4 Ways to Find More Time
When I was a kid, way back in the 90's, everyone had so much time to do things, and paying for services was much less common than it is now. I mean, growing up, my dad was always mowing lawns and doing stuff in the garden. But us? We have gardeners. Not because we're really wealthy, but because Dan's time is so limited. As a kid, we had homemade treats in our lunchbox, but now, although I still do it, I find most of Missy's friends have store bought snacks because their mum's don't have time to bake. I went to a private school and remember a few friends talking about how they had a lady come in to vacuum each week. Now, I know heaps of people who have a cleaner come in because they're struggling to juggle work and home.
Services that were really uncommon when I was growing up, or were perceived as only being for wealthy people, are now booming and being paid for by 'normal' mums and dads. Things like paying someone to come in and clean your home, having a VA to help with emails, sending laundry out, having a guy to come and clean your pool, kid's tutoring, click and collect groceries, hire-a-hubby general maintenance services and gardeners.
And it's all because we don't have enough time. The world has changed and we're always 'on'. Work and home time has merged. We answer work calls and respond to emails throughout the evenings. If one of Dan's client sites goes down at 8pm on a Sunday, well, the boys fix it. Every year we seem to be running faster than the year before.
People can blame it on mobile phones, the internet, work and life balances being out or whatever. We can say it's a shame, that it didn't used to be this way, and it shouldn't be this way. But the fact remains, whether it's right or wrong, being time-poor is an everyday reality for many, many people.
So today I thought I'd share 4 ways to help you find more time - so you can spend that precious resource on achieving the things that matter to you, and not on the things that don't.
1. Be ruthless and cut down your obligations
There are some things you really care about, and others that you're doing out of a sense of obligation and guilt. Be ruthless and cut them out. I'm happy to bake for the fete and cake stall, happy to help with club logos and marketing, but I'm just not doing garden maintenance. And I'm not going to apologize for it. It's not my forte, and I don't have time. C'est la vie.
If you remember first year economics, everything has an opportunity cost. If you spend two hours on one thing, it costs you two hours on something else. So it really makes sense to optimize your time and make sure it's spent where you want it to be spent. You can spend two hours at the gym each day, volunteer at church, look after a neighbour's kids, take on an extra job, or sleep late on weekends if you want - and none of those is right or wrong so don't feel guilty. But remember there's always a cost - so make sure you spend the time on something that means something to you. Cut out the stuff you don't care about, and focus on what's important. To you.
For us, Dan works huge hours, because it's important to him. But when he's home his top priority is the girls. He doesn't do housework, doesn't do washing, or reading, he doesn't do bedtimes or groceries or cooking or packing the dishwasher. But he does play with his daughters, and they have the most amazing relationships. And, I won't lie, sometimes some help would be awesome, but for them to have that, I'm happy to do the other stuff. The cost of him dedicating so much time to grow the company, is me having to pick up what he can't do. It's not right or wrong, it's just the way we do life.
So what can you cut from your obligations? The ones you really don't want to be part of, the ones you see as a waste? What can you shift or downsize so the time you are spending is spent on stuff that means something? Don't feel guilty - there's nothing to feel guilty about if you're creating a life that matters to you.
2. Delegate all that basic grunt-work
You know those annoying jobs that you do because you have to - even though you know your time would be better spent elsewhere? They're generally repetitive, simple, long and boring, and often get put off until they're a problem - and then you have to spend ages fixing them. Write a list of all those things - whether for work or home, and think about getting someone to help you out.
If it's for work, Upwork is the bomb. I had someone Pin all my images recently (yep, you read that right), and they saved me about 6 hours - which was so worth it. It was awesome just having someone else sort it for me. I know Dan has a company that manage all his computer updates, software and maintenance - they log on remotely and make sure all the computers are optimized and up to date. It's not that we can't do these things - it's just that our time is better spent elsewhere.
