Does it seem like you never have enough time for your friends and family? Don’t despair – you’re certainly not alone. The world is full of obligations and distractions that, if we allow it, seem to take every available minute of our time.
However, there’s always a way if you’re willing to examine your life and make a few adjustments. You will most likely even have to make a sacrifice or two, but the most important people in your life are worth the sacrifice!
Here are some things to think about as you rearrange your schedule (and your priorities) to make time for those you care about.
Start by figuring out where you actually are spending all your time. Even though it may seem like a pain, for seven days, track every minute of your day. This is actually easier than you think. Every hour, on the hour, write down how you spent the last hour. A spreadsheet or a Twenty four hour planner is convenient for this, because it’s easy to add everything up at the end of the week.
If you are trying to come up with categories you may want to track ask yourself these questions: How much time do you spend on preparing meals and cleaning up afterwards? How much time do you spend driving? How much time do you spend sleeping? Are you watching television – if so, how much and with whom? How much screen time to you spend on your computer or smart phone – include social meeting, surfing the internet, texting, etc? How much time is spent on house and yard work? How many hours are you working on income producing activities? This is just a suggested list – customize it to fit your life.
Once you’ve completed your list of items, and tracked your activities for a week, analyze your data. Where are you spending the most time? Are you spending time on activities that are unnecessary or not really all that enjoyable? Are there times when you are just basically wasting time to avoid other tasks? These are difficult questions, but important for this exercise.
Now take a hard look at your list. Are there any areas where you could reduce the amount of time you spend on certain tasks? Give yourself a challenge to reduce at least one hour in each of your categories. If you have only the items on the suggested list above, by doing this you will have at least seven free hours in your week.
Don’t be too quick to say that you just can’t possibly free up an hour in each category. Consider your options. Are there things you can get other people to do? Could your kids do the yard work or could you hire a lawn service? Do you have a child or spouse that likes to help out in the kitchen? Is it possible to pay someone else to clean your home?
Look at the things you are doing outside of the job or outside of the home. Are these things you have to do, want to do, or just something that you’ve always done?
Once you know what you can let go and what you absolutely must do, make a schedule. When you make your schedule, put your priorities first. Instead of trying to fit your friends and family around your other obligations and activities, try doing the opposite whenever possible. (Now I totally get that you can’t always dictate your working hours, but you do have control over the majority of the rest of your time.) It’s a simple change of perspective that makes a huge difference. It will also let those you care about see how much you care when you put spending time with them first on your schedule.
It’s important to set boundaries for your time. Practice saying “no” to requests and offers. The world will steal every minute from you if you allow it. Your only real defense is using the word “no” more often. You don’t have to attend every party, wedding, or other social occasion. You don’t have to donate your time to anyone or anything if you don’t want to. Keep your schedule with your loved ones and make that your first priority.
One last suggestion, when you have to do a task, find the most efficient way to get it accomplished. Be mindful and stay focused, to make the most efficient use of your time. Make sure you are using the right tools and equipment to get things done. Invest in newer technology if it will free up your time while accomplishing what needs to be done.
Give these ideas a try and you may find that you have more time than you actually realize. Everyone has twenty-four hours in their day, yet it seems like some people have a lot more than others. If you are open to tracking and analyzing your days, then making the necessary adjustments to free up time, you will automatically find time for the people that are most important to you.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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