I’ve had a lot of things on the go lately. I’m working on an art project, teaching photography and Photoshop, taking on freelance photography work, and running and managing my own retouching company. At the same time, one of the biggest mantras I live by is valuing time more than money. If you want to free up your time to focus on what you really want to do, keep reading.
To start, lets first talk about being “busy”.
I’ve been thinking about how people throw this term around like cray-cray. Answering "How are you?" with "ugh, I’m so busy”, and “Do you want to grab a coffee on Tuesday?" with "I’m not sure, I might be busy” has become the norm. Being busy seems to have become a lifestyle epidemic around me lately. It's often used as an excuse to postpone decisions about making plans with friends, family, and business meetings. Furthermore, "busy" is often thought of as a good problem to have. We associate "busy" with positive things, it means you have lots on the go, and you're a hard worker. But is this good? What is the value of "hard work"? I don’t see anyone on their death bed wishing they had worked more hours.
I don’t want to be busy. I want to have as much free time as possible. "Free time" doesn't mean doing nothing. I use my time to focus on personal passion projects, travel, learn something new, research for a new project, work out, meditate, or write blog posts!
MAKE TIME FOR YOUR FREE TIME
1. IDENTIFY WHEN YOU ARE MOST PRODUCTIVE
Many of us don't think about when our brain works the best, but rather conform to doing work at times that we think we should do it, or someone tells us to. It's important to stop and analyze when we actually have the most energy and are the most useful to ourselves. I guarantee this productive time does not stretch from the time you wake up to when you go to bed. Many studies show that we are 100% more productive 2 hours after we wake up for only around 4 hours. I wake up at 8am every day, and I'm pretty much useless after 2pm onwards. The night owls amongst us come up with their best ideas at night. If you have a fixed schedule, like a 9-5 job, identifying your most productive time might be harder, as it might have been slightly distorted by the times you've made yourself do work.
2. Write a daily schedule
Keeping in mind when you know you are most productive, write yourself a daily schedule. Days can vary depending on what's going on, but think about it as if you could design your perfect day. Write down specific times from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. I allocate the hours that I have the most energy to things like writing, coming up with ideas, or learning something new. the things that don't require as much concentration, like posting my work on social media, I reserve until later in the day.
3. Outsource everything you can
I have a friend who I talk to every Sunday, and every Sunday he tells me he spent the weekend doing groceries and cleaning the house. His weekends are his only break from work, and by the time he's done cleaning, he no longer really feels like working on that short story he had in mind. I suggest that if you are stuck in a similar situation, try and outsource everything you can. Anything that doesn't need to be done by you. If you spend your whole weekend cleaning, it's probably worth hiring a cleaning service, and spending your time on more important things. You can even use kijiji and craiglsit to hire someone to do your grocery shopping, or your laundry. Instead of learning how to make a website or a logo for your new business, hire someone from Freelancer.com, Fiverr, or 99 Designs to do it for you. Instead of fiddling with SEO or spending all your time on social media marketing for your business, hire a virtual assistant from sources like Upwork, Tasks Everyday, and Your Man in India. They will do a better job than you, and you'll have more time to allocate to what you are really good at.
4. automate decision making
Decisions are taking up too much of your time. By embracing routine, you can free up wasted mental space. You can start doing this by having the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. I have a smoothy every morning, a salad or a vegetable stir fry for lunch, and something else for dinner. Try this routine, and see if your time is saved. Additionally, automate all your bill payments. You can set automatic withdrawals to any bill you have that comes on a regular basis. Do this and get rid of the mental space taken up by the voice reminding you that your cell phone bill is due.
5. Take days off. Take days on.
There is a lot of talk out there in the world about hustling and achieving your goal through hard work and dedication. People practically brag about sleeping four hours a night and being up on their feet all day doing all the stuff they possibly can. Again, this busy state has become the norm, and no one talks about the importance of rest. Any study on sleep out there will show you that if you want to be more productive with your time, sleep is the number one thing that will make you work better. We need 8 hours of sleep a day on average. (I need 9... )
It's easy to burn out when you're working and working all the time. A balance needs to be implemented. Take off a day a week, in which you put all the work and projects aside, setting the intention of rest for the day. If you get really busy, try to clutter as much work as you can when you're in this work mode, so that you're able to take on the day of rest free of guilt. Take a two week or four week trip once a year. Removing yourself from the city and place you associate with doing work, and going to Thailand for a month, will prevent you from doing work even if you wanted to. When you come back to your life, you will feel refreshed and ready to take on anything with a smile on your face.
6. List what you really want to do with your time
After you've finished freeing up your time, you must identify how you want to spend that time! This can be harder than it seems. What would you do if you didn't have to go to work? I suggest writing down a list of twenty five things. Don’t write it in your head, physically write it down so that you can refer to it later. Your list can include whatever you want: go to more networking events, finish that painting for your mom, read a book a week, go to yoga more, write that E-book you've thinking about etc. Make sure to include all the things you've been telling yourself that you don't have time for. Now identify the top five things to exclusively focus on, throwing out everything else.
I recommend The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss for some guidance on how to start living more and working less.
Questions? Comments? Write bellow and tell me about your time management tips!