Do you need to make more time in your week?
Do you find that your days are always full, with no time to do anything?
Or are you always chasing your tail trying to catch up doing the things you meant to do yesterday but never found the time, only to find you also haven’t got time today?
Well, I am here to tell you that there are very few people who have absolutely no time to do anything!
I know I can hear you telling me that you literally have no time free in your day, but I’m here to say that isn’t true.
You may be exhausted and don’t want to do something. Or maybe the stuff you NEED to do is not as exciting as something you ENJOY doing. But these are all different issues to having NO TIME.
Let me show you how you can make more time in your week.
Track where you spend your time
During my consultant days, I often had to improve organisational processes. There is a specific technique I used to do this, and I figure it can be easily adapted to work in your personal life to try and make more time in your day.
The approach is easy, but you need to be honest.
The aim is to detail all the activities you do over a week and how long it takes you to do them. You can choose to exclude your time at work and sleep as these may be unchangeable. Although, it may also be interesting to see how much time you actually spend on these activities to see if there are any issues. We all know how easy it is to get sucked into staying later at work than you expected! And if this happens frequently, then you may need to decide how this can change.
The result of recording EVERYTHING allows you to see where you spend the most significant volume of your time. This gives you a clue on whether you can change any areas to gain a bit of extra time.
If tracking your time for a week seems like hard work, you could track your time over 1 day. But be aware that you get better results if you do it over the week as there are bound to be some activities you do on one day that you don’t do on another.
Work out how you spend your time
By taking this approach, you should be able to get answers to the following:
- Are you spending your days on the right things?
- How is your work-life balance?
- Is the start and end of the day affecting the activities you do?
- Are you doing the right tasks at the right time?
- What is the balance between spontaneous and planned activities?
- Are there any opportunities to redistribute tasks to other family members?
By following this approach, you should be able to look at tasks you often perform. You can see if there is a pattern or a more streamlined way of doing it. Streamlining your common ‘processes’ is the path to gaining extra time to spend on something more fulfilling.
How to track your time
Follow these steps to record and evaluate your time to see where you can make time savings:
Step 1: Record the time you spend on activities.
And I mean really record it. Don’t guess. Include everything from a quick browse on Facebook to slobbing in front of the TV.
Take it in either 15 or 30-minute blocks and record it as you go. If you don’t, you are bound to forget what you were ‘actually’ doing and for ‘how long’.
Step 2: At the end of the week, review the data.
Brainstorm the observations, opportunities, and issues to see if there are any alternative ways of doing things
Step 3: Create an action plan to take advantage of the opportunities.
Examples of where you could save some time:
Shopping – if you do a weekly supermarket shop, this could be broken down as follows (the bracketed times are the times it takes me):
- Writing list (10 minutes)
- Time taken to get there and back (at least 40 minutes)
- Shopping time (50 minutes)
- Packing away time (15 minutes).
By switching to online shopping and creating a
If you tend to shop whenever you run out of something, then the above approach will help you further. If you add up all the time spent on each of the individual trips, you’ll see this is an even more significant time drain.
Time saved – 30 minutes per week.
Watching TV – this is a bit of a challenge in my life. I know I spend FAR TOO much time watching the TV, but equally, I find it relaxing. When I did my time log, I noticed I was spending at least 3 hours watching TV a night. While I often did other things at the same time, such as social media and googling, this had to mean that what I was watching wasn’t that interesting. So I decided to make a rule that I wouldn’t watch TV until 9pm. This created masses of extra time. And it meant that what I chose to watch was stuff I found particularly entertaining rather than mundane time-wasting stuff.
Time saved – 1 to 2 hours a day!
Commuting to work – This is often a big chunk out of anybody’s day so to make good use of it is vital. If you take public transport, take the opportunity to either catch up with social media (if that is your thing) or checking your emails and replying. Then make the decision to not do these activities outside of these times.
If you drive and never find the time to read, then why not get audio versions of the books and listen while you drive.
Time saved – 5 hours a week.
Cooking – I found I spent on average 30-45 minutes working out what to eat and then cooking it each evening. The days that were more ‘efficient’ were the days where I could use a ready prepared meal. So I made it a mission to batch cook as much as I could. I bought this Freezer book to give me lots of ideas. I also started planning my meals at the start of each week. While this took only 5 – 10 minutes out of my day once a week, it saves the daily 5 minutes trying to work out what to have. This not only made evenings less fraught but helped with the weekly shopping as well. I now aim to have pre-cooked/prepared food at least 3 times a week.
Time saved – 1 1/2 hours over a week.
So in total, I carved out an extra 15 hours from my ‘busy’ life without to much bother. Admittedly, this has meant making drastic changes to my life, but as the saying goes, “You can’t get to where you want to be by doing the same thing you do today”.
These are just a few ideas to help you streamline your life to make room for doing something more interesting. What do you think you can do to make time in your life?