I’m a bit of a busy body that hates being busy. I like having things to focus on, I just hate having things to do. I quickly become overwhelmed and it can be hard for me to stay on track because I think about all the things I need to do vs. all the things I want to do. It feels like there’s not enough time in the day to do everything, so I wind up not doing anything at all.
It really makes me long for the good old days. The days when you didn’t have a build up of time clutter that keeps your focus away from things you find meaningful. The days when sitting and reading a book was as productive as you needed to be. Not to say I wouldn’t get bored sometimes without my smartphone, but it’d be nice to have the option to have a simplified version of modern day life.
That’s what I’ve been working on this year: finding some free time. Standardizing the things I need to do so I have more time to pursue the things I want to do.
HOW TO GET MORE FREE TIME (WHEN IT FEELS LIKE YOU HAVE NONE)
TRACK EVERYTHING YOU DO IN A DAY
This is a really good way to get an understanding of how you really spend your time.
At the end of each day, make a list of what you did.
Evaluate what essential and what is a waste of time.
Add the essentials to a to-do list and make a point to avoid the time wasters.
Do this everyday until you are satisfied with how you’re spending your time.
When you take a look of what fills your day, you may discover that you have more time than you thought. Studies show that the average person will spend 13 years watching TV and browsing social media. Imagine if you spent all that time working on a craft or passion. Your time is precious, so do something great with it.
SET SOME ROUTINES
For the longest time, I always claimed to be “too irresponsible” for routines. Even starting my routines was a bit accidental, but they are the number one thing that help me to not only standardize the things that need to get done, but automate them. I added things that need to get done to my morning routine so by the time I really start my day, all the tedious stuff is out of the way. My laundry is started, my bed is made, my dishwasher is clear, etc. Even though I’m technically doing more because of my routines, the things I’m doing need to be done and now they are not standing the way of the things I want to do. So round up all the tedious, necessary tasks and add them to a routine. You’ll find that your time will be spent stressing less about what you need to do and enjoying more of what you want to do.
START TIME BLOCKING
Time blocking is where you dedicate a specific time or part of the day to a certain type of task. Take writing this post for example. I know that around 3pm, Oliver will take a nap; so I dedicated that time to drinking coffee and writing a blog posts. I’ve time blocked my mornings to be house work and my nights to be relaxed time. If you want to really get into time blocking, when you’re writing out what you do in a day, color code each type of task. Then, for the next day, put similar colors near each other so they can all be done in one sequence. This way you can move cohesively through your day and ultimately get more things done, faster.
DO THE LITTLE THINGS RIGHT AWAY
Putting your glass in the dishwasher, unsubscribing from email lists, taking your shoes off in the entry instead of the middle of the living room. The little things that are like annoying little bug bites on our time, but when we put them off they transform into giant shark bites. Those little things used to get the best of me. They were the things that I would put off until I couldn’t stand the build up and I’d have to spend hours on a task all at once that would’ve taken me 30 seconds to do in the first place. If it’s going to take 2 minutes or less, just do it now. Your future-self will thank you.
GET RID OF PHYSICAL CLUTTER
Minimalism was my first step in taking control of my time and happiness. I used to be very overwhelmed by the idea of maintaining my stuff. Finally I realized the stuff was not worth my time. Putting the stuff away, the upkeep, the organizing. It took away from the things that were truly important to me, so I let it go. If nothing else, minimalism taught me to question each item I owned. I learned to ask, “Is it useful? Does it bring me joy? Or is it wasting my time?” I still have stuff, but none of it steals my time.
TURN OFF YOUR NOTIFICATIONS
Turn off instagram, facebook, whatever notifications that pop up on your home screen. When your phone is constantly buzzing, it takes you out of the moment you’re in. For anyone who is afraid of missing out on something important, I have to ask: how many urgent notifications do you get in a day? In my experience, it’s usually someone liking a picture or posting something half witted. Don’t give into the social media madness. Check your phone when you have downtime, but leave the notifications for the important things.
DON’T STRESS VARIETY
It’s okay to wear the same thing two days in a row, it’s okay to eat the same thing for every meal. When you find something you like, don’t feel obligated to change it. If you have a favorite shirt, wear it all the time. Meal planning? Make that toast you’ve been loving for every meal. Not only is it easy, but it adds excitement to your day because you know you’re going to get something you enjoy. If something starts feeling monotonous, find a new favorite to enjoy for a while.
FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME
I understand the feeling of not having enough time. That feeling that if it doesn’t happen right now, it never will. The harm in this way of thinking is we feel pressure to take on so many things that we never get anything done. When you take a step back and focus on one thing at a time, you are able to give it the attention it needs to create an outcome you can be proud of. Take right now for example: I would love to upgrade pieces in my home AND my closet. Taking on both is not only expensive, but it’s a lot of styling to figure out all at once. So I picked one, the closet. I made a master list of everything I need/want and I’m focusing on one piece at a time. When I’ve completed my closet, I’ll move onto my home which will then happen one room at a time. Maybe even one part of one room at a time. It may take some time to get to the end result, but I’ll wind up having exactly what I want rather than sort of, kind of what I want quickly.
DON’T TRY TO BE SOMEONE YOU’RE NOT
It’s so easy to work towards a goal just because you feel like you’re suppose to. For me, it was working out. I really felt like working out was something I had to do because that’s what a responsible, healthy person does. I really had to take a step back and think about why I felt this way. Was it really something that was valuable to me? Did it bring me joy? Was the stress that working out brought to my life worth the outcome? For me, no it was not. Instead, I found more “me” ways to improve my health that didn’t include apprehension. So really think about why you’re doing the things you don’t love to do. You may find that you don’t really need to do them at all.
Let me know some ways you’ve found more free time in the comments!
Photo by Almost Makes Perfect