Reclaim Your Time

How To Reclaim Your Time

Overwhelmed? Got a million tabs open in your brain?

Don’t really think you’ll have time to finish reading this blog post? Kind of surprised that you even clicked on it considering how much you still have to do today? 

Well, one option is to listen to me reading this post here. But if podcasts aren’t your thing, then trust me. You need this info – it’ll pay you back in hours!

This blog post is for you if you’re desperate to reclaim your time and get your life back!

Don’t have enough time?

Before we jump in, let’s clear up this myth.

You DO have time. Tonnes of it. Let’s look at one week – you get 168 hours to play with. Take away 40 for work and 56 for sleep – that still leaves 72 hours! And every minute of those hours counts.

So what’s stopping you from creating a life that you’re proud of? The hard-to-swallow truth is, you’re choosing to use your time elsewhere.

Ready to do something about it? I’m about to share 6 easy to action tools that you can use right away to start to reclaim your time. Here’s what I’ll cover:

  • Take Back The Power
  • Identify Your MAIN Priorities
  • Make Some Space
  • Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
  • Keep Business Hours
  • Make Every Minute Count

1. Take Back The Power

The first step to reclaim your time is to realise that YOU have so much more power over your day than you think you do. And every single hour you spend is YOUR CHOICE. So, when you come to plan your week ahead, put your priorities into your schedule FIRST.

Newsflash, you’re a grown up now! You get to choose your bedtime, your wake-up time, how long you choose to commute, your office hours (you can change your job if you need to), your social media scrolling, your cat-video watching…

Once you accept that you have the power to shape every hour, day, week, month…you can decide if you’re using your power wisely. All the little throw-away decisions you make are determining how you spend your life. And the quality of your life.

How you spend your time = How you spend your life.

You have the power to reclaim your time! So, Oh powerful one, what you do want more of? Free time, play time, family time, you time? Let’s dig into that question!

2. Identify Your MAIN Priorities

Sadly, you really can’t have IT ALL. You have limited time and it can all end up being frittered away on the urgent, but not important stuff. So let me remind you that we get one shot at this life… and time is ticking down every day!

In order to reclaim your time, you have to make some choices. And it starts with learning about you and your MAIN priorities. Here are 4 questions to help you identify yours.  There are no wrong answers – because these are YOUR priorities!

Question 1: What gives you a sinking/disappointed feeling because you wish you were doing more of it?

  • Playing with the kids
  • Dating your partner
  • Learning a new skill
  • Starting a new business
  • Practising self-care
  • Increasing your fitness
  • Writing that book
  • Volunteering
  • Fill your own blank

Question 2: If you had to summarise this year in a letter, what would the highlights be?

Question 3: What achievements in work, family, relationships and self-development would make your next year AMAZING?

Question 4: In your perfect life, how would you spend your early mornings, evenings and weekends?

Write your priorities down and make them real. Stick it on the inside of your wardrobe door. Stick them on a vision board, where there’s no denying them. Because you HAVE to take your priorities seriously.

Truth bomb…NOBODY cares about this list as much as you do.

Once you know the things that matter most to you, that give your life purpose and make you feel amazing – there’s no excuse for not making space for them.

3. Make Some Space

Now we’re really getting somewhere, because, in order to reclaim your time, you need to clear out the junk from your day. Let’s take a good look at what’s on your to-do list.

Is there anything obvious that can you delegate, delete or defer?

  • Cleaning
  • Admin
  • Accounting
  • Anything you HATE so much that you leave it until it keeps you up at night.
  • Don’t be afraid to outsource or ask for help!

How about your ‘urgent’ unimportant time-wasters? Let’s cut those down to size!

  1. Phone pinging every 2 minutes? Turn your notifications off!
  2. Got to rush to the bank to pay a bill? Set your payments up to go off automatically.
  3. Need to cook dinner again? Make batches of your favourite meals.
  4. Endless admin? Delegate some items.
  5. Extremely high standards/self-imposed obligations? Is it worth missing out on your dreams?
  6. Overcommitted? Learn to say no. Have an over-commitment detox!
  7. Needy frenemy? Reduce time with her.
  8. Netflix and chilling your life away? Become aware of home much you’re watching.
  9. Social media addiction? Hmm, I’m still battling with this one! Try the Offtime App.
  10. Procrastination? Take a deep breath, stop overthinking and get started.
  11. Lack of focus? Try breaking your day into half-hour chunks, where you focus deeply on one item and then take a break.

