One of the most frequently commented things that people feed back to me about the blog, in person and in the comments box, is that they don’t know how I do it and have a full time job. The majority go on to say that they can’t manage to fit in anything after they collapse in from work and mention seeing friends or putting time aside for exercise or a hobby they have always wanted to do.
Of course the simple response to this is that a lot of the time I barely manage and this is certainly not a ‘having it all’ wonder woman scenario behind the scenes. Like all bloggers, you see and hear about the best most interesting bits that I think you will enjoy, rather than the mundane daily grind. However, I do think I get a lot done and as I know most people want to find that elusive extra hour in the day, here’s how you can.
Several years ago I felt like I never had time to do anything and it was really stressing me out. Then for the first time in my life, I ventured in to the self help section of a bookstore in Arizona and bought Time Management from the Inside Out. I’d highly recommend making a purchase and reading it fully but here are the ideas that I picked up from it and think are worthwhile considering when it comes to managing your time.
The first thing to do is a time sheet of sorts. Basically you make a spreadsheet with the days of the week across the top and then divide the day into time down the left hand column (15 minute blocks from your wake up time to your bedtime). Each day you track what it is you are spending your time on. During work that might be emails, gossiping, meetings, eating, travelling to and from work, and at home it might be cooking, exercising, shopping, watching TV, going out for dinner etc. You have to be brutally honest but it is incredibly illuminating – a bit like tracking everything you eat for a week there are lots of things that if you commit them to paper, you will be surprised at how much time you spend on them. When I did this, I realised I was spending hours each night watching TV and that lead to me turning off the TV and claiming those hours back as my own.
Next you need to work out how you want to spend your time. There are obviously unavoidable time drains like work, but once you’re home there are a few hours before bed you can claim back and make work for you. After you do weekend chores there is more free time for you to use as you see fit. What do you want to do with your free time? Do you want to learn a language? Take a dance class? Get the garden organised? Plan a holiday or make time for date night? This is about balancing the ‘need to do’ chores with the ‘want to do’ fun we all need.
Next, look at how much time you need for these activities. Make sure you’re being realistic – Wanting to learn a new skill might not be feasible if it involves 3 hours of night school every evening and you can’t fit anything else in. Can you be more efficient with the way you organise these tasks? For example if the dance class you want to go to is quite far away and will take you sometime to get to (which is making you feel like it might be too much trouble…) can you combine it with the weekly food shop on the way to save a second journey? Is checking your email constantly getting in the way of you completing tasks at work?
Lastly, make life easy for yourself. If you’re always running late in the morning because you can’t find things, get organised and find them a home. (I always put my keys in the same place when I come in and as a result I never lose them and run around trying to find them.) never go to the gym because you don’t want to go out again after coming in from work to get your kit? Keep it in the car! Are you spending time cooking in the evening that you want to spend on other things? Try making twice as much when you do cook and freezing half to defrost and reheat quickly on another night. One of the biggest revelations of my life was getting a cleaner in the old house (we don’t have one at the moment.) At the time I was spending a lot of time blogging which meant Pete and I either argued about who’s turn it was to clean and that I didn’t have time, or he got fed up doing it all himself. If we did do it together, it ate into the precious time we wanted to spend together. £20 a week for the cleaner gave us about 6 hours back in time (we would previously have spent 2-3 hours cleaning together on a Saturday morning,) and was worth even more in terms of quality of life.
So readers, are you always looking for an extra hour in the day? Have you ever overhauled your time management and have you got any tips to share, or will you be trying any of these?
PS One last thought… the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. 😉