Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Managing our time is harder today than it has ever been – even as we have slowed down in Covid. Why is that? We all have experienced that feeling of having too many priorities and too little time to do them justice. Yet, creating time to really grow our influence and impact in our work, and create a life we love is absolutely vital. Nothing can choke the joy out of life faster than feeling overwhelmed or worse, burned out. One of the most important things you can do to avoid burnout, anxiety and as sense of being “not enough,” is to create the time and focus you crave. Yes. You can create it!
It’s actually not as hard as we might think to create more free time. Simply ask yourself a few questions. Here’s a coaching secret: Questions are powerful, because they focus your attention and generate solutions. You just have to ask the right questions!
Ask yourself these questions and create more space in your life:
What are my three greatest distractions? The most common distractions and time wasters are often electronic in nature. Your cell phone, laptop, and the television can leave you wondering where the time went. Other distractions might include an annoying neighbor, an organization that requires too much of your time, or frequent headaches. - Think of ways to eliminate or minimize these distractions and spend your time in a more meaningful way. - Set aside “tech-free” time in your day. - Remember it is okay to not respond immediately, but to plan times to respond to others’ demands. - Close your email and turn off your phone for periods of time. - Build in buffer time blocks for unexpected things. - Set no more than three priorities in the day that you will do, and everything else moves down the list.
Am I making the best use of the free time I already have available? When you do have free time, how do you use it? Consider both the small blocks of time you have available throughout the day and the larger segments of time that you have free. - If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, how do you use that time? - Are you using your time in the car as productively as possible? - You could use the time to brainstorm or listen to educational programs. - Examine all the spare time you have each day and resolve to use it more productively – which by the way, can include relaxing and recharging – that counts as productive!!!!
What are the three greatest distractions I have at work? An enthusiastically loud officemate – which in my case is my husband – might be neutralized with headphones. You can turn off the ringer on your phone. Think of the distractions you face, and pair them with possible solutions, instead of just trying to power through. Be willing to try something, and if it doesn’t work, try something else. It’s worth it.
What are my priorities? Make a list of your work and personal priorities. You can’t focus your time if you’re unaware of your priorities. You can focus your attention by reminding yourself of your priorities each day. If earning income is absolutely top of the list, then revenue-generating efforts must come first. If family time is more important, then work responsibilities will slide. If two things seem in conflict, then ask yourself: - Which one could be replaced if I failed to make it a priority? - Is there a way to strike a balance rather than an all-or-nothing approach on one of them?
What are the optional activities in my life? Make a list of everything you do in your life that’s optional – from watching TV to playing softball on the weekends. Some of those activities add to your life in meaningful ways, while others do not. Which of those activities are you willing to give up to create more space in your life? (Remember: you can experiment. This is not a permanent decision. You have the right to change your mind at any time.)
How can I simplify my life? How many blogs, apps, and podcasts do you follow? Are they all worth the time? - How often do you check your email? Is that more often than necessary? - Can you hire someone to mow your grass or clean your home? - Can you get rid of a few possessions that are taking up time and space in your life?
What would I do if I had more free time? How would you spend that time? With whom would you spend it? If you can identify how you want to spend your free time, you might become more motivated to create more free time in your life.
Most of all, if you are you lacking enough time to enjoy your life, it’s time to set priorities and reduce distractions. Where we focus our attention, we flourish. It naturally follows that when our attention is spread too thin, everything suffers – especially our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
If you are facing burnout or anxiety, it is likely you have a priority setting issue. Decide what is most important to you, and set the rest aside. The resulting space you create has an immediate impact and the results are typically mind-blowingly life-altering.