One woman recently asked me, “How do you go to work all day, attend several meetings, then come home and make dinner and tomorrow’s lunch and go to bed early enough to get enough sleep so that you can do it all over again tomorrow? Is there a way to get all of this done – oh, and find time for exercise and meditation as well?” Here are five tips I use to create more time in my day while being bombarded with demands.
1) Just say No
The key to creating more time is to start saying “no” to requests and obligations that you don’t want to fulfill. It’s kind of like cleaning out your closet. At first, you think everything is necessary. But once you begin getting rid of hangers from the dry cleaners and creating more space, you gain momentum. By the time you’re done, it feels great!
I had one client who felt like she “should” be on the board of this nonprofit. But she was dreading the meetings and exhausted from her job and commute; she started to feel resentful of the commitment. She resigned from the Board and immediately felt a huge weight lift off her chest.
TIP: Think of ONE thing that you want to say no to right now and Just Say No. HINT: If you hear yourself saying “I should” or you start feeling resentful about a commitment, that’s a sign to let go.
For example, I have a holiday party that I’m going to just say no to, and stay home to take a bath and read a book instead.
2) Give Yourself Permission
Many of us want to say no to something but then we feel guilty. We think it’s selfish, or we’re scared someone will be mad or disappointed with us. What’s better: showing up and feeling resentful – not really enjoying the activity – or, being honest and taking care of your needs and feeling happier? One of my favorite quick tips to deal with this guilt is to write a permission slip. Similar to the permission slips children get at school, I will literally take out a piece of paper and write “I give Vanessa permission to take care of herself by skipping this holiday party and staying home in a bubble bath instead.” You’ll be surprised how much better you feel once you give yourself permission.
TIP: Get out a Post-it note or small piece of paper right now, and write yourself a permission slip. Put it in your wallet and read it whenever you’re feeling guilty about your choice.
3) Stop Keeping Up With The Jones’
In addition to saying No to other people’s requests, say no to society’s demands. One of the keys to creating more time and relaxation in your life is to stop piling unnecessary things on your own plate. We are in a culture of overwhelm, over-commitment, and over-scheduling. In the midst of this madness, it’s scary and difficult to keep your own schedule simple and paired down. Do you have a need to constantly be in motion, getting things done? See if you can start to slow down and notice the ways that you are creating work for yourself. Maybe you don’t need to drive all the way across town to attend that meeting or event. What can you let go of and simplify in your life? Meditation is a great tool for quieting the mind, here is a free 30 day challenge for beginners that only takes five minutes a day.
4) Get Clear On Your Must Haves
Many people ask me how they can “do it all.” Here’s the deal: We can do it all, but we need to redefine what “doing it all” really means. And this starts with getting clear on your values and making choices aligned with those values. Here is a free Values Assessment Tool that can help you get started.
You need to get really clear on what your Must Haves are. What do you absolutely HAVE to have in your life? What brings you the MOST JOY? For me, exercise is a must have, I feel so great when I move my body and I get really cranky when I don’t. While I really love home cooked meals, I don’t enjoy making them during the week and so I’ve decided that is not a must have for me. Another client of mine is a senior manager at Google. She wanted to spend more time with her two toddlers and travel less. She decided to rely more on her team, simplified her schedule and now takes her daughter to Mommy and Me classes once a week.
TIP: Find your Must Haves and make those a priority.
5) Ride The See Saw
Balance is like a see saw, even when we find it, it is easy to lose it again. The important part is to not get so out of whack that one end of the see saw slams into the ground. Some days you might feel that you did a really great job at work and you led meetings with confidence and efficiency, other days you may cook a delicious healthy meal or find time to exercise. It’s ok if you don’t do everything every day, the key is to appreciate what you’re doing each day and find the right balance over time.
TIP: Are you really out of balance in any one area of your life right now? If so, address that area first. Adjust before the seesaw slams you into the ground