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I'm Deb, and I'm excited to share, learn and grow together.
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Is there something you want to do, but find yourself constantly putting off because you “don’t have time” to make it happen? If so, I’m speaking directly to you.
I recently listened to a presentation on time management from Lisa Bilyeu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition. Her advice was super practical and so actionable that I wanted to share the key takeaways with you. I believe this information can help you take immediate action and achieve the goals you have for YOUR life.
You know that saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way?”. I’m sure you’ve been in the situation where you thought there was NO WAY you could get something done, but it was super important to you, and by some miracle you found a way to get it done, right? Did you stop to think about why or how you were able to do that? Probably not. Like most of us, you were probably off and running to the next firefight as soon as you finished that one.
The reality is that you most likely unconsciously went through the 10 steps I’m going to outline below, but since you didn’t have a framework to help explain what you did, you assumed it was just a fluke and never learned how to harness it to help you achieve more of your goals on a regular basis.
So that’s what we’re going to do here. We’re going to dive deep into the steps you can take to set yourself up for greater success on a daily basis!
Before we get into the action steps you can take, though, it’s important to acknowledge how easily you can fall prey to common time traps. You’ll want to recognize and acknowledge them so you can head them off at the pass.
Top Time Traps
In this world of constant comparison and FOMO, it’s hard not to look at what others have and compare your own situation to theirs, but do you know the ONE thing that is truly equal among all of us in life, no matter whether you’re rich or poor, tall or short, male or female? TIME!
I caught a snippet of a documentary on Bill Gates recently, and they were talking about how highly he covets his time because it’s the only thing he has that’s exactly the same as everyone else. I think it’s safe to say that Bill Gates has found a way to use his time wisely. 😉 If all the successful people you look up to have the same amount of time as you do, with some time management skills and training, you can probably accomplish more of your dreams too, right?
Absolutely! So let’s get into it.
Here are the Ten Action Steps to Make Your Time Count:
Now, let’s break them down and talk about the practical application of this framework.
If you’ve done any sort of work on time management in the past, you’ve probably gotten to step 3 and given up, right? You looked at your time audit, saw that every moment of your day was filled and couldn’t see a way to get beyond it.
You’re not giving up this time! This is where the real magic of the framework begins, so stick with me.
#1 Identify your goal
Why are you trying to manage your time in the first place? What do you want to do or accomplish that requires you to manage your time? Write it down. Just like any other kind of goal in your life, time goals need to be clear and in writing.
#2 Know your WHY.
Ever since Simon Sinek came on the scene with his book “Start With Why”, everyone tells you to know your why. If you’re a little cynical, you might be sick of hearing about it, but it’s something you need to know and it’s super relevant to your success.
So, what is it for you? WHY do you want to manage your time better, why is your goal important to you? If you’re going to stick to your guns when the going gets tough, you need to be dialed in on your why. Write it down.
#3 Audit your time.
If you’ve been down this road before, you’ve probably done a time study or audit. It can be a bit of a grind, but if you want to achieve your time goals, you’re going to need to put in the work – it’s as simple as that! If you really want to be successful, get so granular with your time audit that you know where every minute goes from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed at night! It might not be easy, but it WILL be worth it.
Again, you’ll need to write it down. Do you sense the common theme here? You are so much more likely to succeed if you do the work and write things down. There’s something magic that happens in your brain with this simple act of writing that makes all the difference. I’m not a neuroscience expert so I’m not even going to attempt to explain it, but trust that it’s a thing…so write it down! For the time study, you’ll want to write down the date, time, and activity you are doing. You can download the time study form I’ve created for you here, but if you’re doing this yourself on a piece of paper, you’ll want to add three more columns, Beliefs, Values, and Priority.
If you’ve ever tried to get control of your time in the past, this is probably where you stopped, right? But this is where things are really starting to get good so, do yourself a favor and go the extra mile with this.
There’s no traffic beyond the extra mile – just think about that!
#4 Audit your beliefs.
What does that mean? Well, it means you take the time audit you prepared in step 3 and write out your beliefs about why you do each one of them. If you don’t have a specific answer or your response is, “Of course I have to do that!” without an actual reason, that’s a big red flag. DO you? For real? Is that YOUR belief or someone else’s?
For each item, ask yourself what the worst-case scenario would be if you DIDN’T do it, and whether or not you could live with that.
An example of this might be something simple like making your bed every morning. Do you do it because you have a belief around doing it, or do you just do it because that’s what your mother taught you to do? No harm either way, but if you’re going to beat yourself up if you don’t get it done, or sacrifice something else to do it, you want to make darn sure it’s really important to you.
Can you see how we’re getting into the good stuff here and why I wanted to share?😉
#5 Audit your value system.
Now, consider each item in your time study, and assess where each falls in relation to your value system. You’ll want to get crystal clear on the things that are in alignment with your value system and those that are not. Ultimately, the goal is to have everything you spend time on be something that is actually important to you. Write it down. If it’s in line with your values, put Yes, if not, put No.
Lisa gave an example in her presentation about ironing clothes. She spent a ton of time ironing, doing everything from shirts and pants to underwear and bed sheets! She had never even considered not doing it because that’s how she was raised and taught.
