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“It’s funny,” she said, “I have a bread machine, a laundry machine, a dishwasher, a slow cooker, and a dozen apps on my phone to help me save time. I have all this technology and a million articles on time saving tips…and yet I don’t have any time to spare. How did moms keep it all together 50 years ago?”
It is crazy when you think about it. We’ve got all this technology—a gazillion time savers in and around our home—and we still don’t have any extra time.
We’re pushed to the max, praying for a break, and drowning in the chaos of our daily to-do list.
Do you want to know why? Because I think I’ve figured it out: we are using time saving tips for the wrong reasons.
The #1 reason that time saving tips don’t work is…
The #1 reason that time savers don’t work is that oftentimes, we’re not using them to save time. We’re using them to fit more in to our lives.
Do hear the difference there? Because it’s a big one.
Wait. I can already hear you telling me that the entire reason someone makes use of time saving tips is so they have more time to do other things. Right?
And I hear you.
I mean, the reason people use a laundry machine and a dishwasher and a slow cooker is so they can have more time to hang out with their kids. Maybe have a nice relaxing dinner and afterwards play catch in the yard and then roast marshmallows over a campfire before bedtime…
That’s not what you’re doing?
Of course not. Because we have time and we fill it. We save time and we fill it. We make time and we fill it up.
We never keep the time we save.
We have great intentions, but there is a huge difference between what we mean to do with the time we’ve saved and the things we let creep into that time.
In reality, our plates are so full we don’t even realize how much is on them.
To make matters worse, we’re distracted by shiny things. So while we complain to anyone who will listen about how tired and stressed and over-worked and pressed to the max we are—how there is no possible way we can fit anything else in—we are constantly jumping at opportunities that present themselves out of some masochistic need to do and experience and be all things.
And productivity is great—as is setting goals and working to attain them. But more often than not, the things we’re using to fill up the time we save aren’t the things we’d actually choose to fill our time with if we really sat down and made a plan.
So—whether it’s a piece of time saving technology or a workshop that shows us ten ways to save ten minutes—how do we really make all these time saving tips and technology work for us?
4 ways to make time saving tips work for you
1. Figure out how much free time you actually have right now.
Part of the reason we have such difficulty with time management is that we have no clue how much time our life is actually taking up.
Sit down and make a list of the things you have to do today and how much time it takes. Go through your week and your month.
- How long are you sleeping?
- How long are you driving?
- How long does meal prep take?
- What places are your kids going and how long are you sitting there?
- If you work outside the home, how long are you gone for?
- If you work at home, how long are you in your office?
Now after all is said and done, how much white space do you have left?
2. List what you like to do in your free time.
If you had 15 minutes of free time, how would you most like to use it? If you had an hour, what then? How about 6 hours?
List the things you’d really like to accomplish. Relaxing? Hiking? Getting the basement organized? Coffee with a friend? Training for a 5k?
3. Figure out a way to get that free time.
Now that you know why you want more time, start figuring out a way to get it.
- What can you cut out?
- How can you rearrange your schedule?
- Do you need more help?
- Do you need to lower your expectations?
- Do the kids need to be involved in less extra curricular activities?
- Do you need to be volunteering less away from home?
4. Do the things to save and keep your free time.
It’s one thing to figure out the things you can do to carve out the free time in your schedule, but the biggest thing is that you also have keep that time.
What does that mean?
It means that your time is your time. Whether you’re using that “free time” to read a book, start a blog, or clean your house, respect that time and teach other people to do the same. Draw boundaries around your time. Learn to say no.
Unfortunately, no one gets more than 24 hours in a day, including you. Make those 24 hours count. Keep control of them so you can save time for the things that are important to you.