How To Find Time When it Feels Like You Have NoneJan 14, 2022
Lately, and pretty much for as long as I can remember, I’ve never felt as though I have enough hours in the day to get things done. Between working a full-time corporate job, owning and operating a side hustle, and attempting to have a life, I would get to the end of the day and wonder what I had accomplished. Sure, I knew I had done things but had I done the things I needed to do?
As things kept getting busier, I started to stress and panic over not having enough time to get everything done. I would lose track of what I needed to do and end up forgetting things. I would feel guilty when I took an afternoon to be with friends or family because it meant that I wasn’t getting ‘work’ done. That’s when I realized I needed to make a change and find a way to be productive while not burning out and finding time to enjoy my life.
Knowing there had to be a better way, I started to try different things to help manage my time. Some were less successful than others, but I ended up with a few things that have been really helpful and have also given me back time I didn’t seem to have before.
The first is priority lists. Some things are just more important than others, but when you have everything swimming around in your head, it all feels like a 5-alarm emergency. Making lists is fairly standard practice. You grab a sheet of paper or a notebook and write down everything you have to get done. Then you look at the list, and it’s a page long, sometimes more, and it starts to get stressful again instead of feeling organized. This is where prioritization comes into play. Once you’ve made your list of everything, it’s time for a second, priority list. This list takes everything you have to get done and rearranges it from the most important to the least important. Once the list is rearranged, you can again shift items to the next day or even the following weekend if they don’t need to be done immediately. This leaves room for more personal time, and less stress over getting it all done.
1. How you can apply priority lists in your life: I like to start making my list on a Sunday, for the next full week. First, write everything you need to get done in the week in list form. Then rearrange your list from most important, to least important. Your most important items should also be ones that are time-sensitive. Once you have the list prioritized, you can even go a step further and start plugging everything into different days of the week. Seeing everything spread out over several days, instead of trying to do it all at once, also has a way of making everything feel better. This also brings us into our next time-saving tactic!
2. Time blocking. This is something I never thought would work for me, but when I couldn’t figure out where my time was going, I started to track my day to see where I was missing out. That’s when I realized there were blocks of time in my day that weren’t being used to their best potential. By time blocking my day, I was able to estimate how long things would take me (including transit time) and if for example, I knew it would take me 2 hours round trip to run errands on a specific day, I knew that from noon-2 pm would be dedicated to errands. I could then fit in other activities like working out, dinner with friends, or even an hour for laundry, around the time it would take to do my other things. I started to find more and more time as I continued to do this regularly.
3. How you can apply time blocking in your life: Take a morning to plan out your weekend. Sit and write out everything you have to do, and roughly how long each thing will take. Then, plug it into a daily hourly schedule so you can visualize it. If you’re finding there are too many items for one day, move some of the ‘less important’ items over to the following day.
4. The last tip is a tough one: knowing when to say “no”. This is the hardest thing to do when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. As a people pleaser, I want to say yes to everyone. I also feel that when I’m not doing something, I could be missing out on an opportunity. Learning how to say no is tough because it forces you to train yourself that you aren’t letting anyone down, you’re in fact stepping up for yourself. This isn’t to say you should say no to everything, but when a plan or opportunity doesn’t feel right, but you would usually do it anyway ‘just in case’ this pushes you to say no, which ultimately gives you back more time for you.
It may not sound like much, but you’ll find that trying one of these tricks regularly will start to help give you back time where you didn’t know you had it. Gradually, you’ll start to feel better, less stressed, anxious and happier overall.
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