“I just need a few more hours in my day.” “We don’t have time for that.” “My to-do list is never-ending.” Does this sound like something you’ve said a time or two (million)? In today’s world, time is a rare commodity. We focus so much on the “do more, achieve more” culture, and we end up cramming as many things into the day as possible and overwhelming ourselves. So while this may sound counterintuitive, what I’m proposing is that you DO LESS in order to achieve more. Since we all have the same number of hours in a day, you can give yourself the gift of time by using your hours more wisely so that you actually CAN achieve more, without the feeling of burnout.
Step 1: Eliminate.
The first step in our journey to giving ourselves back some time is a pretty obvious one. Eliminate unnecessary tasks in your schedule to open up more time for other things. We often get in a mindset that we are obligated to do certain things because it is expected of us or because it’s what we’ve always done. Take some time to review your calendar and really consider the value that you’re getting from each item on your calendar.
Do you really need to be the PTA president AND the classroom volunteer AND the soccer coach? Being involved in your children’s activities is great, but you can choose one thing that really interests you, and let the rest go. I promise, no one will think you’re a bad parent for not serving on ALL the committees.
If you work in a corporate or office environment, this one will likely speak to you. Eliminate meetings. Gasp! But how could we possibly eliminate the small-group meeting where we plan for what we’re going to talk about at the whole-group meeting about meeting protocols?! Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if the end goal can be accomplished through an email. If the answer is yes, congratulations, you just gave yourself back an hour of time! Same thing for conference calls. If it can be accomplished with an email, there’s no need for an hour long conference call that involves everyone in the company.
Step 2: Automate.
Sometimes, technology can be our friend. More than likely, there are plenty of tasks or items on your to-do list that can be automated and will save you lots of time. Here’s a list of ways you can automate to give yourself back some time:
- Set up all your bills for automatic online billpay. Not only are you eliminating time spent paying bills every month, but you’re also eliminating the late fees that come when you inevitably get distracted or forget to pay something on time.
- Use an app like IFTTT to set up automations between your web apps. You can set up a workflow based on conditional statements such as, “If I upload a photo to Instagram, download it to Dropbox.” Now your favorite photos are automatically saved to your favorite cloud storage app, without needing to spend extra time downloading them in several places.
- Another favorite automation hack is Amazon Subscribe & Save. You can get everyday essentials delivered right to your door, on a schedule that works for you and your family. Imagine never running out of toilet paper, or never needing to remember to add toothpaste to the grocery list. And, you can save up to 15% on essential household items! Here are a few things I use Subscribe & Save for:
- Toilet paper and paper towels
- Toothpaste, shampoo, razors and body wash
- Dog treats
- Laundry and dishwasher detergent
- Trash bags and other cleaning supplies
Step 3: Delegate.
Probably my favorite way to give myself back some time is to delegate tasks that I don’t absolutely need to do myself. Sometimes our self-importance can get in the way and we can convince ourselves that we have to do EVERYTHING on our own. Because really, who else could possibly pick out the bananas as the perfect ripeness? Which brings me to our first delegation hack: Instacart. Instacart tells me that I saved 86 hours in the last year by using their grocery delivery service. Do you know what I could do with an extra 86 hours in my year? Take a 2 week vacation! I’m already dreaming of all the places I could do with that extra time!
Hiring a housekeeper, outsourcing your lawn care or utilizing a virtual assistant are all other ways that you can delegate tasks to others and give yourself back some time. Yes, these things all cost money, so when considering what to delegate, consider the following: what will it cost you to delegate that task, and how much time will it save you? If it costs $100 per week to have a housekeeper come in, but it will save you 4 hours per week, then consider if your time is worth $25/hour. If the answer is yes, the that delegation is likely a good choice.
There are also other ways to delegate that won’t cost you money. Make sure everyone in your home is taking their fair share of the household chores. Your children may not fold clothes as nicely as you do, but if it saves you time that you could be spending together as a family, it might be worth it to let go of the crisp t-shirt folds in favor of a few wrinkles.
What will you do with the extra time that you’ve created? If incorporating a daily meditation practice is on your list, check out our resources on how to meditate.
Amber Kraus is the owner of Rise Marketing Solutions and a regular contributor to the Take 2 Minutes blog. She is an experienced copywriter and content strategist who has a passion for working with small businesses and non-profit organizations.