Do you roll your eyes when you hear someone say, “We all have the same number of hours in the day as Beyoncé?” It makes me want to scream when I hear that. Nothing against Queen Bey, because who doesn’t love her, but come on. Come on.
This is what a typical day looked like for me pre-Following My Spark:
On any given day, I would hit the snooze button three to five times (a total no-no; see my article on this enemy) and mentally go from looking cute at work with straightened hair to yep, messy bun, again. All because I stayed in bed longer since I was up late the night before to spend time with my husband. Notice I didn’t say that I slept in bed longer; I stayed in bed longer. We all know the five minutes between the snooze button intervals are not quality sleep…or quality anything for that matter. My day as a high school counselor would likely fly by in a blur of counseling students about their lunch periods, college choices, and sadly, sometimes abuse. I pick up my kiddos from daycare and get them home around 5:30, followed by quickly throwing together dinner, helping my son with his homework, and bath time. Not to mention my two-year-old daughter Julia’s three tantrums because I wouldn’t let her drink my coffee, wouldn’t put Toy Story on the tv, and wouldn’t let her run around the house with a pencil in her mouth. And don’t forget laundry and dishes. There are always laundry and dishes to do. The kids would likely be in bed by 8:30, at which point I would maybe eat and watch “The Bachelor” with my husband until 10:30 or when I fell asleep, whichever came first. Rinse and repeat.
Sigh. At what point did I mention doing anything positive for myself? Something that excites me and has nothing to do with my spouse or children? Nada. Zilch. Zip. Look at the above paragraph again. How did it sound? It sounded frantic, right? Frenzied and as if I were on the brink of exhaustion? Check, check, and check.
Do you identify with this? We’re told to follow our dreams and that we can do anything, but friend, I get it. I GET IT. It’s overwhelming and tiring to think about doing One. More. Thing. I know Beyoncé has children, and I have no doubt they have tantrums, too, but what can us mere mortals do? Stick with me. I promise this has a happy ending.
Here’s the thing – we’re gonna have to be our own happy endings. No matter how much our loved ones care about us, it’s not their responsibility to make sure we are fulfilled and happy. That’s on us, which means we will have to take control of our lives and manage our time better. Because that’s really what it comes down to; we can’t create more hours of the day, but maybe we can learn how to maximize the ones we have.
All the clichés about time are true. Time is a commodity; we never know when ours will run out. Time is not guaranteed. Time is finite. We tend to rationalize certain behaviors by saying “I will start again Monday,” but we can’t take Mondays for granted because we don’t know how many we will have. Time is currency. Time is valuable. We are trading our time on this earth to be with our children, partners, work at jobs that bring us joy or don’t, and for… for what? Countless minutiae that squanders our days?
If you really look at your day, you are likely giving up an hour for mindless, meaningless actions that don’t add value to your life. Perhaps that means too much time on your phone scrolling through social media, numbing your brain to “The Bachelor”, or eating pizza… again. Here’s the thing: We need guilty pleasures. I cannot operate successfully by having every day planned by 15-minute intervals. That’s not living either.
But something must give. There must be an in-between. We can’t keep taking life for granted. No one is going to give us more time, and get ready for another cliché, time is flying by. It seems that, in the last few years, people are in a competition to prove how busy they are, as if “busy” equals valuable. Perhaps social media contributes to this because people constantly post about their kid’s recitals and sports, their migraines, and what they are having for dinner; again, the minutiae.
There are no awards for who’s busiest, though. If you see through the smoke and mirrors, some use their busy schedules as excuses. I have too much to do so I can’t read a book about personal growth. I have to take Charlie to practice every day so I can’t exercise when I get home from work. I have to grocery shop, then make dinner, then put the kids to bed; I don’t have time. Guess what, friend? We all do. If it’s not those exact examples, it’s something. We all have something distracting us from our goals.
So, we have two choices: Are we going to allow ourselves to remain in a rut (there’s a different between being stuck and in a rut; you’re not stuck) or take control and reflect on how we can prioritize our time?
Read on for ways to maximize your time:
Habits: Your Guiding Light – We all feel like we don’t have enough time for ourselves, let alone to conquer a new goal. The easiest way to make progress toward a goal without it feeling tedious and overwhelming, is to make the step a habit. We know that consistency is what creates success. But what creates consistency? That’s right: Habits.
In Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, he outlines the three components of a habit: cue, routine, and reward. In my FREE guide “How to Create More Time” (link at the end of the article), I will teach you how to incorporate these steps and give you three examples of how I use them.
Accept help – I know that accepting help sounds obvious, but so many of us don’t do it or do it with resistance. What is up with us? Why do we do this? We must decide: Are we going to be martyrs or goal slayers? Then accept help! If a friend offers to take your child on a playdate while the other naps so you can get work done, accept it! If your mother-in-law offers to babysit the kids so can get your hair done, sleep, see your girls, or again, get work done, accept it! If you significant other/neighbor/colleague offers help, yep, accept it!
If you are afraid of giving up control because whoever is helping might not do something as well as you/like you do/as fast as you, then… well, read that sentence again. Really? You are going to let laundry get in the way of progress? Hmm, that might be worthy of a That’s on you, friend.
Ask for help – Let’s be specific about this. When I say ask for help, I mean be direct. Don’t hem and haw around the issue and hope that your partner/parent/sibling picks up on your plea for help through coded wording. No one wins an award for asking for the least amount of help. Leave whatever qualms you have at the door (ego, upbringing) because you must. Again, if you are serious about prioritizing yourself, these steps are gonna have to be treated as givens.
When you ask for help, then, the request needs to be specific in nature and in its timeframe. Example situation:
Bad – (to partner) Do you think you could help me sometime this week with the kids so I can work on the new project I’ve been talking about?
Bottom line: This wording will not produce the desired result because you aren’t being specific enough. What kind of help with the kids? What’s involved for your partner? When this week? Is there a certain day?
Better – (to partner) Can you please handle dinner with the kids and put them to bed on Tuesday and Thursday so I can work on the new project I’ve been talking about?
Bottom line: Much better. Partner knows exactly what (dinner, bedtime routine) is expected and when (Tuesday, Thursday).
You have the basic information, but now you need to take it a step further. This article won’t be affective unless you act. Click below to receive my FREE guide “How to Create More Time” to help you reflect on how you spend your time and create habits to maximize it!
Did today’s topic resonate? Do you need help with time management? Do you feel like you don’t have enough time? Comment below!
Don’t forget to subscribe to the “Follow Your Spark” blog to automatically learn about new postings!
As always, thank you for reading!