Feeling Like You Just Need More Time in Your Day?
Time is something we all say we need more of. If only it were possible to have more time in our day, we’d all have spotless homes, clean windows, and gourmet meals on the table every night. But no matter how we try, there will never be more than 24 hours in a day.
So how is it that some people are able to get so much more done in their day than others? The answer lies not in how “busy” we are, but how we use the precious time we have.
Time is finite, but it belongs to you
If you regularly feel overwhelmed by the clock that just keeps on ticking, it just may be because you are trying to cram in every errand, favor, and promise you’ve ever made to all the people in your life. Time waits for no one, but what we do with it is something we can control, at least most of the time. Anxiety creeps in when we try to take on too much, and once the stress hits, we are no good to anyone, and we risk our own health. So let’s kick that stress to the curb before things get out of hand, shall we?
Picture yourself waking up tomorrow morning. There is probably already a lot on your mind – feeding the kids, working out, walking the dog, your long commute, the stack of papers on your desk – and all this is before greeting your students at the door for the day!
Whatever it is you have on your plate, you are busy. I hear you!
But have no fear. Try some of my best tips for “gaining” more time in your day and see if they work for you.
Tip #1: Prioritize, delegate, or eliminate.
First up: Your to-do list
I no longer call my list a “to-do” list, actually. I now call it a priority list.
Just making a shift in what you call your list does amazing things in terms of getting things accomplished. A”Priority List” immediately changes your mindset from merely checking off tasks to getting the important stuff done systematically, with intention, and in priority order.
Determine your priorities first thing in the morning, or better yet, do a “brain dump” the night before. Write down everything you want to get accomplished the next day. Once you have your list, think about the 2 or 3 things that MUST get done and number those in order. For everything else, see what can be delegated to someone else or even eliminated (you know, those things that would be nice if they got done, but it’s not a must-do).
This simple practice helps you prioritize and helps you by releasing you from wasting time with insignificant tasks that add no value to your day.
Tip #2: Get the worst task out of the way first, so you are free to do what you really want to do later.
Do the worst first
One of the best books on productivity I’ve read is “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy (it’s a SHORT, quick read so you can finish it even if you “have no time”). :) The title is based on an analogy that Mark Twain alluded to in his quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Tip #3: Don’t ignore your own well-being just because you can’t say no.
Sometimes we have a choice
It’s true that there are some things we HAVE to do, but being able to eliminate some of what is on your list to preserve your own well-being is HUGE. Give yourself permission to do this. If you are always saying, “I’m too busy”, or you say yes to things knowing you really shouldn’t, take a look at your calendar, and see what can be crossed off.
A note on not saying, “yes” so often to people… Don’t get me wrong, I do believe God calls us to have a servant heart and help others, but we can’t possibly be all things to all people all the time.
The more I try to take on everything that comes my way, I find myself staying up late to get it all done. Before I know it I’m skipping my exercise, not spending enough time with my family, and so goes the start of a vicious cycle of TIRED.
Tip #4: Close those “tabs” before you are forced to reboot!
Multi-tasking is overrated
When, exactly, the phrase multi-tasking became a badge of honor I do not know, but don’t be fooled. You are better off to do ONE thing at a time, with intention, without distraction, and to completion. Tackling too much at once only divides your attention, as you partially engage in many things instead of fully engaging in just one until it’s done. Otherwise, you’ll feel like a laptop with twenty-five tabs open at once.
Tip #5: Let your values determine your priorities then find a way to get it done.
Our values shape our priorities
Our values also play a role in how we manage time because they help determine our priorities. For example, if you value being debt-free you will find a way to make regular budgeting and saving for an emergency a priority. If you’re a mother who values health and nutrition, you will make meal planning a priority for your family. If something is important to you, you’ll find a way to do it. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. Don’t let your excuses be that you don’t have “enough time”.
So here’s to finishing our priority lists with time to spare, and freeing ourselves from the pressure of living up to unrealistic expectations, and feeling rushed and overwhelmed. Making the best use of our time isn’t always easy, but like anything else, we get better with practice.
Most importantly, just keep doing what you can, give yourself grace when you fall short, and remember, tomorrow is another day.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12