In coaching my clients, I’m finding something interesting: Almost every one of them says they don’t have the time to exercise/prepare healthy meals/meditate/practice self care.
If I point out that everyone is busy, most of them say, “Yes, but I’m really busy. I work two jobs/have four kids/volunteer for five organizations/take care of my ailing parents. I literally have no time.”
Let me tell you: The people who are getting important things done? Who are running marathons and writing novels and starting businesses? They aren’t some lucky breed of folks who are less busy or have more time than everyone else. They don’t have maids, they usually have kids, they have full-time jobs.
They just make better use of their time.
Instead of sleeping in, they train. Instead of watching TV, they study. They understand the premise of Laura Vanderkam’s wonderful book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, which is that, well, we all have 168 hours in a week. Even if you work 8 hours a day and sleep 8 hours a night, that leaves 56 hours every week. According to the book, time use studies tell us that people work less and spend less time on chores and on child care than they think.
So how can you make better use of those 56 hours so you can do all the important things you dream of?
1. Stop Watching TV
I’m not kidding. I watch one show per week (right now that’s Project Runway). We don’t even have cable (I download PR from Amazon.com and stream it to my TV). Many clients say that at the end of a long day they need a break and they deserve to watch an hour or two of TV. My take:
- TV is not relaxing. Experts even recommend that you don’t watch TV right before bed because it’s too stimulating.
- What you deserve is to pursue your dreams and live the life you’ve always wanted. You deserve so much more than a couple hours of TV in the evening.
My challenge to you: Turn off the TV for one week and use that time to exercise, plan your next day, write out a weekly plan of healthy meals, market your business…anything that will take you in the direction of your best self.
2. Group Similar Tasks
Many of us do have enough time to go after our dreams, but if that time is scattered in 10-minute chunks throughout the day, it’s pretty useless.
One tip: If you have several tasks that are similar, do them all together instead of scattering them throughout the day. For example, if you’re a freelancer, electronically sign and send all your contracts at once, and send your invoices all at the same time for the whole week. If you need to pick up a prescription and make copies at the office supply store, do it all in one trip. When you’re making dinner, prepare your kid’s school lunch for the next day, too.
3. Say Sayonara to Surfing
Isn’t it funny how the people who complain they have no time to exercise or write a novel do have time to obsessively post on Facebook or read through their feed of 100 blogs several times a day?
It’s about priorities, folks. Sure, you want to keep up with your Facebook friends and your blogs. But why does that take precedence over your very health and wellbeing?
I use a cheap piece of software called Freedom that makes the Internet inaccessible for the amount of time I choose, from half an hour to eight hours. I usually set it for an hour when I’m writing an article so I won’t be tempted to jump online and check e-mail. I’ve also used a site blocker browser extension to block time suck sites like certain writer’s forums and even, at times, Facebook and Twitter.
Also, I turned off social media e-mail notifications (I was getting up to 15 Twitter follow notifications a day), and generally answer e-mail in chunks once or twice a day to cut back on the back-and-forth that can occur when you jump on an e-mail 15 seconds after the sender zaps it off.
The result? I get all my writing work done in under 20 hours per week while still earning a full-time income, and have had the time to pursue my dream of becoming a personal trainer and wellness coach.
So here’s another challenge: Figure out what’s sucking up all your time on the Internet and take steps to cut down on it, whether it’s e-mail, social media, or blog surfing. Use that time to do one thing that will take you closer to your goals.