If there is one resource that is truly limited, it’s the time we have.
How you spend it deeply impacts how you feel about yourself, your life and others.
For example, when you invest your time in helping those who matter to you, it feels really good. But when all of your time goes that direction you leave no time for yourself.
Doing so can leave you feeling a mixture of emotions. You’re exhausted and overwhelmed and yet feel thankful and purposeful that you were able to be there for them.
I recently had this exact experience.
My mom’s health took her into the Kaiser emergency room via ambulance. It was a terrifying experience. Thereafter we spent the following three months trying to get her literally back on her feet again.
Being there for her was a priority, yet this experience disrupted my life significantly. I wasn’t prepared to take this much time off from my work. Although, I feel that the emotional impact was far more severe.
This experience emphasized how little time we have and the importance of spending it with others we care about.
And then there is work-life balance…
For many people, it’s their job or business that consumes all of their energy. The burnout leaves them spent for the remainder of their day. Days off become more about recovery than enjoyment.
Perhaps you can relate?
Going to the gym or yoga falls right off the to-do list. You’re just too tired. But it doesn’t end there. You say no to the other things in your life that make you happy. Gone is your time for creativity. Social time is limited if even at all. And so on…
If you end your day feeling stressed, overworked, or just plain exhausted – it might be time to assess how your time is spent and to create new practices to better align how you spend your most precious asset: YOUR TIME.
Here are 5 steps to get your time back.
1: Schedule yourself into your calendar
You give everyone else access to your calendar, why not book yourself into it as well?
I know it’s hard to believe this will work, but just try it.
Start small with 30 minutes a day. If you are using a digital calendar like Google calendar, highlight that time with a fun color to mark that spot in your calendar. Further personalize that time with a special name. “A date with myself” or my favorite “Free Time.”
This first step is the most important one. Create SPACE for YOU.
And honestly the one step most of us fail to accomplish. Why? Because it’s so much easier to focus our attention on the needs of others, especially if you love helping others.
2: Spend your allocated time on your needs
I love the word “spend.” With time being your most precious resource, how you spend it matters more than anything else.
You’ve just given yourself an extra 30-minutes a day. What do you want to accomplish for yourself? Maybe it is exercise? A nap? Perhaps taking care of those personal tasks that have been weighing on your mind? Maybe it’s reading a book, painting, or just sipping a cup of chai tea! I don’t know what’s right for you, but you do. So give yourself that gift!
Spending time on what you need, ensures you’re filling up your own cup.
When you make yourself a priority, you ensure that you are taken care of along with everyone else and everything else. Besides…this can lead to better health, wellbeing, and relationships with friends and family.
Remember—if we can’t take care of ourselves first, then how can we take care of others? We can only be our best selves by taking care of our needs, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
3: Notice what it feels like to give yourself the gift of time
Take a moment to notice how you feel when you have time for yourself.
Do you feel relaxed? Energized? Inspired? Motivated? It’s important that you feel the benefits of taking dedicated time for yourself. Again… FEEL the BENEFITS.
Too often we make snap decisions on where to place our attention. But when we develop a stronger connection to the benefits of spending it on our own needs it’s easier to make new choices.
A recent coaching client of mine came up with this brilliant idea. They were struggling with the amount of time they were spending on Zoom. Being strapped to their computer was impacting their health and preventing them from getting outside into nature.
I asked them to explore ways in which they could be out in nature and still get things done for their business. A few seconds later, they realized that they could still accomplish a lot of their meetings out in nature if they didn’t have to go on video.
Let’s just say they are closing more sales than ever because they are fully present and in a much better mood getting their nature time in.
When you spend your time in ways that honor your needs, you can be better all around (in work and in your personal life) and that is motivating.
4: Adapt your schedule based on what works for you.
Time is limited. But you can get creative with how you spend it.
I recently signed up for a 30-minute a day CORE workout. Everyday at 12p a group of 12-15 people get together for ab and back exercises.
I have yet to attend one of those classes at noon. Why? Because I book myself solid up until the noon hour. And when the time hits to join the online class, I’m not mentally prepared to shift.
Which brings me to the deep importance of allocating time during the day or night that you know you’ll be able to shift gears.
I could have just beat myself up and said what a waste of money purchasing that class, but instead I learned a valuable lesson. The importance of scheduling my “me” time in a way that allows me to be successful at shifting my attention back to my needs.
I’m pretty focused on my business in the middle of the day. And even though it would benefit me greatly to shift into something else… I’m trying to break a habit and that takes patience and creativity.
Instead of doing my CORE workout at 12p, I watch the video later in the evening. I then shoot a quick email to the instructor saying “THANK YOU!” I may not have hit my calendar in the way I had planned, but I did spend time on my needs in another way.
5: Let someone else have your back!
This is probably the biggest challenge of all. Shifting from you showing up to help others to allowing other people to help you to focus on you.
What this looks like can take many forms. Certainly hiring a coach is a huge step in the right direction. But perhaps a good friend, spouse or partner could also be there for you on some level? Joining an online or in-person group for that matter might also work! The idea is that you involve yourself with others in service of you being able to be accountable to your own needs and desires.
Remember how I mentioned I emailed my CORE workout teacher? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Letting someone else know that you did it.
Why this is important: If you are like most of us, your time goes out toward getting things done and being there for other people. By identifying an accountability partner, you are still being there for someone else (your accountability partner) but you’re focusing on your needs while doing so!
So I’ve just shared a formula for you putting yourself back onto your calendar. As I mentioned before, the key is to notice what you are getting by developing this habit.
If you are like most of my clients you’ll feel better about yourself and how you are spending your time. Which in turn will reward you with more peace of mind, clarity and focus. All of which means you can use your time MORE WISELY.
