As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to consider work as your hobby and completely forget about having a life. If you work from home, it’s even easier – you log onto your computer anytime there’s work to do and can easily neglect your “free” time. Or, maybe you’re even so busy you’ve forgotten what free time even is! I feel ya.
No matter how hard we try, most of us spend our days feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted. This is a problem for 2 reasons: It affects your happiness and it affects your growth. How can you run a successful business if you’re tired and stretched too thin? Even if you’re not at that point, preservation of your mental wellbeing is still important and time management is key to achieving the right amount of work-life balance.
So, let’s figure out how to get you some more time, shall we?
1. Figure out how much time you actually have
Yes, you say you have no free time. I believe you! But, try something for me....please? Write out everything you do in a week and how many hours you think you spend. For example:
Work – 40 hours (ha! Ya right…)
Chores (cooking meals, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.) – 12 hours
Gym – 5 hours
Friends – 8 hours
Personal care (showering, makeup, whatever!) – 3 hours
Now that you’ve written down everything you do in an average week, add it up. There’s 113 waking hours in a week (based on the average human who sleeps about 8 hours a night, so adjust accordingly). So, how many hours did you find? Were you surprised? Now you know what you’re working with and I bet you found you have a few hidden hours you didn’t know you had. Which leads me to the next point....
2. Schedule everything
This may seem daunting and tedious, but it’s effective and efficient. Use your Google Calendar, or your Reminders on your iPhone to ping you when it’s time to eat, stop to read, take a walk, a break, a bath – you name it. Schedule in your free time and your chores so you get stuff done when it needs to get done. Also, this helps you prioritize your free time as much as your work. A reminder to go get a snack is better than no reminder as you power through your afternoon and forget to eat....been there, done that!
Plus, who doesn’t love the added gratification when they look at their schedule and see what they’ve accomplished? High five!
3. Work smarter, not harder
Break down your average day or tasks you do in a week and beside each, label it with the following:
For example, a meeting would be work, writing may be work or leisure, seeing friends or talking on the phone is social, going for a walk is physical.
Sort everything into its category and notice where you may be lacking. Are you not getting enough reflection time to collect your thoughts and mull over your day? Is physical activity a priority to you and you’re not making time for it? This activity is great for realizing where you’re wearing yourself too thin. Now that you’re aware, you can do something to fix it. Remember YOLO!!!!!!
4. Make the most of your time
How can you be more efficient with the time you do have? A good time management hack is to pair things together in a smart way. And no, I don’t mean multitasking! Well, sort of – the good kind of multi-tasking! See where you spend time and where you’re lacking and trying to get the most bang for your buck by pairing things together that make sense.
For example, if you’re lacking physical time but heavy on social time, why not go to the gym with a friend or do an activity together? If you feel like you don’t get enough time to reflect, try turning off your music when you’re walking to meet a friend and just think about your day.
5. Wake up, plan your day
Some of the most successful people I know wake up every day and plan out their day. If that’s not for you, at least wake up, eat, and think about your day and what you need to achieve. This gives you time to write a to-do list, prioritize things, have a plan of action, and know where you have some extra time to spare.
A to-do list is your best friend, and it can help stop your mind racing with things to do. Once you get it out on paper, you’re more likely to achieve it! Also, you’ll be better equipped to delegate or ask for help before you get swamped if you take time in the morning to see how the day will go.
Time management is unique for everyone, and what works for some won’t work for others. The best tip I can give is to actually think about your time. Be present, aware and thoughtful when prepping. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, chances are there are some things you can do to regain control of your life.