How to make time when there’s no time
There’s simply not enough time in a day.
Whether you run your own business or work for someone else–you might feel that you can never get everything done. There’s not enough time to complete all the projects, get rest, go for a run, read that book, play with your children, talk to your friend…
The day is too short to do everything you plan to do.
Or is it just an illusion?
You don’t have to go to bed every day with a feeling of guilt, disappointed that you didn’t accomplish enough. You can always create more time, even if you feel like you’re racing against the clock.
Here are some ideas that can help you make more time when it seems there’s not enough time:
1. Don’t take on more than you can handle
It’s an easy trap to fall into. If you accept all projects and requests without prioritising and analysing them, you may end up feeling overwhelmed. Plus, you probably won’t accomplish much.
To avoid burnout and plan your day more effectively, try to set your priorities right. Next, specify your goals that will help you stay true to your priorities. Then, decide if you really have the room to take on yet another project and fulfil yet another request—from your customer, colleague or family member. Will it really help you reach your goals?
Scheduling your day in advance or splitting it into specific blocks will help you get a good overview. It’s up to you to decide how to structure your agenda–with work, rest, self development or self care.
Before you say “yes” to another opportunity, analyse your capacity to make sure you’re not putting too much on your plate.
But to do it efficiently, you’ll need to…
2. Learn to say “no”
Saying “no” is not easy.
Especially in professional settings, when you don’t want to disappoint your customer, your colleague or your boss.
You might be afraid of judgement or worried that someone will perceive you as selfish and arrogant. But if you really care about your own priorities and goals, you’ll need to learn to protect your boundaries.
There’s nothing wrong with turning down a proposal if it’s not in sync with your priorities or if your schedule is already filled to the brim. Just make sure you do it in a polite manner.
It doesn’t mean you can’t help others. It simply means you need to save some time and energy for your own tasks and plans.
When you say “no” to a new project or meeting, you’re rejecting an idea, not a person. It’s an important distinction to make. Maybe this approach will help you find more courage to start saying “no” more often.
But even if you do, don’t forget to…
3. Use your “dead time” wisely
There must be some random, useless moments in your daily life. Standing in a queue, waiting for an appointment, sticking around on a bus stop or on the airport–there’s always a good opportunity to squeeze in some small tasks.
For example, you can use your commute time to read books or listen to podcasts. When you’re waiting in a long queue, you can jot down your ideas for a new article, study for exams or revise a vocabulary list.
You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you start maximising your downtime, even if it’s as short as two minutes. The little bits will connect into a bigger piece at some point and you’ll be able to spend more time on other activities.
For example, when I travelled on public transport regularly, I spent my time reading books. 10 or 30 minutes a day may not seem much, but at the end of the year I could tick off 35 titles on my to-read list.
The “dead time” isn’t really dead. You can always use it to your advantage to create more time, no matter how big your plans are.
Over to you
Now it’s your turn. What do you think you can do today to make more time? Is there something you can reject, redefine, combine or reschedule to escape the illusion of lack of time?
P.S. I share more tips on establishing the right approach to your time in my free e-book “How to make the best use of your time”.
And if you’re looking for advice on how to better manage your time when you juggle work with motherhood, have a look at my book “You’ve got this: How to continue your freelance career when you become a mother”.