How often do you find yourself saying “I have no time” or “where did the time go?” or “how am I supposed to get to things….there’s just too much to do!”. Most of you will be saying a big “YES” to that and quite honestly, it’s the norm for so many people to live in. I’m just as guilty of uttering the above sentences (OFTEN!) and it’s time to stop, review and look at what needs to be done in order to move forward and REALLY start making balancing life as much as possible.
So, if you are REALLY keen on starting to turn the chaos into a little more calmness and perhaps a little more structure, I really encourage you to take on the following exercise. If you do this properly, it WILL work for you. I’m doing it and so far, it’s working for me – I am now sharing it with YOU.
Ideally, you need to do this once a week or once a month – you decide based on your commitments and how things work for you. I would encourage once a week to begin with.
- Set aside an hour or two of time – believe it or not, things will carry on without you. Find yourself a baby sitter and make sure to turn your phone off. Even better, go out somewhere to a coffee shop – somewhere that you will NOT be disturbed – you want to use this time effectively for the best results.
- Get prepared – make sure you have a pen and a few pieces of paper OR a laptop / computer where you can make notes. If you use a laptop / computer, make sure to close ALL browsers and communication applications like Skype or Google Chat to ensure you are NOT interrupted.
- Start writing – write down or type a list of EVERYTHING you know you need to get done both personally and stuff that you are responsible for. List appointments you need to attend no matter how far in the future. List each item underneath each other. If you run a business, you may want to list tasks and projects you need to do or achieve. Personal stuff could include losing weight, grocery shopping, clothes for kids, birthdays, etc.
- Identify items that can be handed over or left off – look at what items there are that you actually don’t HAVE TO DO and could delegate to someone else? Do you REALLY need to do that particular item e.g. Phone and get costing for X, Y, Z – perhaps, your husband could do it or your PA, etc. Does this item REALLY have to be done – really? If not, then remove it – these will be energy suckers and will make you procrastinate and inevitably leave you with the feeling of dread! Also, by identifying items that don’t really have to be done – you are actually making time for your kids, family or doing something you love. Once you have removed the items that don’t actually have to be done, move onto the next step.
- Prioritise – look at the list of items you have written down and review that list. Next to each item, put a timeline that is relevant and realistic e.g. Today, This Week, Next Month, Next 2 Months, Next 3 Months, Next Year, etc – you decide on the timeline.
- Setup a default diary– once you have your tasks identified and you know your priorities, start allocating strict timeslots for yourself for tasks that need to be done and things you WANT to have time for in your week. Use Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar and even your cellphone – MAKE SURE you get reminders so you know when to stop and stick to it! Group the tasks into things like Admin, Marketing, Social, Family, etc. For example:
- Monday: 9 – 10am: Admin
- Monday: 10 – 12: Marketing
- Mon – Friday: 12:00 – 1pm: Fetch Kids, Lunch, Play
- Tuesday: 11pm – 3pm: Play tennis and hang out with friends at the tennis club
- Friday: 12:30 – 3pm: One on one time with Child # 1
- Start practicing to say NO – if you are a person, like myself, that doesn’t like to say NO – now is the time to start changing. Think about it – if you start saying NO to things that you don’t want to do – how much more time will be created in your day / week / month / year? Start practicing TODAY! Always check your Default Diary (created above) before saying YES and ask yourself – does this fit into your picture of balancing life and everything in it?
- Start working on the most important items first – start with the most important items that you put together in Step 5 i.e. the ones that need to get completed today and / or in the next week and make those your focus. Get them completed. Forget about the other stuff until you have everything you needed done, done! And cross off or remove the tasks as you get them completed.
- At the end of the week, review your list, add to it and start the exercise again to prepare for your next week – you will start noticing you have more time and you have time where you could be putting your focus / attention into other things like your kids, hobbies or time out. This isn’t a new theory and it’s not easy, but who said life was easy anyway, right?
- Let me and others know if it works for you – if this process starts reducing your stress levels and allows you to start having more time, share it with other people so they can benefit. And, always remember to share with me!
Be strict with yourself and eventually it will become easier. Babies didn’t give up when trying learning to crawl or walk – they fall over or collapse a few times and they just keep on trying.
Practice makes perfect and YOU CAN DO IT! If you’re committed to making time for yourself, your family and whatever else is important to you, you MUST start scheduling to avoid unnecessary stress or chaos. If it’s not planned, it shouldn’t be considered or even register in your day – add it to your list!
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