But there is more you can do. Even as soon as TODAY!
Here are my 5 most favorite fast-acting tips for getting back your precious time.
6: Put Your Phone Away
I know. It’s hard. Your digital device keeps you connected.
Whether it’s with your friends, family or your clients and/or co-workers. It’s a tether that is hard to cut back on. But it’s not just the people you care about that are consuming your attention and along with it your precious time.
If you find yourself constantly distracted by your phone, especially if you have social media apps or your email open you can avoid getting sucked into the vortex with this one action: Hide your phone from yourself when it’s “YOU TIME.” Give yourself all of your attention.
By that… I don’t mean in your pocket. It’s too easy to just grab it and slide back into old habits. I know you know what I mean. Leave it in another room or with someone you trust. And then give yourself 30-minutes without it to focus on you and your needs.
What I love about this, is you’ll soon learn how much you can get done when you’re distraction free. You’ll also likely experience that everything that your phone has to offer will still be there.
My biggest surprise with this new way of being with my phone was this. My phone didn’t blow up. People weren’t upset that I didn’t reply to their texts, emails and social media…
7: Fuel your body & your mind.
If you are like me, you’ll try to squeeze one more thing in before you take a break to eat. Or you’ll snack on something that you later regret. Hello peanut butter cups!
For some of us, eating mindfully is a must. But as busy people it can be one of the first things we surrender to get more done in less time.
By paying attention to what and how often you are eating, you can ensure that your body receives the fuel it needs for optimal performance. It also helps prevent overeating at lunch or dinner because you’re too hungry from skipping breakfast.
It can be easy to fall into delaying a meal here and there. When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs – your performance can decline. And that means you spend more time, because you are less effective.
Try scheduling your meals and spend that time away from your work. Also, the downtime off the computer gives your eyes and mind a rest. You’ll come back refreshed and even more effective! Fueled and ready to go!
8: Create Dedicated Client Office Hours
If you are a business owner, and you have clients. It’s your job to serve them. But if you don’t set up boundaries for when you work with them, the line between your time and theirs can easily get blurred.
A dedicated client office hour is a great way to keep track of where the line is—and make sure it stays there. The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t take much effort: just set aside a few hours each week as “Client Time.” This will prevent any potential issues from arising later down the road when they suddenly need something from you during YOUR time.
And, if you aren’t the boss. How are you managing the hours you work for others? Burnout isn’t going to get you or your boss anywhere.
9: Be an Early Bird
Being an early riser doesn’t have to be about cramming in more work, but rather it can be a routine that’s focused on YOU and helping you mentally and physically prepare for the day you have ahead.
Set aside time to meditate or pray. Studies show meditation lowers stress levels and increases concentration, both of which are great for productivity. Don’t forget about reading either! Reading helps with retention, learning new things and gives us perspective on different perspectives. Exercise counts too!.
10: Stop Checking Your Inbox Every Five Minutes
This one is my favorite, and something I’ve always got to pay attention to. It’s very similar to having your phone in hand, but easier to validate because it’s work related.
It’s so easy to slip into the habit of checking our inbox over and over again—even if we don’t have anything pressing to attend to.
Try setting two time frames in which to check your emails and stick within those windows. For example you might try 8a-8:30a and then again at 3:30p-4:00p.
Maximize your time. Scan your inbox and identify your three most important emails to respond to. If you have time left in your window, then address anything else that is less important.
If your email box is over-flooded, it could be time to assess if delegating tasks, or organizing your inbox into folders might be helpful.
These changes alone can have an impact on how much more relaxed and productive you feel throughout the day—and it’s easier than ever with today’s technology. And remember – when you sign off at the end of the day – avoid checking your email until the next day.
Lastly, use a vacation notice to let people know when you check your email and how to contact you if it’s an emergency. While some people will think they have an emergency, most will respect that you are trying to focus your time.
We’ve explored 10 ways to get your time back, but here’s how you can truly shift the way you spend your most precious resource: time.
3 powerful tools to make YOU TIME a habit
Once you have taken stock of where your time goes and how it aligns with your values and needs, here are 3 ways you can make sure you are spending time on things that matter most in your life:
- Align your time with your core values – Ask yourself, how does the way I spend my time align with my values? If your core value is connection, how many hours a week are you actually connecting with people in the way you truly want. Or if one of your core values is freedom, how might you spend your time to feel more free.
- Check in to see what you truly need in the moment – What needs are going unmet because you don’t allocate time to meet them? If you need more downtime, then how might you create space in your calendar? If you are needing more time to focus, how can you remove the distractions?
- How do you want to feel? – Check in with yourself. Do I feel the way I want to at this moment? If it’s not content, rested, assured, what does that tell you about how you are spending your time? Many of us live in a pressure cooker lifestyle, where we feel on the edge. This degrades our ability to feel good and be at our best.
There is a strong relationship between success and performance when we truly know ourselves. What’s most important to us, what we need and taking time to check in with how we are feeling will help you see where you need to spend more of your time.
It’s time for you…
Coming to know and embrace all of who you are will help you to bring your BEST to the world. It makes you highly effective and successful, but also happy and relaxed. It can be hard to put yourself first. It’s almost like you have to make a decision or a commitment, and that takes courage. But it can also be liberating when you do so.
Spending time taking care of yourself, learning more about who YOU are, will help you create space in your life for what matters most to YOU. This is true no matter what stage of life you are at—whether it’s 20 or 60.
Prioritizing your needs will not only make YOU more effective in the world but also happier and relaxed because doing things that fulfill your own needs helps create balance in your life!