Why does it always feel like there is never enough time in the day to get all the things we need to do done? Do you ever feel like you’re trying to play catch-up in your own life, always making to-do lists that never get completed, always tired but with too much to do to stop and rest?
Have you ever had that conversation in your head that goes a little something like “I’m really tired, but I’ve only got five more things to do today; I’ll rest and take it easy when I’ve finished those five things” or however many things it is that are left on your to-do list. Most of the time when I have had that little discussion with myself, I never get to the part of the day where I take it easy, because I never get all the things finished! I get some things done, then the others get added and some things get pushed on to tomorrows to-do lists and the chase for time to rest keeps getting pushed forward… if this sounds like your relationship with time, rest and self care, then I'm going to teach you how you can change it in 3 mindful actions!
3 steps to claiming back your time
Step 1: track how you're spending you time now.
When someone is struggling with their finances, one of the first steps that’s recommended is to look at what they are spending, where there are spending it and then creating a plan on how to shift that so that they can improve the situation. We’re going to apply the same principle to our time management, because just like with money management there are things in our lives, responsibilities we have, that require a certain percentage of our time, but then there are also areas that when we look closely we are spending too much on.
The first step to improving your time habits, and claiming back some of your time for self-care and personal downtime, is to track where and how you are currently spending your time. Unlike with money, we can't log into our banking apps and easily access this information because there are no receipts for time spent - we have to create the receipts.
To help with this I have created a FREE time tracking & budgeting template; use this template to track your time spending closely over a period of 3-5 days (including at least one of your days off) to learn your average time spending habits.
Step 2: analyse the data.
With my time tracking template, the sheet will automatically generate a pie chart, showing you on average how much time you are spending on different things as you populate the tracker. After 3-5 days, this will give you a good idea or picture of what percentage of your time you are averagely spending on different things in a week. Now it's time to look closely at that data and see what stands out.
Which areas of your pie chart are the biggest? Which are the smallest? Are there any of the sections of your pie chart that surprised you by how much or how little time you are averagely spending on those activities weekly?
Look at all the information and ask yourself two important questions:
- what do I want MORE time for? and
- what am I spending TOO MUCH time on now?
It's in the space between those two questions that we can begin to claim back blocks of time for ourselves.
Step 3: create a time budget.
If we're looking at time management and changing our time habits in the same way we would money, then the next step is to create a budget. Looking at the data on your time tracker and the answers to your questions from step two, it's time to start taking time from time wasting activities and giving it to the things you want MORE of.
Let's say you want more time for reading, and see that on your pie chart, you're spending on average 10% of your week watching Netflix; if you half that, that would be over eight hours in the week that you could free up - that's more than one hour of reading a day!
Look at your big outliers in the data and just start by halving the time you are spending on them and collecting it for something that you want to have more time for. Create a budget or time plan using the budgeting tab in the time tracker and then test it out by mindfully sticking to it for a few weeks and seeing how these changes feel.
want more help with this? listen to this episode of Fill Up Your Cup