Making time to do the things you love, requires having time. I realize I and others keep on telling you to make time for the things you love and need to do. Trust me, we are just as aware as you that you don’t have all the time in the world. Personally, it is easy for me to feel like I am drowning in things I need and want to do, so learning how to structure my time wisely is essential for my survival; I bet your life is no different. By now you also know that I don’t just do survival, I believe you and I deserve to thrive, so here are some things to consider when making “better” time for yourself.
A theory of relativity:
Often when we consider what we want to do with our time, we look at things from an absolute perspective. We say: “I have to go to work. I have to get the laundry done. I have to return those calls. I have to make it to the gym.” Then we try to cram all those things into our day. Each one of them is considered in isolation, a block of time to be allocated. What we often fail to consider is what we are giving up in order to fit these blocks in.
There is what we have to do and what we want to do, hopefully there is some overlap in these categories, but more often than not, they compete with one another. That feeling of being overwhelmed comes from that competition, and since we can’t just run around doing what we want to the exclusion of what needs to be done, here is another way of thinking about your choices. When creating your schedule or considering how you’re going to spend your time, don’t just ask yourself what you have to do, ask yourself what you’ll be giving up to get those things done.
Lessons from the therapy room
Last week in session a patient and I were discussing how overwhelmed he felt. My patient explained how work, a house project and dealing with city/building official had taken over his life; he felt hopeless and out of control. He talked about all the things he had to get done, and how stressed and depressed he was feeling in this process. Some of the things he was talking about needed to be addressed. Honestly, however, other tasks were “shoulds”; things he could get done, would need to get done at some point in time, but didn’t have to get done immediately, except fort the nagging voice in his head that said he “should” be working on them NOW! My question to him was simple, “In order to do those things, what are you giving up? What is the cost of allocating your time to those activities?”
We stopped looking at what he had to do from an absolute perspective, and started examining it from a relative one. We talked about what he wanted to do with his time (for pleasure, work, health), and what wasn’t getting done, what wasn’t being given any time. Together we then considered the true cost of his choices. Was it really worth it to give up his weekly chats with his daughter to meet with another city inspector for a project that wasn’t immediately necessary? Was it worth giving-up evening walks because he was so exhausted from the joint demands of work and this house project? The answer was simple and resulted in restructuring his schedule, and a de-prioritization of some tasks to the benefit of other activities. With these changes I could guarantee that he would remain busy as hell, but the feelings of hopelessness and being overwhelmed would disappear. I spoke with him again this week, and that all proved to be true.
What are you giving up?
When you schedule something into your day, do you consider what you are giving up to do that thing? Do you know the cost of your choices? You saw the picture of my week’s schedule. You’ll see there is A LOT of time spent doing work. I work because I have to, because honestly I want to, but I also understand that the cost of not making time for work is stress, lots of it; so I prioritize and structure the work I do. However, you might notice that I cut into that work with training sessions, because all work, no play makes Alessandra a sad coach. The training cuts into my productivity in some ways, but it makes me a happier, healthier person. On Friday my schedule is relatively open, although I could/should be doing work. I made those adjustments because I am throwing a party this weekend and need time to prep. Otherwise, I will be that frazzled, nagging, and to-be-avoided wife on Saturday as I try to get everything ready for the 25+ people who are coming over. All these choices are made considering the relative cost and benefit of how I spend my time. It takes a bit more time, but the payoff of this relative approach is priceless in terms of fulfillment, real wealth and balance.
Make the best choices for you, understand what you value most. Get your free copy of the FOCUS MAP to identify you wants and needs. It’s time to finally focus on what’s right for you.
Challenge #3 – Mind your Time!
The Best Summer Ever is at your finger tips, really, it is. By now you understand that feeling overwhelmed is not okay. You’ve taken the step of doing nothing two to five minutes at a time. You’ve started trying to fit in the things you really want to do. Now let’s start figuring out how to become the true master of your time and your schedule, so that you are not just slipping in want-tos, but actually building them into your day without feeling overwhelmed.
This week use a calendar, spreadsheet, note, voice memo (anything that works for you really) to keep track of how you are filling your time. What are some of the things you are giving up to fit in the activities you are currently prioritizing? How are you spending your time? How are you potentially wasting your time?** This insight is the first step to real change, if you’re not really aware of what you are prioritizing, then you can’t make changes if they are needed.
Join the “Best Summer Ever” challenge today and make changes that are right for you in just 4 weeks!
And let us know how you are doing, by posting your thoughts and progress on facebook or twitter using the hashtag #thrivinghumans
** e.g. When I did this exercise I noticed how much time I wasted by having my email and FB permanently open in my browser. Now I have set aside 15-30 minute time slots to check and update both, and freed that time to work, and train!