At roughly the same time each day, a person in our office makes a familiar comment: I can't believe it's 3 p.m.! Where did the day go? While we know there are 24 hours in a day, time continually seems to evade us. There's always another task to do, a dangerously close deadline to meet, or a friend you've been meaning to see but just haven't found the time. Sound familiar?
If you're guilty of lamenting that there aren't enough hours in the day, life coach Susie Moore presses the need to reclaim your schedule. "Every time we say 'I don't have time,' it makes us feel weak and out of control," she writes in an article for Greatist. "We buy into the myth of the rush against the hourglass—the daily race we’re all losing to get it all done."
Follow these four simple steps to stop being busy and start being productive:
STEP 1: Question What Matters
Ask yourself: What truly makes you happy? It could be reading a quality book, losing yourself in a Netflix series, hitting the gym, or catching up with friends you haven't seen in years—whatever it is, prioritize that activity.
"Think about it: If you work eight hours per day and sleep eight hours per day, you have eight hours per day for everything else," says Moore. "Depending on your job, it could be a little less … But that's still plenty of time. These hours exist. Acknowledge them!"
STEP 2: Identify Blocks
It's time for serious self-reflection. "Be honest: Do you spend an hour or two scrolling through Facebook and Instagram every day?" writes Moore. "Are you spending time with people that you don't really like just to please them? Are there meetings you attend that you can politely decline?"
Critically review how you allocate your time, and try to eliminate any activities or habits that aren't essential. You might be surprised by the amount of time you reclaim.
STEP 3: Set an Agenda
Good intentions don't always lead to actions. "The solution: Put it on your calendar! This stuff doesn't just happen. You've got to schedule it," says Moore. Treat the activities that matter to you most—coffee with a friend, a yoga class, calling your mom—with the same sense of urgency and importance you would a work meeting.
STEP 4: Change Your Language
Stop making excuses and focusing on negativity. Instead, Moore recommends these positive alternatives that encourage you to accept you're in control of your time and decisions:
- "I choose not to start that project until next year."
- "I'd love to read that book—I'll get to it after my home renovations are complete!"
- "I'd love to party this weekend but have a work deadline I need to prioritize."
It might feel strange at first, but after a few days of prioritizing valuable tasks, setting an agenda, and changing your language, you'll start to notice a difference. "When you don't have a plan for your life, someone else will plan it for you. But it's your life. And your precious hours on planet Earth," says Moore. Make it count.
How do you manage the time you have? Share your tips with us!