Inspired by one of my clients, I had decided upon my personal challenge: until midsummer I will have 50 conversations with women about what is blocking them to design their lives they way they want to (you can read the whole story here). I was really excited about what I would discover, and even more so after the first conversations!
Yet it is one thing to decide to talk to 50 women and to declare this a priority, it is another thing to carve out in the flesh 50+ additional hours in a couple of weeks…
I have a ritual during the weekend: I pour myself a cup of tea and do two things: I finish answering all left-over emails (I swear they mate behind my back) and I sit down to look at my appointments and to plan the following week.
Sometimes this is all smooth and streamlined: clients, writing, studying, personal and professional appointments, me-time, time for the children etc. all flow into an organic form with enough space for what is important for me. All very elegant. Sometimes.
As you can guess, not so this time. I’m a tactile learner, I have to write down everything on paper. When I was finished scribbling, it looked as if a flock of hen with dirty feet had been chasing each other on the pages of my agenda…
More importantly: I had done my utmost, or so I thought, to free up time for these conversations. And now most appointments had filled up already AND emails keep coming in from ladies who tell me that they would love to participate but were there other time slots available?
So, what’s a girl to do? How could I find more time? (BTW, how on earth do you “find” time? It’s as stupid an expression as to “lose” weigh! But I digress.) As I was staring at my agenda, Hmming and frowning and pushing appointments from right to left, I suddenly heard this voice in my head: “If you really want something, you’ll find a way, and if you don’t really want something, you’ll find an excuse.”
I realised that I had to shift my attitude from “But I’m really trying my best here” to “I mean business”. I put on my thinking cap, took a good dose of my own medicine, so to speak and I combed through my agenda. One hour later I had carved out an additional 25 (yep, twenty-five!) hours.
Here are my tips to find more time in your day:
1.) Cultivate saying No. Hands down THE most elegant habit you can possibly cultivate and the Number One thing to do if you are stressed for time. I’m a recovering people pleaser and learning how to say No has turned my entire life around. If you can relate, hit reply to this mail. I know this one. I can help you here.
2.) Batch. Birds of a feather fly together and grouping actions of the same kind kindles efficiency. If you are the kind of butterfly who loves to nip here and there (“I’ll do ten minutes emails and then I’ll make a phone call and then I’ll clear out a kitchen drawer and then…”), think twice: this kind of fluttering around will potentially double the time to get things done. Consequently the more I’m batching similar activities (coaching conversations, writing, running errands) the more I’m surprised how much time I’ve suddenly got…
3.) Eat your frogs first thing in the morning. Your ‘frog’, according to Brian Tracy, is “your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.” I bet something just popped up in your mind. That’s the one! Brian Tracy has to simple rules for ‘frog-eating’: 1.) If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. 2.) If you have to eat a frog anyway, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long. Bon appétit.
4.) Decide how long something is going to take. There’s a decisive difference between writing in your agenda “Finish project xyz” or “Finish project xyz until tonight”. Because a task will meander and expand to fill out all the time available if you don’t decide how much space and time you want to give it. Often we don’t believe that we can really decide how long a task will take, but when you do, you’ll open the door to inspired action!
5.) Decrease industrious procrastination. When it comes to industrious procrastination, I plead guilty! Most people associate ‘procrastination’ with Netflix or Candy Crush, but industrious procrastination is not spotted that easily as it’s disguising itself as useful action. There’s always something to do in the house or in the garden or something to read or to study or to cook or someone to call…
6.) Set the stage and dress the part. I’ve lost count of the people who did not believe in the beginning how important their surroundings and their appearance is for their productivity and their creativity, just gave it a go to humour me, only to have jaw-dropping results!
To upgrade your workplace means that you will upgrade the results you’ll have while working in that space . To dress up even if nobody but your screen or your toddler sees you all day means that you’ll upgrade the way you think about yourself which is the first step towards everything you want to achieve.
7.) Plan for proper meal times. People always seem surprised when they wander around mid-day in Paris and see all the cafés, brasseries and restaurant packed with patrons who enjoy a proper three course meal, a glass of wine and an animated conversation. Elegant success calls for elegant fuel, see?
8.) Be disciplined in the evening. The evenings are the most important time to give the right direction for your life, because they determine how you start your day. ‘Fail to prepare and be prepared to fail’ is never truer than in the evening. It’ll impact your sleep (see 9.), which will impact how you wake up and then your day and your week and your life! If you’re a night owl, this might come natural to you. I’m an early morning person, so it takes real discipline to get my act together in the evening. But I do it because the ROI is just too good.
9.) Get enough rest. I remember a very demanding training I once was part of. We started at 6 am and finished at 10 pm. But there was a pause for breakfast, for mid morning, noon, afternoon and dinner, because, as our teacher put it drily ‘If you are well rested, I can work you harder’.
Which of these tips speaks the most to you? Try it out and let me know how it goes!
Wishing you enough time for all that you want to do this week,
PS: For those of you who wrote to me with questions about these 50 conversations: this is the link to all the sessions. Yes, they are absolutely free and yes, you are very welcome to share this with your friends! This is what the first ladies I talked with had to say about the experience: “I’m deeply grateful”, “I’m full of excited joy”, “I’m overwhelmed (in a good sense).”
So do take advantage of these additional sessions! I can’t wait to talk to you!