“There is no such thing as time management; there is only self-management.”
— RORY VADEN
Many of us feel like there’s NEVER ENOUGH TIME. More responsibilities require more of a balancing act. Work, home, relationships, extracurricular activities and leisure time all seem to be vying for our attention and it can get supremely overwhelming.
The following are 5 tips on how you can make the most out of your time.
1) Be present
Think about when you are traveling somewhere you’ve never been. Two days can feel like forever when you’re in a foreign land surrounded by the unfamiliar. Your attention is focused on every detail and there is so much new information for your senses to take in. You are actively engaged in each moment and time seems to stretch out for longer.
Now imagine the autopilot mode we go into in daily life. I would guess you barely remember your drive to work today because it’s so mundane to you at this point. The days and weeks slip by because we are so busy and ‘in our heads’ we don’t even notice where the time goes!
When you are fretting about the past or worrying about all the things you have to do in the future, your attention is not on the task at hand, and if that’s the case, you aren’t giving it your best effort. This can mean that things are done with less efficiency.
Bringing your awareness to the present moment is a sure fire way to slow time down. Tune into your senses, notice what is directly in front of you. Focusing on the sights, sounds and smells around you help bring you back into your body instead of your mind. This lets you focus more clearly on the task at hand and even enjoy it more!
2) Be Honest
This one is twofold: be honest with yourself and be honest with others. There are already many demands on your time, or you wouldn’t be reading this post. Take a good hard look at these demands. How many of them are absolutely necessary to the quality of your life? Is there anything you can let go of, or get help with, or minimize?
We get in the habit of thinking we have to DO ALL THE THINGS, so step out of that habit and take a good honest look at what you have going on, and if it is absolutely necessary to keep all those balls in the air. If you discover it’s not truly necessary, then FREE YOURSELF!
Next, when others are asking you to do things for them, be honest about whether you are able to take it on. Again this requires you to really examine your life and imagine where this could fit in. If it does fit in then great, and if it doesn’t, be honest with this person. Let them know that you’re plate is just too full right now, and you wouldn’t be able to give your time properly to whatever is being asked of you.
It is better to be honest about what you are capable of than try to ‘do it all’. Trying to do it all is a classic route to burn out.
3) Choose Consciously
If you took a really close look at your time and how it is being spent, where are you making conscious choices and where are you ‘wasting time’. Wasting time by my definition is when you are not consciously engaged in what you are doing. This is when you are mindlessly doing something. Examples are, hitting snooze in the morning, scrolling on your phone or laptop, and watching Netflix.
These are activities we engage in because we are exhausted and we want to turn our brain off. If we even notice it is happening we tell ourselves we deserve it because we’ve worked so hard.
Also important here are priorities. Are you looking at your to-do list in order of MOST to LEAST important? Are you tackling the big projects head on that will make you feel most accomplished?
Sometimes when we’re overwhelmed we are unable to be productive because we are too in our heads, so we do small tasks, ‘busy work’ that we pretend is important but truly isn’t that urgent.
Take stock through this next week and notice when your brain turns off, or when you are taking on meaningless tasks. How are you ‘wasting time’ that could be more productively used? How can you choose more consciously how you spend your time?
4) Enjoy a Recharge
We all have ways we recharge, for some it is curling up alone with a good book or movie. For others it is going for a long hike, or getting together with friends.
Think about what recharges you and allows you to stock up your energy reserves. Maybe it’s a simple as a good nap, or getting to bed early. Maybe you need to schedule in a getaway, or go get a massage once a month.
Taking the time to recharge yourself is an INCREDIBLY important part of self-care. It’s self MAINTENANCE really. You wouldn’t let your car go years without an oil check or a tune-up right? Your body is your vehicle and it needs the same care and attention in order to run smoothly, so give it what it needs. Guilt free!
This goes back to making conscious choices around how you spend your time. If you find yourself curled up on the sofa and you are really in need of a recharge, ALLOW yourself to ENJOY it! This is required for your vehicle to run properly. You will come back from this recharge with a fresh mind and an energized body that is ready to get sh*t done!
5) Manage Saboteurs
This is an area where the Self-Doubt Gremlin LOVES to come skulking around. This little devil smells your concern and starts whispering all sorts of foul things in your ear. “You’re not doing enough, you’re not successful enough, you’re letting people down, you don’t deserve down time.” Whatever the messaging is, this sort of self-talk does not help you get stuff done, and may lead to more ‘time-wasting’ avoidance tactics.
Often we want to soothe ourselves with distraction when the Self- Doubt Gremlin starts up with us. That distraction could be keeping busy by ‘doing more’. Or it could be food, TV, scrolling, booze or weed. Whatever it is, listening to the Self-Doubt Gremlin either leads you to do too much and burn out, or it paralyzes you and you waste your time with distractions.
Recognize this voice for what it is. Name your gremlin something silly like Nagging Nelly and tell it to go bug someone else. Replace that negative messaging with a mantra that reminds you of your truth. “I am taking care of me in order to give my best.” Is one you could try on, or make up something that rings true for you.
It is ok to say NO.
It is impossible to do it all.
And you can’t pour from an empty cup.
In order to give your best, you have to BE your best, and that requires presence, consciousness, honesty and self-care.
I would really appreciate your feedback so let me know in the comments if you found this to be useful or have another suggestion. Maybe you think this is all a load of crap. Regardless, I’d love to hear from you!