So think about those time consuming jobs you hate, whether it's cleaning the bathrooms, grocery shopping, bookkeeping or cleaning the car. And have a look at how much it would realistically cost to delegate them - you might be very surprised at how affordable it is.
3. Get more efficient
How efficient are you really? Are you constantly at the supermarket picking up things you forgot? Or asking Hubby to do it on the way home from work? Wouldn't it be better to spend 10 minutes writing a grocery list before you go shopping? And wouldn't it save time if you bought 3 bottles of milk each week instead of having to keep ducking out to the shops?
Being more efficient is about looking at how you do things, and how you could do them better. By doing them faster or in a better order. I often 'stack' things together - so Missy's dance syncs in with my days at the office (the dance studio is a few doors down), and I get extra time at work which I'd otherwise spend just waiting or shopping. Afterwards I do the groceries - I'm already out and Dan is late on Mondays so it works. And I'll sort dinner for Missy and myself at the same time - a little smoked salmon, salad, an avocado and punnet of blueberries to share - we both love this dinner, it's a big treat, ridiculously fast, and Dan hates it, so he's not missing out!
Batching is another brilliant way to be more efficient. Don't head down the street for one job, wait until you have a handful of errands to run. Don't run half a wash of whites, wait until you've got a full one. It's more efficient. Likewise, everyone knows I focus on different things at the office on different days - don't tell me about a maintenance issue on Wednesday because I don't care - I'll care about it on Monday when I organize maintenance. Everyone also knows that the days I blog are sacred - I've created the time I have to blog, because I've optimized the efficiency of other things.
So how can you be more efficient? How can you stack things together so they make more sense, or bundle stuff so you can save yourself time?
4. Get enough rest
It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's really important. If you have kids, you'll know how they get when they're tired - they can't focus, their moods are scary, and they can't even play, let alone do anything productive. Adults are the same - if you don't get enough rest you can't focus, your moods are all over the place and you'll do everything slower and with more mistakes.
Loads of time-saving articles recommend 'getting up an hour earlier' - yes, that will work, but not if you're not going to bed an hour earlier too. So if you're a morning person, go for it. I love getting up at 5am, but can't maintain it because I'm such a night owl. In the end, it doesn't matter when you're sleeping, as long as you're getting enough - and that's different for everyone.
And when I say 'get enough rest' I'm not only talking about sleep either. It's important to just rest. To zone out and give our brains a break. Do something mindless and not think. There are different types of tiredness - physical, emotional and mental, and many of us are more often mentally tired than anything else these days, just with the sheer amount of stuff we have going on.
Yesterday was Monday, and last night I was exhausted. I'd been up and running since 7, given pep talks and convinced Missy to actually go to school, got her there in the nick of time, ran to the office, crossed a heap of stuff of the to-do list and fixed two big longstanding issues, paid bills, organized Dan with a list of stuff he had to do - and made sure he did it, spent 40m gossiping over coffee, picked Missy up from school, ensured she ate, got her to dance on time, headed back to work and fixed another issue, picked her up, prevented a meltdown, did a full grocery shop, unpacked the car, unpacked the bags, did reading, did piano practice, gave more pep talks, put washing on, fed the child, bathed the child... all while toting around a 4 month old and doing feeds, nappies etc.... before collapsing on the couch at about 8pm. My brain was foggy and I couldn't think straight.
OMG, I'm exhausted just reading that! Anyway, I ended up playing some silly game on my phone for a while, then watched my latest c-grade Netflix series. An hour later I kind of 'woke up' and was completely fine - I went and did a heap more stuff until bedtime. My mind just needed to float away for a while and take a rest.
Its so important to have enough rest and sleep - do you get enough? How can you work it so you can get more? Do you notice when your body tells you you need to take a break? And do you listen? How else can you rest - read a book, exercise, meditate, tai-chi?
So there we go! Some practical ways to help you spend time on the things that matter by cutting down on obligations you don't care about, delegate what you can, get more efficient with what you are doing, and making sure you have enough rest.
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