Do you find yourself saying "I wish I had more time." or "I just don't have the time."?
If your answer is yes, I have some tips and strategies you may find useful. The first thing to remember is EVERYONE has the same 24 hours in a day. It all boils down to how you manage your time, and your willingness to make small sacrifices in order to achieve your goal(s). By Sacrifice, I do not mean eliminating family time, or much needed sleep (although some do take this route). Whether you're someone who gets lost playing on your phone, binge watching your favorite show, or someone who feels they have no leisure time at all, don't worry! I have some strategies below that may help.
First things first, assess your current schedule and goal(s).
Start the day with a notebook in hand. Document everything that takes place on a typical weekday as well as a weekend. Depending on the consistency of your routine, you may need to keep track of each days activities. This may sound like a pain but I can promise you it has a purpose. I recommend doing this for 1 week (most weeks tasks repeat themselves).
When documenting, don't forget the little things!
Do you plan your outfit the night before? Did you hit snooze (and how many times)? Do you shower/bathe before bed or in the morning? How much time do you spend on your morning routine? Do you catch yourself running back and forth to the same room when you could have made one trip? When you have down time at work, do you find your self surfing the web or chatting with co-workers? Every minute matters.
Write everything down!
Next, write down the activities you wish to incorporate into your schedule and how much time you think it/they will take to complete.
Let's Talk about multitasking!
There is a lot of data and research out there about whether multi-tasking is good or bad. I say, it depends. Nothing is as simple as it seems. There are a lot of variables which come into play.
Multitasking is bad when you are constantly switching from one task to the other without completion. However, if your hands are doing one thing, and your mind is free to focus on something else, take advantage! My morning routine, from the time I wake up to the time I am in my car, takes approximately 30 minutes. The reason being, I strategically plan everything to be as time efficient as possible.
Here is a general breakdown of my morning routine:
I shower at night so I don't have to dry my hair in the morning. While I am brushing my teeth, I am also plugging in the straightener and picking out my outfit for the day (it may save more time if I do it at night, but I tend to be indecisive sometimes). After I brush, I put on my clothes and straighten my hair, feed and walk the dog (5-7 minutes), grab my lunch (which I meal prep) and I'm out the door. I keep my make-up bag in my car and put my make up on once I'm in the work parking lot. I do this in order to miss hitting heavy traffic and find a better parking spot, saving me about 15 minutes. I choose to have breakfast at work, usually something simple that involves very little preparation.
I understand this routine does not work for everyone. I don't have children, and have a job that allows me the flexibility to eat at my desk if I so choose. The point is, there are small amounts of time in everyone's day which could be organized more effectively to free up some time.
If your goal is to learn something new, try listening to audio books or podcast while you are in the car, cooking, exercising, or doing mundane task that don't take much concentration.
Always be prepared for unexpected down time.
Whether it be a break at work, sitting in the waiting room for a doctors appointment, or stuck in stand-still traffic, I always have a book or notepad on me (at all times). This is precious time which I take advantage of learning, planning, or brain storming. You could also take this time to make important phone calls. Use your time wisely!
Don't have a routine? Make one!
BLOCK SCHEDULING!! Section off time for all of your important tasks as well as leisure time. By having a schedule with designated blocked time, you are more likely to stick to your routine. There are many different tools to use for block scheduling. I personally use Google Calendar but there are many planning tools for you to choose from.
Don't waist time doing things that have already been done for you!
Do you find yourself creating or managing things that have either a) already been done/created by someone else, or b) you take on responsibilities that could be delegated to someone else? This was the case for me for many years. I either wanted to be in control, or had the "I can do it all by myself" attitude. After several books, podcast, and advice from others, I finally came to the realization I was wasting my time. There are so many resources at our fingertips (literally). Take advantage of them, along with advice from others who are experienced in an area we wish to learn more about. Don't be afraid to ask questions or help with task.
To sum it up....
Be conscious of how you manage your time. (become more aware by keeping a journal for a week)
Assess your current routine and the goals you wish to set for yourself. (assess time commitments for goals)
Always be prepared for downtime. (have something productive to do when you have nothing planned)
Multitask when appropriate. (ie. when you are cooking, listen to a podcast or make a call)
Block schedule your day. (commit to organizing and effectively managing your time)
Work smarter, not harder. (don't feel the need to take on the world, take advantage of what has or could be done for you)