The number one reason that people give for not making lifestyle changes is “I don’t have time.” I know that I have said this myself many times: “I don’t have time to pack my lunch”, or “I don’t have time to do a daily stress management practice.” Perhaps you have also blamed lack of time for not working towards your health goals.
However, many of the busiest people seem to have time to exercise, prepare healthy meals or eat dinner as a family. How do they do this? They are often really skilled at time management. It’s a common belief that people can either manage time effectively or they can’t – but time management is actually a skill that anyone can learn and become good at.
Start off by being curious about how you actually spend your time. Keep a time record for two weekdays and one weekend day. Record everything you do at a level of detail that is helpful for you.
Then take a look at your time record and see if it can shed some light on patterns of behavior that you perhaps did not even know you had. It can be helpful to ask yourself a few key questions as you review your record:
- Are you spending time on things that align with your core values?
- Are you wasting time?
- Are you working on things important to your goals?
Then choose and implement some timesaving strategies. Here are some of my favorites:
- Delegate – I noticed that I spend too much time in the morning doing things for my kids that they can easily do themselves. I now eat breakfast in a more relaxed way because my kids are getting their own backpacks ready.
- Say NO to set limits on your time – when someone asks me to add another task or activity into my day, I often tell them I will get back to them. This gives me time to determine if the activity aligns with my core values or is pulling me away from things I really want or need to be doing.
- Piggyback activities – if a girlfriend asks me to meet her for lunch, I ask if we can meet for a walk instead. I have very limited time available to exercise so I piggyback my exercise onto some social activities.
- Ask for help – a friend and I help each other with grocery shopping. We provide each other with a list so we each only go to the store every other week.
- Reward yourself for reducing those time wasters – do you surf the internet and stay up way too late? Do you check email to avoid completing a particular task? Plan to give yourself a weekly reward if you can reclaim that precious time.
As you learn to effectively manage your time, you may find that you actually do have time to do more fun, nurturing activities. So take back your time and enjoy!