Most people feel like their back is against the wall when it comes to the amount of time we have in a day. We all know that we can't buy more time or increase the hours in a day. But we can use what we have control over, how we use those hours. I say this often, a lot of people choose to be reactive instead of proactive. Let me tell you what I mean.
You know those people that are living paycheck to paycheck, they get their accounts turned off but the next month scramble to find money to get them turned back on? I know some of us don't make tons of money, I get it. What I am talking about are the ones that have money for other things in life but let their bills go. I call this reactive living; they only see what's in front of them. They don't plan for next week or next month.
What I call proactive living is when the person tries to predict what's coming around the corner. They know that bills are coming up, they make a budget and plan accordingly. This type of person organizes their future moves; they are proactive in their lives.
If you don't manage your life, someone else will manage it for you on their terms.
How can I get more time in a day?
You don't have enough time. This is a Lie.
When you say "I don't have enough time for _______" you're telling yourself a lie.
That time will fill up with something else, so you have the time, you are choosing not to make it a priority. Instead of saying "I don't have time," say "It's just not a priority. I am choosing not to do it."
Not all things in life are equal, but time is. We all have the same 24 hrs a day, how we choose to spend those hours is entirely up to us. So, it comes down to what do you want to do with the time you have. DO you want to use them proactively or reactively?
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” ― Jack London
With those 24 hours, how will you divide them up? Many of us know that we will spend probably 8 hours of them working a job to bring in money. This is what we commit to. Think about it; we make choices where and what we spend our time on. On the weekends some of us try to get out and see different parts of the area we live, some go to parties, others sit on facebook, etc. It comes down to what matters the most to you. DO you want to use the time you have for you or just getting sidetracked into things that waste time?
If you tell yourself, I want to go to the gym and get fit but... "I don't have time." Well, you have the time you are committing to spend it on other things. We make time for things that are the most important to us. Again don't lie to yourself and say you don't have the time. If you want to go to the gym, you will arrange your time accordingly to allow for it because it's a priority.
Importance VS. Distractions
To get the most out of your time, you must first be able to determine what is essential and what is a distraction.
Importance of time: The importance of time is anything that adds value to your life. Your business, gym, taking a class, learning a new hobby, seeing nature, reading a book, researching something new, etc. You will feel good after doing these activities because you think that value is being added to your life.
Distractions: Distractions are things that help you in a way to escape. This can be drugs, alcohol, eating junk food, on social media too long, watching TV, texting or talking to people about meaningless things... indulging in these activities aren't adding value, they are distracting you from the essential tasks you could be having. When we are feeling empty are not fulfilled, we look for activities so that we can escape. We seek gratification and comfort through distractions. We often get caught up in these distractions that make us feel like we are swamped, but we are just running in place.
“Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.” ― Will Rogers
The target we are aiming for is distractions should be no more than 10% - 20% of our day. We want to be spending more on the essential things in our lives instead of the distractions. I am not saying to cut out all the fun; we still have to live. I am just saying set time aside for it and manage it. What you don't want to happen is you go down the rabbit hole and lose track of what is going on throughout the day. This is how you get into the reactive lifestyle. Remain in the driver seat of your life.
Where do I put the focus on my time?
Here is a quick exercise I use to manage my time. Find a piece of paper and something to write with. Write down everything you did last week. Make sure you don't leave anything out.
Here's an example: (Weekly)
Got Sleep (72 hours)
Watched TV every day (13 hours)
Spent time on Instagram every day (8 hours)
Went to work Monday to Friday (40 Hours)
Drove to and from work Monday to Friday (10 hours)
Went out with friends Saturday night (5 hours)
Watched Football on Sunday (3 hours)
Checked and replied to emails every day (30 min)
Read a book on Thursday (1 hour)
Spent time with family on Sunday (4 hours)
Cooked meals every day (1 hour)
Watched a movie on Wednesday night (3 hours)
Watching random cat videos on YouTube (5 hours)
I went grocery shopping on Saturday morning. (2 hours)
This is a short list, but you get the gist of it. Make sure you write it out in as much detail as you can. Adding details gives you the best results.
Next, you want to identify if each one was a Distraction on Important.
(Ask yourself as you go through each one, did this add value to my day or did it take away from being productive.)
Got Sleep (72 hours) Important
Watched TV every day (4 hours) Distraction
Spent time on Instagram every day (2 hours) Distraction
Went to work Monday to Friday (40 Hours) Important
Drove to and from work Monday to Friday (10 hours) Important
Went out with friends Saturday night (5 hours) Important
Watched Football on Sunday (3 hours) Distraction
Checked and replied to emails every day (30 min) Important
Read book on Thursday (1 hour) Important
Spent time with family on Sunday (4 hours) Important
Cooked meals every day (1 hour) Important
Watched a movie on Wednesday night (3 hours) Important
Watching random cat videos on YouTube (5 hours) Distraction
I went grocery shopping on Saturday morning. (2 hours) Important
As you can see from this exercise, it's easy to see where this person is wasting their time.
Use this exercise to figure out what needs to be tweaked in your weekly routine to add more time for the activities that add value to your life.
Want to get more time out of your day? Remove the things that are taking up time that isn't serving you.
Let's dive into the results above and see where the person above can make changes to get more out of their day.
This person is Watching TV every day for 4 hours.
This person spent time 2 hours on Instagram every day
This person watched random cat videos on YouTube for 5 hours a week.
This person watched Football on Sunday for 3 hours.
What if this person makes a few changes and watched TV for only 2 hours a day? That would give them 14 extra hours for productive activities each week. What if they scaled the cat videos down to an hour instead of 5? This would free up four extra hours a week. What could they do with those four extra hours? Adding 4 hours to a week could make a significant positive change in someone's life.
“Many people make the mistake of saving money by wasting time.” ― J.R. Rim
If they cut out Instagram completely, they would free up 14 hours. The same goes for some of the other distractions on the list. What about the commute to work? What if they could ride the bus, take a train, rideshare, Uber? This would free up time to get a job done on the way home, read a book, etc. Freeing up 10 extra hours a week is significant. Wow, are you seeing where all the spare time can come from?
When you start to breakdown where your time is spent week to week, you can begin to understand that we have the time, it's just filled with things that aren't serving us. Once you start to free up your time and add positive activities that will add value, you will begin to seeba transformation take place. Freeing up your time and focusing on the IMPORTANT things in your life will turn your life around in a positive way.
Work Smarter, Leverage Your Time
You want to make sure you are grouping things in blocks. If you can run on the treadmill for 60 min and watch TV, why not use the block of time to your advantage? Now you are working smarter. How about buying the audio version of a book and listening to it as you clean the house, go for a run, or listen on the way to work. Lumping one or two things in the same time slot will free up some of your time. You can then put other activities that will add value in the time slots that you already freed up. This being intelligent, work smarter, not harder. Instead of sitting down for lunch with your friends, ask them if they would want to go for a walk at lunchtime and bring your lunch as you're walking. The possibilities are endless; can you think of more?
Leveraging your time is essential as well, maybe you can hire someone to help with the grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning, etc. For example, perhaps you could hire someone to clean your place a few times a week so you can focus on other things. What if you hired someone that could buy all your groceries for the upcoming week. What about hiring a babysitter a few hours to watch the kids on the weekends so you can focus on other things that need to get done around the house?
The hard truth is you DO have time; it just comes down to being wiser with the time you have. It takes some thought and strategy to make sure that you're investing in the things that are important and that add value. You can't say you aren't aware now; you have no excuses to say, "I don't have time," Remember you always make time for the things that are important to you. If you want it bad enough, you will stay focused and committed to making it happen.