You don’t have to be time poor. Take these steps now to start 2020 rich in time, poor in stress and exhaustion.
Time affluence, the feeling that you have enough time to do what you need and want to do, is too rare for most professionals. Instead, they are bogged down by time poverty, where they’re stressed, rushed, overworked, and constantly trying to catch up. Increasing your time affluence takes effort, but doing so will give you a powerful edge in business and life.
- Map out your life. Keep a record of the hours you dedicate to various activities during an average week. This includes personal tasks such as paying bills, cleaning, and running errands, as well as leisure activities such as watching television. Consider what pleasure and measurable value you get from these efforts. Eliminating some of these can free your time for more meaningful activities. For instance, you can grocery shop online or limit your TV watching to 30 minutes a day.
- Hold up an “integrity mirror.” List all of your most valued activities, such as exercising or spending time with family. Make an effort to prioritize these.
- Optimize passive leisure activities such as watching TV, working on a jigsaw puzzle, or reading a mystery novel. Make sure these are bringing you pleasure and relaxation and not just serving as a mindless energy drain and time-waster. If you’re not truly gaining something from these activities, make a conscious effort to eliminate them or reduce the time you spend on them. Consider combining these with more productive pursuits. For example, exercise while you watch TV.
- Make time-rich purchases. Instead of a new outfit or decorative item, consider investments that give you the joy of time. For instance, hire a housecleaning service, personal shopper, or dog walker; or sign up for a prepared meal delivery program. When considering large purchases, such as installation of a swimming pool, weigh the pleasure you’ll get from them with the time and attention they will require. It’s easy to imagine, for example, the fun parties and cookouts you’ll have around the pool; but you also need to think about the time it will take to keep it clean and maintain it. Also, be realistic about how often you actually will use a pool, ride a motorcycle, or go to a country cabin.
- Stop procrastinating. This is a hard one, but it’s important if you want to be time affluent. Start by setting goals and schedules for your day and sticking to them.
- Learn to say “no.” Don’t be so eager to advance or please others that you bite off more than you can chew. If you don’t have time for favors or added tasks, say so. You can be polite and explain why you don’t have time. Honor firm boundaries.
Start slow, and know that every little bit helps. For instance, get up 15-30 minutes earlier every day to do something that energizes you or renews your spirit. Take time for little things like petting the cat, reading a favorite blog, or doing some breathing exercises. By the end of 2020, you could be time affluent and wondering why you didn’t get there sooner.