All of these mini-tips can help you to reclaim your time so that you can spend a few more precious minutes on your priorities.

4. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

In order to reclaim your time, there needs to be a little advanced planning and some boundaries! And while this might seem strict (and time-consuming) scheduling will set you free to enjoy your time so much more than you do right now. Scheduling is the tool you are going to use to create space to build your dream life. And my favourite scheduler FYI is Trello

  1. Start by making sure you have time to meet your basic needs – go ahead and schedule your active time, rest, self-development
  2. Schedule the time that your work/commute and other responsibilities require (the ones that have survived the over-commitment detox). Limit these items to 1-3 per day. 
  3. Then, take a look at your list of priorities and schedule in regular slots to include those.
  4. Make space for downtime too.
  5. Then protect this schedule aggressively!

The world around you is designed to grab your attention and eat up your time – but you are the one in charge. So be empowered by the thought that only YOU can make the decision to reclaim your time and fill your life with the things that you WANT to be doing.

5. Keep Business Hours

Whether you work for someone or are a freelance entrepreneur, this is the tool that will allow you to reclaim your time in buckets…

Stick to business hours! Set a time to finish…and then, FINISH!

There’s no need to feel guilty about doing that because this is your one short life. And nobody wishes that they’d spent more time at work when they’re on their deathbed. Plus, you’ll do a far better job once you are rested, and not feeling resentful.

I know it’s easier said than done, so here are some ideas to help you:

  • Be clear with your clients about your business hours.
  • Manage your employer’s expectations when they ask you to stay longer.
  • If necessary, create a way for clients/your employer to contact you in an emergency.
  • Resist checking your email after you’ve finished working for the day.
  • If you do check, don’t respond when it isn’t your working hours – doing so will only teach your client/employer that you don’t mind being contacted during your downtime. So stick to your own boundaries!
  • Make business decisions that are in line with your time-priorities – eg arrange meetings when it suits you.
  • And of course, be sure to knuckle down and get your work-stuff done during work hours, and then you can have playtime!

6. Make Every Minute Count

To truly reclaim your time, you shouldn’t only focus on the big chunks, because all of the small snippets of time really add up too. I’m talking about between the gaps between meetings/appointments, while you’re travelling and while you’re waiting.

Do these sound like your current time-fillers?

Social media, YouTube, gossiping, complaining and comparing your life to others? Reading glossy mags designed to destroy your self-esteem?

Try these instead:

Play word games with your kids, write a love letter to your partner, declutter one shelf, read, listen to podcasts, meditate, take a nap (energy boost!), make that phone call you’ve been avoiding, look up a new recipe…you get the idea! You can maximise each snippet of time – by slotting in your priorities.

Takeaways

Evolving Boundaries

Remember, you don’t have to get your new schedule perfect the first time around, in fact, it’s totally natural for your boundaries to evolve.

As you start to manage your time differently, you should check in with your energy levels through the day. Consider keeping a time diary for a week to make a note of when you feel overwhelmed, energised, resentful or buzzing. to see if your schedule is working – and to identify where you need to make any tweaks.

Enforcing Boundaries

It’s essential that you set boundaries when it comes to your time, because there are so many people and other distractions fighting for your attention. You know how much time you have available, and you know how you want to spend it – so learn to say no when you need to.

And now you know how important every minute it, you can speak up when someone doesn’t respect your time. If that sounds too difficult, go at your own pace and practice. And if it’s something you’d like support with, take a look at this course I created, which teaches how to set boundaries (and say no).

Bottom Line

By now, you’ve learned 6 tools to help you to reclaim your time. You’ve accepted that you have the power to choose how your hours are spent, and you’ve identified your main priorities. You also know how to clear some room to schedule all of the things that are important to you, without letting work encroach on your leisure time. Every minute really does count!

This is your time. This is your life. And you won’t get a minute of it back. So go ahead and own it!