how to make more time for the things you love. When you truly sit with an analytical approach to your time, I promise you, you will have more time than you think. Get clear on how you want to spend that additional time and be open to adjusting it as your life moves forward.
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