You may have a situation that is similar to mine. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now probably know what my issue is: I never seem to have enough time to do everything that I want to do, and I'm always struggling to find time to relax. There are a plethora of reasons for this, but the main ones include trouble saying no, a longstanding tradition of basing my self worth on how much I do, and the fact that I am passionate about and interested in a number of different life paths, activities, and endeavors--so it can be hard to prioritize.
As a part of my Time Makeover, Vanderkam had me track my schedule on a 168 Hours spreadsheet for an entire week. Then, I sent this spreadsheet to her (scary!)--with all of my activities placed into categories--and we scheduled a phone call. I finally spoke with Vanderkam last Thursday, and she had some great feedback and advice for me. Without boring you with the ins-and-outs of my somewhat-scattered weekly schedule (it's different every day, which I love, but this can also lead to a bit of craziness!), I wanted to share the more universal themes that Vanderkam and I discussed in our call:
1. Getting into a daily rhythm is extremely important. Because I have so many different "jobs"/roles in my life, she could immediately see that I'm often pulled in many directions and not able to spend quality time/an entire day focused on one task, which she said can make things a lot more overwhelming (mentally). She made an important point about this--if you can try to push some things together and create bigger chunks of time during which you focus on one thing (as opposed to trying to do it in 30-minute segments throughout the day), you'll make much more space in your mind for the subject at hand and be able to focus better (and feel less overwhelmed).
I must do more of this. Biggest takeaway when it comes to this subject? Stop checking my email before and after I complete any and every task.
2. Make time to recharge. After talking for a while, Vanderkam asked, "Where do you fit in time for socializing?" To which I awkwardly replied that often, my social life gets pushed to the back-burner when I get busy. Besides maybe thinking that I'm a total loser and that I have no friends (so sad!), Laura also told me that I need to make time to relax and be social. She said that everyone needs to have time to unwind, and that the most productive and successful people often take entire days or weekends off to relax and spend time with loved ones.
This is SUCH an important reminder, and I am going to make more of an effort to be social--something I've always filled my life with, but have done less and less of over the past year or two.
3. If something is important to you, you can find the time for it. If there's something that you want to do more of in your life, decide how many hours you want to devote to that activity on a weekly basis, and then look at your schedule and find time for it. Simple as that. For instance, one of my big goals is to create more time for painting. I'm currently painting 5-6 hours per week, and really want to get it up to at least 10-12. After looking over my schedule, Vanderkam quickly found two places that I could rearrange things to fit this in. But she reiterated that I must schedule it the same way that I would a yoga class--and must protect the time and treat it as a priority. Again, I knew this, but having an outsider say it (and find the space in my schedule!) was a great reminder.
I hope that some of these lessons apply to your life and your schedule, and that you can continue to tweak how you spend your own time, until you find a balance that allows you to do everything you want to do.
To close, I want to reiterate that I highly recommend tracking your time for 1 week (168 hours) to see how you're spending your days. This exercise was really interesting for me, and after completing it, I was able to go back and do another version of this spreadsheet, this time creating my "ideal" schedule within my current framework.
Here are two small snapshots of my spreadsheets:
This is how I'm working on simplifying my life. How can you do the same?
PS. What do you think of the little makeover that I gave Starr Struck over the weekend? I hope you like it!