You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.
One of the most common reasons I hear for why people won’t invest in their health is …
Lack of time
I get that! When I had little children and babies I would get told by well meaning older ladies, “make sure you take time for yourself.” It actually made me mad because it was so frustrating to want to take their advice, but not know how to squeeze that in between everyone else’s needs. I’d think, “If you’d come and do dishes and run the vacuum I’d have time!”
I wish I’d known then what I know now. Those older ladies were spot on, but they didn’t share the skills to make their advice good. I’m not sure if they knew how to make time or not themselves.
How to make time
Did you know you CAN make time? The seconds that tick by are very objective, but how you live those seconds to make the most of them makes them stretch or shrink very subjectively.
“I can’t stretch or shrink time!”
Have you ever been on a car ride that took an hour and it felt like three hours? How about when you sit in a doctor’s waiting room? Or awaiting important test results? Time stretched out interminably. Or when you have coffee with a good friend and time shrinks to “fly by.” It is a subjective thing.
So, how can you “make time,” or make it stretch so you get things done AND take care of yourself?
One word: habits
Habits, routines, practices. Whatever you call what you do, it can be helping you, or making your life harder. Do you have practices that help you to be more organized, take care of yourself, and enable you to reach your goals? Or do you have the habit of being haphazard and achieving your list but you have to think about every thing you do?
Building healthy practices into your life helps you take better care of yourself and does a few things for your time.
- Self care gets done.
- When you take care of yourself, you feel better and tend to have more positive energy. You can take yourself seriously because you took your self seriously enough to care for it. These don’t have to be big things! A 10 minute morning routine and 10 minute evening routine will bookend the day miraculously. Stretch that to 20 minutes each time and wonders will happen in your life. More energy and a positive attitude equal more efficient and effective use of your time.
- You have more space in your brain for important stuff.
- The daily things can become routine, or they can be batch tasked so you think about them once and then they don’t have to clutter your mind. Decision fatigue is avoided when the one million small things are already lined out and you only have to really decide on the big things. For example, one young mother made a list of the 10 meals they usually eat. Then she arranged them into a schedule. She could then predict what she needed for groceries quite easily to nearly automate shopping. She has a routine. She doesn’t need to think about what’s for dinner. She can anticipate special events so her choices about meal size and spacing don’t get hijacked. To top it off, she subscribed to a grocery service at one of the big chain stores and can make a digital list through the week and send it in when she wants to get groceries. She doesn’t have to spend time thinking about the small stuff, leaving more time for the bigger decisions of life.
- Automation gives you flexibility
- Learning the skills of self care and turning them into habits and practices takes attention at first. Once you have the skills and routines to support your health automated, though, you will find that structure gives liberty. You have the ability to be more resilient and to bounce back because you know how to. When things get really hectic, you know how to pace yourself, how to take small breaks, how to support your body and mind so time doesn’t shrink in spite of the pace. Structure gives liberty.
Four ways to hack time
Now you’re saying, “You’re just like those older ladies, giving sound advice but not making it good and doable!”
Fair enough. Here are four habits you can use right now to hack your time:
- Meal plan
- Make a plan to succeed! Take 30 minutes on the weekend to plan meals for the next week, allowing for sports, school, late work, etc. You won’t have to wonder what’s for dinner and can actually get the meat out to thaw in the morning instead of a half hour before cooking it. To up the game more, when you get home from shopping, take an hour or so to prechop the veggies, grate the cheese, whatever you can do in advance for the week so that you just have to throw the food in the pan, crock pot, or oven and then do other things.
- If a week at a time seems like too much in your hectic life, can you plan the next day the night before? That’s a good start! And small steps add up to big movements over time.
- There are several apps that can help with this, and if you use paper, remember that you can recycle the menu week to week rather than make whole new ones each time.
- Use a timer
- Deadlines help most folks focus and get a job done. Make your phone work for you by setting the timer for tasks to help you focus your attention. I’m working on this blog for 15 minutes and then I can get another cup of coffee. We do “15 minute cleanup” in the house and everyone has to throw down for a limited time and then we’re done. Some folks use time blocking on their calendar to set boundaries and limits on their schedule in order to train their brain to focus and relax in timely and efficient blocks. Reminders on your phone can also help you stay grounded in time if you’re one of those people who get distracted and “lost in time.”
- Do you have 60 seconds while you’re waiting? Five minutes before the kids get in the car after school? Close your eyes and focus for those literal seconds on your breath going in and going out. Focus on a few calming words or a phrase in time to your breath. This allows your brain to step out of fight/flight mode and into a more relaxed operating mode. It allows you to flow through time instead of scrambling. Remember how time is subjective? You just made time.
- Batch task
- It doesn’t take much more to do a little extra while you’re doing something. And it’s like the Dominoes trick where you knock one over and the rest fall in a line. You set yourself up for the next thing. Can you chop the veggies for supper while you’re making the sandwiches for lunch and everything’s out? Can you put the ingredients for your breakfast together while you’re making dinner? I learned from my grandmother to tidy the kitchen while I cook so there’s not so much to clean up later. Meal planning is another way to batch task. What can you do in bulk?
You can have time to take care of your self and to get everyone else cared for and everything else that’s important done. We always seem to be able to make time and money for what’s important. You can make time with just a few simple steps that will help you to take better are of yourself and to have the time to do it! Healthy habits help you to hack time.
There are many more ways to hack time. You can do it by learning skills and habits of self care that support you and your life. A little investment will pay out dividends later. Apply to join the next round of the Abundant Living Course to learn the skills and habits with a group of like minded folks (which further hacks the learning curve to make your skill development more effective and efficient). Get an interview scheduled today to start upleveling your habits so you can hack time!