But when she wanted to do more things that she didn’t seem to have time for, she did her time study, took a hard look at her beliefs and values, and realized that ironing the underwear and bedsheets was a colossal waste of her time! But until she stopped and really took a good look at where her time was going, and considered her values and beliefs, she continued to do it.
What are you “ironing”? For me, it was cleaning my house. I used to think I needed to clean the house every week because that’s what we did growing up and I didn’t think twice about it. In reality, with only two of us in the house, cleaning it all every week was just unnecessary. But it wasn’t until I had other things I wanted to use my time for that I finally relented, and became ok with not doing it every week. I didn’t go through the process we’re talking about here to come to that conclusion, but bottom line, I realized that cleaning the house every week wasn’t my belief and value, and made the shift.
Write down your day to day priorities versus your life priorities, so you can evaluate the importance of things when they conflict, and make the “right” decision.
This is another critical piece in this process. We all have conflicts between our day to day and life priorities, but when you take the time to evaluate your activities and assign a priority to them, it will be easier to decide where to spend your time.
If you’ve established that your highest life priority is family time and your highest day to day priority is work, you won’t have to think twice when your co-workers ask you to go out for a beer after work on the same night as your daughter’s track meet, right?
How about if you have to decide between going out for the beer after work and heading home to work on your side hustle? It’s on your calendar for tonight because everyone will be out of the house and it’s your one night this week to work on it. What then?
If your life priority is to build and grow a business so you can leave that job, then you need to put on your big girl (or boy) pants and head on home! But if you haven’t done the work to know your beliefs, values, and priorities, you’ll go out for that beer, not work on your side hustle, and then wonder why it’s so hard to find time to get your business going. Right?
Once you’ve determined your day to day and life priorities, go back to your time audit and place a D (Day to Day) or L (Life) behind each item to designate whether it is a Day to Day or Life Priority.
#7 Ask yourself, “No BS, what is it going to take to achieve this goal?”.
Is the goal you’re trying to achieve something that needs to be added to your plate or will it replace something that’s already on your plate? Will it be a short-term sacrifice or a long term commitment? Considering this up front will help you understand how big the transition will be so you can plan for it.
So let’s keep going with the side hustle theme – that’s your goal and the reason you’re trying to manage your time. No BS, what is it going to take to achieve this goal? Is it going to add to what’s already on your plate, or is there something you’re giving up to give you more time to pursue this?
Is this a short term sacrifice or a long term commitment? It’s probably a longer-term commitment, so that means you’ll have to assess the kind of time you can realistically devote, and factor that in when you establish your overall goals. If you can only find 2 hours a week to work on it, it will take you longer to reach your goal than if you can find 10 hours per week. Both work, but you need to be realistic with yourself about it. Write down what it’s going to take to achieve this goal.
#8 Know yourself.
Don’t try to BS yourself with this one either. Be honest about what you will need to be able to show up and give your best effort towards achieving your goal. This includes things like sleep, nutrition, and self-care. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Get clear on what is right for you so you can manage your expectations – know when you can hit it hard, but also know when it’s time to slow down.
Set yourself up for success. If you need 7 hours of sleep a night to properly function, don’t think you can just chop off 2 hours a night and fast track your success. The exact opposite will happen. It doesn’t matter what someone else’s journey looks like – you do you! It’s your best shot at having the success you are seeking! Write down what you need to succeed and make it a priority.
Make sure the important people in your life know what you’re working toward, and how you’re changing your habits and behaviors, so they can support you. If they don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, they’ll unintentionally be the first ones who’ll try to lead you astray. Surprising them can lead to misunderstanding, so always communicate what you’re doing and why. Write down who knows about your goal and how they can help you achieve it.
#10 Set boundaries.
People often place demands on your time without you even realizing it, so once you know what it’s going to take to achieve your goal, you’ll need to hard code your priorities into your calendar. Defining and sticking to your boundaries is critical to managing your time. The things you spend your time doing dictate the direction of your life! You need to make sure it’s what you really want. Write down the boundaries you are setting and, if applicable, who will help you maintain them.
Now you’ve done the leg work, and it’s time to wrap it all up with a pretty bow! Review your completed time study and determine which activities absolutely need to stay based on your values and beliefs. Then add in the new activity(ies) you’ll need to do to achieve your goal. From there, put together a new time schedule that will allow you to accomplish your goal. Don’t forget to assign your priority to each of these activities so you know which decision to make when conflicts arise, and be sure to communicate this new plan with the people closest to you so they can support you and help maintain your boundaries.
Once you’ve done this work, you will be well on your way to taking control of your time and making it count!
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!
Opportunities to derail you will show up…most likely every day! Knowing your why and sticking to your beliefs and values will help you stay strong and make the right choices in the moments when conflicts arise. This is also when those closest to you will have your back, pick you up, dust you off, and help you maintain your boundaries. They can’t help you if you don’t share what you’re trying to accomplish, so don’t try to do this all on your own!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this time management framework. Are you willing to give it a try? Have you found something similar that works for you? Let me know in the comments.
Through all of my work, my overarching goal is to share information that will help you live a more fulfilling and successful personal and professional life. Go out there and get it!
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