Want a Few More Hours in the Day?

How many times have you thought, “If only I had a few more hours in the day, I could get all this work done.”? I hear you. As I think about all the competing responsibilities vying for my time and attention, I have a hard time figuring out how to fit it all in.

So, what if we refused to fit it all in? What if we simply crossed a few things off the list?

I know this sounds radical, but stay with me for a moment. Imagine an alternative to your current stressed-out, guilt-ridden state of being. What if you made two lists–the things you must do to keep you and your family breathing, and the things you’ve committed to do (for one reason or another)?

You must eat. You must sleep. If you have children, you must make sure they’re cared for (you may be able to get help in this endeavor).  After that, you have choices. Granted, actions have consequences, and not fulfilling every promise on your to-do list means someone will be disappointed, but you do have choices.

I’m reading a book called The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. It’s one of those books that helps refocus people on what’s most important. Her whole message is about connecting with your core desires and setting goals based on how you want to feel rather than what you think you should accomplish.

As an entrepreneur, I’m an ambitious, goal-oriented person, and I sometimes forget to come up for air long enough to remember why I started my business in the first place–to set an example for my sons (to demonstrate that we should all go after our dreams and do what we love), for the freedom to participate in life on my own terms (not having to ask for a boss’s permission to put my family first, to go on that field trip or attend that track meet), and for the chance at bigger financial rewards.

I love to work, but I don’t love to have too much to do. The idea of letting someone down or failing according to my own high standards makes my gut clench and my heart constrict. Since “time management” is a misnomer (we can’t actually manage time), we need to manage how we use each precious minute.

Here are some of the ways to get more hours in the day that work for me.

  1. Remove distractions. In this plugged-in world, devices are constantly dinging, buzzing, and flashing at us. Turn them off.
  2. Prioritize your to-dos. Be as realistic as you can. Figure out what you can realistically accomplish in the time you have available. If you promised to finish a report by the end of the day, but you know it will be total crap if you do, call your boss or your client and let them know you need more time to provide the quality you feel compelled to provide. Then give them a deadline you know you can meet. If they say, “I want whatever you can provide today.” Provide it. Most people would rather have quality. Repeat this process until your day is manageable.
  3. Use the Pomodoro Technique. With pomodoros, you alternate short sprints with regular breaks. The sprints help you remain productive; the breaks bolster your motivation and keep you creative.
  4. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Invest in your relationships. Attend to your personal growth/spiritual needs. It always amazes me when people schedule oil changes every 5,000 miles and full check-ups for their cars every 30,000 miles because they recognize the importance of regular maintenance, but they don’t do the same for their bodies and souls. If you don’t take care of yourself, your productivity will suffer. I promise.

Some days you have to push through, work late and forego the healthy balance. But if this is your norm rather than the exception, something needs to change. Take some time to assess how much of your life feels good (however you define that) and how much feels out of sync, frustrating, stressful, or depressing. Small steps can lead to big change. You may not be able to quit your job or attain your ideal weight by next week, but you can start rolling that snowball down the hill today.

If part of what’s keeping you too busy is the work required to promote your business and you’d like help, let me know.