In this glorious modern age of convenience and automation, we are increasingly able to squeeze more into each day and lead very full, stimulating and exciting lives. Society’s most advanced minds continue to roll out incredible inventions to help us streamline processes, minimise input and maximise output with a heavy emphasis on “saving time”. A side effect, however, of our fast-paced society is what I call the “glorification of busy” and a pervasive human problem of feeling “time-poor”. It’s as if we have become used to using every single minute of each day so fill our lives with “busy-ness” but, consequently, then feel like we never have enough time for everything (sound familiar???)
One question I am consistently asked (both back in my corporate law days and even more so since transitioning into my entrepreneurial life) is “how do you fit it all in?” Firstly, I don’t – an entrepreneur’s work is never done. And, secondly, moving into a world where I am my own boss and have complete control over my time has taught me that I misunderstood time beforehand and still have much to learn. I still haven’t worked it all out (and probably never will) but thought I might share some of my top tips so far for inching closer to the ever-elusive goal of “creating more time” in my life. Hopefully some of them resonate and if you have any more of your own, I would LOVE to hear them!
1. Redefine time
Someone once told me that time is elastic – different people make different uses of their time i.e. Oprah Winfrey has the same number of hours in a day as you do (I know… wow). Ask yourself, are you actually time-poor? Or are you poor at managing your time? Do you spend a lot of time being busy with things that aren’t important or shouldn’t take that long? “Time-poor” implies you can’t fit something in, but what can’t you fit in? And is that something that you need to fit in? Re-evaluating your relationship with time is the first step and, for me, I realised I only thought I needed more time because the pace I set involved achieving a certain number of things per day. I didn’t need to achieve those things that day. It was my own speedo that was out of whack with what is realistically achievable or reasonably to be expected from the human body. I was only time-poor because my pace was outrageously fast, so the first step for me was to recalibrate my speedo and slow down.
2. Calendar management
Once I realised that I could achieve everything I need to each day if I readjusted my expectations of what I should achieve (including realising that some days can and should be spent doing nothing), the next step was to carve up the week to tally up what should go where (and colour-coding the shit out of it, accordingly – love me some colour-coordination).
If you use your calendar wisely, you can carve up your week from the outset to physically see if everything fits and where. That way, the week doesn’t get away from you before you’ve achieved anything.
You set end times for things too, so you don’t get carried away and give more time to certain things than is required. It also means you physically have to move things if there are changes along the way which, psychologically, helps me make sure that I don’t just cancel or sacrifice some things for others but rather “shuffle things around”. I have recently started scheduling in rest, for example, so that mentally I set aside that down time and can’t let it slip out of my mind and be forever forgotten until I’ve burnt out completely. I also have “meeting days” grouping high energy expenditure together and then separate those with “home days” for more introverted activities like computer admin or the books etc. Play around with the structure that suits you best, but it’s a great way to make sure all the building blocks are in there.
You can’t do everything. This was a HUGE revelation for me recently after several spectacular crash and burn episodes. Sounds simple, but somehow your body can fool you at times running on crazy adrenaline that makes you feel invincible. One way now that I pre-empt my temptation to take on too much is to find ways to delegate some of the work to others. Someone wise once told me that I should only be doing the things that only I can do. Everything else should be delegated because you only have so many hours each week and need to use them wisely. SUCH good advice! It took me ages to get used to it, but when I had spent a whole week labelling packets and lost seven full days of business development or “ideas time” I was able to see how inefficiently I had managed my time and how I should have delegated the packing and labelling elsewhere.
A major area where this has helped us is in the digital space. I was also running the Instagram accounts for our two businesses and my own page trying to reply to every comment, keep posting across all time zones and then creating content as well. Looking back, it’s easy to see how silly that was but at the time, I thought I was saving resources by keeping it all in house. I’ve since discovered how many amazing apps and platforms there are to help out not just with social media scheduling but also with other elements of your business like project management, reception work and even accounting. If you’re not ready to hire a physical employee, you could invest in these life-changing platforms. I’d highly recommend Schedugram for Instagram but there are thousands of others to look at. Do some investigating to see which one might suit your habits and business.