Do you like to pick up mementos and gifts while you’re traveling? Maybe you collect a few small things along the way, thinking “I’ll find space for this later” and blissfully ignore the fact that your suitcase is already full. Later, the moment of truth comes when you have to cram two bags’ worth of stuff into one suitcase. Hopefully you have some Tetris skills left over from your childhood. Ultimately, though, you might have to give up a few things – your suitcase has size constraints that you can’t overcome.
It’s no coincidence that I’m thinking about overstuffed bags right now, despite the prime vacation months being quite a ways off (…I know, I’m sorry). The concept of trying to fit more things into a space that stays the same size is something that comes up a lot around time management struggles. If the space itself won’t change, you’re going to change how much you pack inside it.
Could Quitting Things Improve Your Time Management Approach?
There’s at least some wiggle room with a suitcase. Time is less flexible. We each get 24 hours in a day. Your plate is already full, and your time is already spoken for, thanks to your work and personal commitments. When you’re already overwhelmed and scrambling to get everything done, adding more activities to your day might not be feasible.
This time management challenge is just one of the reasons why so many of us struggle to fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. So many of them require not just commitment and sacrifice, but a resource few of us have: More time.
Training for a marathon might be something you’re truly committed to. Maybe it would require you to spend 30 minutes at the gym each day to start. Half an hour doesn’t sound like a ton – but if you’re a busy working parent, or an entrepreneur trying to grow your business, or you’re already so overextended that you’re getting insufficient sleep, where will you find that time?
Something’s got to give.
It’s easier to quit the new thing that you’ve only been doing since January 1st than it is to shift your established patterns. I don’t necessarily think that’s the answer, though. If you’ve set healthy or gratifying new goals for your life, I want you to be able to devote time to them. I also don’t think the answer is cutting out even more sleep or taking time away from your family.
But I bet there are things in your life that you could cut out. Activities or tasks that don’t help you move forward or meet your goals. Things that would free up more of your time and, in turn, more of your energy. This will look different for different people. Someone who answers to a boss may not be able to give up time-wasting activities the way an entrepreneur might, for example. No matter your circumstances, though, I think you’ll be able to find some things to give up.
Try tracking your time management during one typical day to look for time wasters, or ask yourself some questions like these:
- If you’re involved in any committees, clubs or groups that require your time each week, could you scale back on any commitments?
- If you lead any regular meetings or conference calls that routinely run long, could you shorten them, make them biweekly instead of weekly, cancel them and touch base by email instead, etc.?
- Could you make a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday instead of going out to get lunch or taking a break to make it each day?
- Does it make sense to outsource some errands, like by using a grocery delivery service instead of shopping for food yourself?
- Would you save time by changing the order in which you approach tasks, like by answering all non-urgent emails once per day instead of whenever they come in?
- Do you devote time to social activities that you don’t really enjoy?
So – if you’re still in that post-New Year’s period of making resolutions and setting goals for 2020, I hope you’ll ask yourself: What can I give up? What can I stop doing? What should I stop doing, in order to find the time for the new things I want to get done this year?
I know that when your habits are already established and you’re juggling so much, making these kinds of changes can be tough. The hardest part is often getting started. You know what you need to do, but you’re not sure what to do first. That’s the problem my clients often struggle with.
If this sounds like you, I hope you’ll join me for my upcoming masterclass, 3 Keys to Getting Started On the Important Things. You’ll learn how to take control of your time and get tools that help you focus how to start moving forward and what to do first. This FREE masterclass will be January 16th, 2:30 ET. Click here to register!
I hope your new year is off to a peaceful and productive start.
Until next time,