I wish I had more time I thought to myself for the hundredth time. The last few weeks have seemed to require more time than I’ve had to give and it has been all I could do to stay afloat. There was no time for reading, my apartment saw disarray reminiscent of my teenage years, and I could barely get the necessities done.
I’ve been swearing for weeks that “I just need to get myself together.” Yet, the past weeks have not presented any opportunity to do so. Over a year ago I felt similarly and so I tracked how I was using my time. I remember being shocked that I found 10 extra hours to put toward my two highest values of growth and relationships. When I did this again recently, some extra time appeared, but not 10 hours.
I think we all wish we had more time. No matter where we are in life, time always seems scarce. So, how do we find more time in our already busy days? We don’t find time, we optimize it. And, I think our responsibilities determine how we optimize our time.
I don’t have children, I live in an apartment complex that does my yard work, and I have a quick commute to work. I have way more time than many others, but I still find myself with too much to do and too little time. I get that many people have way more to do than me (Phil for example); but no matter who you are, I think you can optimize your time.
1. Track Time
Most of us have a budget for our finances. We know where we spend our money. But, we rarely track our time and for that reason sometimes we don’t recognize what we are spending it on. After I tracked my time with our TimeSaver exercise (where I originally gained 10 hours of time), I was shocked at some of the places I was still wasting my time.
Action Step: Download our TimeSaver exercise and track your time for one week.
I think everyone can start here, but the more responsibilities you have the less wasted time you will identify. If you track your time and aren’t wasting any, move on to Focusing and Combining Time.
2. Focus Time
I was disappointed recently when I tracked my time and found that there was hardly any wasted time that I could re-purpose. When I looked at where I was spending my time, I was engaged in appropriate activities. However, I was not engaged effectively. When I first sat down to write this post, I spent the first 30 minutes in and out of texts, emails, and brainstorming.
While writing was what I needed to be doing, I drastically increased the time it took by being distracted while I was trying to do it. Usually, I have a pre-work ritual that helps me send a message to my brain that it is time to work. In attempt to save time, I decided to forgo the ritual and ended up in the middle of a disjointed and less productive session.
Action Step: Create a pre-work ritual that allows you to get your mind and body ready to focus. It is no different than a pregame warm-up before a sport event. The more focused we are the more we can accomplish.
3. Combine Time
I have far less responsibilities than most and I don’t usually need to combine my time. I can always gain three hours by giving up watching the Giants on Sundays, but as of now (subject to change if they don’t improve) I refuse to give up the time. In order to be able to watch the game though, I need to do other things during it. I cook, clean, do laundry and other menial tasks while the game is on.
Where I don’t often need to combine time, I know Phil does. In working on the Professional Rebellion I’ve recognized that he doesn’t multitask (as the research will tell you that this is ineffective), but he optimizes his time by combining activities. Where I will listen to music while I exercise, he listens to podcasts or audio books. Many of his phone calls take place while he is driving or on a walk.
Action Step: Identify areas where you can do more than one thing. Car rides, chores, exercise, and cooking can all be supplemented with an audiobook, a podcast, or a video.
Start with the TimeSaver and work your way down. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. What sets us apart is how we spend it.