I haven’t had time / I don’t have time.

It’s by far the most common response that I’ve heard since I started checking in with my clients and myself about how resolutions are going three weeks into the new year.  As a psychologist, I hold my clients accountable for their new year resolutions because they’re usually tied to something that we’re working on in their therapy or coaching.  As a person, I like to be self-aware and move the needle forward on my goals.

Surely you’ve caught yourself uttering the same words more recently than you care to admit, too.  But is that actually true? Or is it some other reason that you haven’t followed through with (fill in the blank)?  A colleague of mine shared this TED talk on time management that hit the nail on the head

I don’t have time. = It’s not a priority.

Seriously.  There are only three reasons why people don’t follow through with big changes like improving their health, saving more money, etc.  If you’re not doing it, it’s because:

  1. You don’t really want to do it because it’s not important to you.
  2. You’re not uncomfortable enough where you’re at with (fill in the blank).
  3. You’re benefiting somehow from not changing that task.

And that’s okay.  But own the REAL reason why you haven’t got around to whatever it is.  Don’t blame it on not having enough time.

The fact is you get the same 168 hours each week as everyone else.  Now ask yourself, “How am I spending my time?”  If you’re like most people, you won’t be entirely sure how to answer that question.  That’s because you spend your hours being reactive, not proactive.  The world around you dictates how your time is spent.  Think about it:  the co-worker that interrupts you, a text message that pings as you’re working on a project, the e-mails streaming into your inbox, social media RT and likes, phone calls….you get the idea.  

Here’s how to change that: Do a time study.

Write down everything you do for one week.  Time spent emailing, on the phone, texting, on social media, watching TV, exercising. Hell, track your bathroom breaks, too.  Review each of your activities at the end of the week, and ask yourself, “Was that the best use of my time?”  And then follow it up with, “How can I improve my use of time?” because the reality is:

Time is a choice.  Your choice.

Part of the problem is that most people never learned to value their (or other’s time for that matter).  No one ever taught us to think about time in terms of value.  I know I didn’t fully learn this until later in life when I started my business as I got pulled in a thousand directions trying to wear too many hats.  I was tired, overwhelmed, and resentful because I spent my days reacting to the demands of my business and my life.  

I bet you’ve felt the same way, friend – a slave to all, a master of nothing.

That’s a recipe for exhaustion and burnout especially when life in Miami already moves pretty fast.  You’d be shocked how many people I work with that have a time management problem instead of anxiety or depression.  A lot of their sadness, worry, irritability, and overwhelm start to disappear when they master their schedule.  Some of the other benefits include:

  • Making fewer mistakes
  • Missing fewer appointments
  • Less conflicts
  • Less unintentionally wasted time
  • More free time
  • Less effort
  • Less stress
  • Better focus
  • More accomplished
  • Increase motivation/ better morale
  • More confidence and satisfaction
  • Fewer feelings of inadequacy
  • Less procrastination and avoidance
  • More emotional capacity

Consider how it all comes together.  

Say you start rabidly guarding your schedule like every hour is worth $400.  You begin asking yourself, “Is X worth $400? $300? $200? $100?” By choosing to do things in relation to the value you place on them.  That’s prioritization.  If you do this during work hours, you’ll remain focused and get more done.  You also won’t have to stay at work until 7pm, and you can hit the gym like you promised yourself or have a date night with your S.O.  When you keep your promises to yourself, you start to trust and believe more in yourself.  You grow closer to your S.O.  Your self-esteem surges.  Suddenly all the crap that was getting you down is gone.  When you’re feeling lighter, your creativity returns and you connect with others more authentically.  

Life feels good again.

Just from making choices about your time.  So do yourself a favor and make it a goal to become the master of your time.  You’ll definitely reap the benefits.  

Ready to get a better handle on your time but not sure how, huh?  No worries, friend.  I got you covered with 6 actionable steps.

1. Schedule time to schedule your time.  

Once a week, sit down for 20 minutes and plan out what the coming week looks like.

2. Start a rock collection.  

Think of the events, meetings, and tasks in your calendar are either big, medium, or small rocks.  Think of your calendar as a jar.  To make the most out of the space in your jar, you have to be strategic about which rocks you put into it.

3. Do what’s important, not what’s urgent.  This is an oldie, but a goodie from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit book.

This is an oldie, but a goodie from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book.  The urgent stuff will get done anyway because, duh!, it’s urgent.  So do the important tasks first because those are the things that will help you move the needle forward on your goal(s).

4. Don’t multi-task. 

Seriously, your brain is wired to be a unitasker.  You lose 20% of your time to refocusing every time you shift tasks. Doing 2 things at once will cost you 40% of your time (approximately 3 hours 12 minutes of an 8-hour workday).

5. Beat Parkinson’s Law with Hortsman’s corollary and a tomato.   

Parkinson’s law says that tasks will expand to the time allotted to them.  Horstman reasoned that work will then contract to the time we give it.  Put these 2 premises to work by using the Pomodoro technique which is set timers for 30 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest.

6. Schedule white space. 

Whether you pursue your latest hobby or sit at home reading or volunteer at a non-profit or spend some time in the park enjoying good weather under a tree’s shade, it doesn’t matter.  To feel fully human, you need time to recharge doing the things you love and that bring you joy and creativity.

I made a cheat sheet of these actionable steps (the same ones I teach my clients) that I want to share with you.  Type in your info below, hit enter, and meet me in your inbox to get your free copy.  

Need help ASAP? You can reach me at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 20-minute Clarity Consult if you need immediate support to manage your overwhelm and reverse your burnout and exhaustion.  While you’re here, share this post with a friend, brother, sister, mother, or colleague by clicking the share boxes to the left.  They might need it, too.

YES! I want to detox my schedule!