You probably have a lot of stuff to do in your day to day life. We’re all cramming our lives with more and more stuff, more and more things to do and to be and tasks to cross off our to-do-lists. Sometimes, things can get overwhelming, and it feels like all the things you have to get done are taking over your life.
So, how do we battle this feeling of never having enough time and rushing from task to task? Here are my ten suggestions:
It’s an oldie but goodie: You have to know what your most important things are. And yes, you have to choose. The easiest way to do this is to write down all the areas you have to get stuff done in. You can divide your life into categories, i.e. writing/school/family/fitness etc. or you can divide it into the roles you have to play, i.e. writer/student/daughter/runner etc. This is up to you, whatever suits you best. And you can have as many categories/roles as you want (although obviously, the fewer the easier), but you HAVE TO number them. Yes, that’s right, HAVE TO. There’s only one thing that can be your number one priority! Your priorities can shift over time, but if you have them listed by number, it will be easier to know what choices to make to advance your top priorities. For example, if you have written ‘writer’ as your number 1 role, you know that you must choose writing over number 2, daughter, if you have to choose between writing and family time.
- Plan, plan and plan some more
Get a calendar or any kind of system that works for you, and then use it! Make sure to write things down in a way that makes it easy for you to keep the big picture in mind while still getting the little things done from day to day.
- Determine time
You need to know how much time you will spend on your different roles every day. Go back to your prioritised list of roles from #1 and then determine the amount of time you want to spend on that role every day. I.e. if ‘writing’ is your top priority, and you want to spend 2 hours on that, you might need to take some time from #7, working out, for it to work. However, when making your time plan, make sure to leave time for transport, meals and some downtime as well.
- Tackle “Personal Assistant” tasks every day
Make it a habit to tackle all the little tasks – what I call “Personal Assistant” tasks – every day, so they don’t sneak up on you and become a huge, overwhelming pile. This can be things like calling your dentist, answering e-mails, grocery shopping or cleaning. If you do just a few of these tasks each day, you’ll not be caught on Saturday with a messy house and a lot of small things you have to spend all day doing.
Find out if there are some of your tasks that you might be able to delegate. This can be to an assistant or a colleague, but also the little things like asking your roommate to do the dishes if you’re pressed for time or your friend to buy a book for you when they’re at the bookstore – anything that can save you time, really. Remember, though, to be nice to people! And that every little thing counts – you might be able to write a blog post in the time that you would have spent at the library!
- Say ‘no’ to non-essentials
If it’s not on your priorities list, it probably shouldn’t take up space in your life. It’s as simple as that, really. If you’re spending an hour a day scrolling through Facebook or watching “Say Yes to the Dress”, yet your top three priorities are writing a bestseller, becoming a top lawyer and spending time with your kids, you could probably do without the distractions until your work is done for the day. Along the same lines, if you’re prioritising your family and work, you will have to say ‘no’ if your friend wants you to go out on Wednesday night and you have family time and/or work planned. It’s that simple, and that hard.
- Schedule fun
When that’s said, however, make time for some fun in your schedule. If you work all the time, even on fun things, you’re going to burn out at some point. To avoid this, put something fun into your schedule as well. This can be all sorts of things, whatever makes you happy and gets you away from your work, whether that is fishing with a friend, a day at the museum with your family, or a night under the covers with Netflix.
- Schedule inspiration
Along the same lines, you need to keep yourself inspired. This is best done in small doses every day, like the practical things, so that your lack of inspiration doesn’t pile up until you feel all uninspired and can’t remember why you do what you do. The best way to keep yourself inspired is to find out what inspires you and then set a reminder every day to seek it out. This can be whatever you like, whether that is fifteen minutes of Pinterest, a walk in nature or a Ted talk.
- Review regularly
Make sure you regularly (once a month is what I prefer) look back on how your time management is working, whether you feel balanced or frazzled and determine what you need to change as well as what is working. Reviewing is the only way that you can know if what you’re doing is working! So look back, take stock, and adjust accordingly.
Last but not least, you need to take care of yourself. As they say in the flight security instructions, you have to help yourself before you help others. It’s literally impossible in the long term to be a good mom/employee/boss/writer if you don’t feel good yourself. So make time in your schedule EVERY DAY to do something for yourself, whether that is using a great shower gel in your morning shower or taking the night off to watch a movie at home. Make a conscious effort to do something good for yourself every day, and promise me not to feel guilty about it – just look on it as necessary maintenance to keep your life running smoothly.
These are just ten ways to create a little more balance in your life. There are a lot of things out there for you to try, but I think that the most important thing to do is to be aware of the way you balance your time and take time to prioritise and adjust as needed.