I’m having a hard time managing all the things I want and need to do every day. How can I juggle a full-time job, keeping my home clean, regular exercise, making myself some healthy meals, and the hobbies I’m passionate about, all while maintaining relationships with my friends? There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day! – Janie in Norfolk, NE
Truth be told, how to effectively manage time is an age-old topic. There are scores and scores of books, articles, podcasts, and so on whirling around the issue. In the past, I allowed myself to be sucked into this maelstrom, and subsequently felt overwhelmed by my to-do list. Then, a wise woman told me, “You make the time, you don’t find it.” It was a lightning bolt of clarity that helped me stop, take a step back, and reframe my narrative. You must create a moment of composure to break the cycle and choose a path forward.
Take a 5-minute break. Go for a walk, find a place to sit and focus on a single object, or close your eyes and breathe. Aim your attention on the air coming in and out of your lungs. Shake out your arms and roll your head. This will help calm yourself, and we think more clearly when we release tension. This brief break allows you examine and reevaluate your situation.
Question why you are caught up in the multitude of tasks and responsibilities. The key aspect of this exercise is to challenge everything, because you have the power of choice: the choice to start anew, to recognize what is superficial, and the judgment for what you keep, adjust, and toss.
A simple analogy is three buckets for this process to gain perspective. One bucket is work, another for necessities, and a third is feeding your soul. As you question each item, quickly sort what goes into each bucket. As you are mentally sorting, seriously explore which things can or should be discarded.
Permission to Let Go
There are always things we need to let go of. What’s hard is recognizing it, and then taking action. The easiest way to accomplish this is to give yourself permission to be imperfect. Let the little things go. Life is not perfect, and you don’t have to be perfect either!
As you work with your three buckets, you must prioritize each item. Lists are an effective tool to help me register what’s on my plate. For others, stickie notes on a wall work well, or using a whiteboard. Classifying what must be done during the week, or on specific days of a week, helps focus attention to those items. Reserve space in your schedule for each bucket as you prioritize. This process will spark creative thinking to explore alternate flavors for your plate.
Find Short Cuts
Look for efficiencies and how you can share the load. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize how anything could be easier, so ask friends and family for ideas. Rather than dismiss their suggestions, try a new way, and see what works.
Depending upon the items in your buckets, you may be able to combine two items. Or combine a task with another activity. For example, when I am prepping for the holidays, I wrap gifts while watching movies. So I enjoy a movie (feed my soul bucket) and relax while accomplishing a portion of a task.
Finding enough time in the day starts with making a hard stop. To reset your priorities and identify what matters, you need the pause. You are empowering yourself to make new choices. Remember, you make the time, you don’t find it.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.