Time…the most precious resource that we have at our disposal. Well, not to say that we should be throwing it away. In fact, we need to rein it in, tame it, and make better use of it. If only there was twenty-five hours in a day, I could do so much more. Maybe it isn’t that we need to do more; maybe we need to find out what is truly important, what is not, and make changes accordingly.
I love how so many ads depict families enjoying each other’s company in scenes of splendor in a park or on the beach. We all dream of those special times coming to pass but often lack the “time” or other resources to make it happen. Finding leisure time to relax, whether it is alone or with friends and family, takes planning and even sacrifice if you’re the busy woman so many of us are. Reshaping your schedule to find more time is a key, but, first, you must decide what it is you want to do with the time. A self-locating exercise will help you identify needed change.
Step 1. Write down what you want to do and why. What will you get out of doing more of these things? Try to list them in the order of importance. Don’t work on the whole list all at once; this will only cause frustration.
Step 2. Compare the above list to one that shows what you do with your time now. This list might be a little hard to compile if you don’t really pay attention to your day like most busy moms. It’s go, go, go all the time; you might even have a hard time finding time to do this. Try to keep a diary of your activities for a few days until you get a sense of where you are. You may discover that you don’t do any of the things that you want to. That’s why I’m writing this.
Step 3. After you see how crazy things are, ask yourself, “Can I weed out anything?” I know it’s hard. We might think that by getting all those things done that we are building better, happier lives; in reality, we might be preventing the creation of that beautiful life. “It sounds like a paradox, says Neil Fiore, Ph. D., a psychologist and executive coach in California, and the author of The Now Habit (Penguin Group, $15), “but research shows that to be productive and creative, you must make time for recreation and relaxation. Trying to skimp on them hurts your motivation and often leaks you to procrastinate.” So, take another stab at that list, maybe you can be more ruthless than you thought.
Try these tips to free up some needed time.
- Delegate what you can to your significant other or children. Your offspring need to learn responsibility as well as life skills. Give them the chores that they can accomplish with pride. When they do something well, they will likely want to complete the task again.
- Make house cleaning, car washing, and yard work a family affair. I once made a contest out of Saturday morning cleaning. Whoever got their room done the quickest got a prize. This is your baby; be creative.
- If you can afford outside help, then bring on the maid, lawn service, car wash, or personal assistant. You can make money repeatedly, but you can’t replace time.
Limit distractions from TV, phone, children, and friends while attending to detailed jobs like paying bills and making a grocery list.
- If you are among those special women who make lists and schedules and actually stick to them, (by the way I worship you), then you should be able to whip up a new one to create the leisure time you want.
- Learn to let things go a bit. Perfection isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. It only drives you and your family crazy.
- Keep a “to do” board up somewhere you can see it often. Don’t let this be an unmovable mountain that bogs you down; instead, use it for motivation purposes. Keeping on track is the goal, not making insufferable lists.
- If you have large projects that you dread, break them up into smaller, workable parts. It’s better than putting it off and likely never getting it done.
- Be accountable to yourself and family for things that you are supposed to be doing. Make them accountable to you, as well.
- Write short emails, letters, and texts.
- Plan your week up front. A Blackberry or Franklin planner can be your best friend…or your worst enemy.
- Whatever you do, make time for yourself. If you are tired, sick, or agitated then no one will be happy.
Photo by artistic feet.