Do you constantly find yourself in a whirlwind of activities, duties or stressful situations that make you feel like a victim of your own life? The concept of time, whether you believe it's an illusion or not, will always be a struggle if you are perceiving it as one. We are all given the same amount of time, yet some seem to reach success and life balance better than others. Those people should be your first clue that time can actually work for you, if you know how to leverage it.
Time management has been on the forefront of my life lately, whether it's helping out a friend or client realize their potential. I felt compelled to write about this precious asset of ours and explain some techniques and insights that have worked for me.
"I never have time for ________."
If you consistently find yourself saying you don't have time for this or that, know that you are actually giving yourself an out, so you don't have to deal with that specific thing. It's important to realize what your limits are, and you are actually setting a boundary when you state this. You are also affirming a belief that whatever the thing is, it's not important. Now, that can be good or bad. Sometimes we all DO need to say this to ourselves or others so they know that it actually isn't important to us and to not go any further into it. An example of this would be a toxic acquaintance or a home chore that should be the duty of another family member. Most of the time, however, that "thing" is something we actually want to do deep down inside. Maybe it's a hobby that you've always wanted to take up or an organizing project that has been on the horizon for months now. Those are things that will enhance your life if you tackle it.
So what's stopping you? If other obligations are holding you back, maybe it's time for a re-evaluation of priorities. Often times I find that clutter (especially mental clutter) is just a bunch of misplaced priorities. Society norms and and standards can make us feel like we have no control over our minds, but that's exactly what we can be sure we do have control over - our thoughts. When we realize our thoughts are the foundation of our lives, miracles can happen and we begin to harness our own power. To put it bluntly, when it's important enough, we make the time.
"If only there were more hours in a day."
This might be another way of saying "I don't have enough support in my life." What do you need in order to take care of what you want? Do you need a babysitter? A maid? A driver? A body double? You can hire a professional or call in the help of friends and family. I'm a firm believer in knowing your strengths and delegating your weaknesses. Do more of what you're good at, and less of what you're not - because it's almost guaranteed that you won't do a great job if you dislike doing it, probably spending more time on it that you should and wasting your energy. Of course there are always things we simply must do in life that we aren't going to like, and those should be done with as much fervor and enthusiasm as possible so as to enhance our mental state which in turn motivates us even more for the things we love to do. To get back to the point, it's always best to get more clear in ways you can be supported so that you feel comfortable and at ease with life, which in turn makes you accomplish more. This includes yourself, too. I encourage you to write at least 5 ways you can increase your support level either by something you can do for yourself, or ask of another.
That brings about another idea, gratitude. When we are more grateful for our time, it usually appears more abundantly. Start to notice the extra pockets in your day - driving to the supermarket or your first cup of coffee - Enjoy those little moments so they can add up to big moments eventually. They will also make you happier and more present, something we all can enjoy more of. Sometimes I find myself complaining about the task I'm doing. I have to catch myself and change my perception of the situation before it gets out of control and ruins my whole day. Complaints bring you and everyone around you down, and they are often a disguise of us trying to escape the current feeling. Is there a shift you can make in yourself to appreciate what you're working with better? Do you need to set a boundary and eliminate something or leave the room? Be grateful that you always have a choice.
"I'll get to that when I have more time."
There is a phrase I tell my clients and loved ones often, in regards to time management: "Your passions & hobbies are equally as important as your work & chores." If you only did the dirty work, how could you even imagine a wonderful, balanced life? Putting gratitude aside for a minute, let's look at that idea. Are you the type of mom that puts her kids and husband first? Are you a stressed out workaholic? Are you a people pleaser? Most of these common scenarios yield a common result: burn out. Making time for your needs, your desires and your values will only benefit everyone in your life, including you. That's where the misconception of balance comes into play. I hear people asking for help getting organized so they can have more time with their loved ones - meaning right now they don't make the time for it because they are putting all their energy into the wrong places. Work backwards by recognizing the time that needs to be spent on you before anything else. This is kind of like the airplane rule of putting the air mask on yourself before putting it on a child next to you. You can't help anyone unless you help yourself first. Those guitar lessons, that painting, that spa day or the time with close friends that puts you in the best mood, up your energy levels, give you more appreciation for life and keeps you grounded. Wow, when you put it that way…
I hope this has helped you see that you are in control of your time, your life and your priorities. Our time goes where our values and beliefs lay.
To your timeliness,