This is the final episode of the Imperfect Thriving Declutter series!
Time is free but it is priceless.
You can’t own it but you can use it.
You can’t keep it but you can spend it.
Once you have lost it, you can never get it back.
If you feel like you have been floating through life, not really paying attention to how you are filling your days. If you never seem to make progress toward goals and if you struggle to prioritize and get things done….this episode is for you.
In This Podcast
- Tip 1: do a time audit
- Tip 2: ask yourself why
- Tip 3: is it urgent or important?
- Tip 4: delegate or outsource
- Tip 5: time block
- Tip 6: schedule self care
- Tip 7: don’t forget your future self
Tip 1: do a time audit
In order to improve how to do anything, we must first evaluate how it’s currently being done. If you don’t have a planner, that is absolutely your first step. Then do a time audit of everything that takes up your time every day. If you take a fitness class, be sure to include the time it takes to get there and back, not just the length of the actual class. Include other activities such as scrolling through social media and checking email.
Tip 2: ask yourself why
Look at each entry on your calendar and ask yourself why? Why did I do what I did? Are you accomplishing what you want to accomplish? Are you taking action to move closer to or farther away from the life you want by spending your time this way? If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social, but not accomplishing a goal, use social as a reward. For example, let’s say your goal is to get physically stronger. Give yourself a 15 minute social reward only after you’ve completed a workout. Tie the old habit to the new habit.
Tip 3: is it urgent or important?
Take a look at how you are prioritizing your time and consider these four categories:
- Important and urgent: deadlines or crises that come up in our lives.
- Important, but not urgent: longterm goal setting, planning for the future.
- Urgent, but not important: certain meetings and events that we have to do right now, but they aren’t necessarily really important to us.
- Not urgent or important: social media, lunch out, those types of things.
Be honest with yourself and how you’re categorizing your activities.
Maybe you’re spending a majority of your time living someone else’s agenda, doing things that you have been guilted into doing because they are important or urgent for someone else…You are not doing anyone any favors by withholding honesty from yourself.
Tip 4: delegate or outsource
There are things we want to say yes to, but for various reasons, we don’t really want to spend our time that way. We have other things that are more important, even though these things are still important to us. For example, if your children are getting older, assign them some tasks at home that you’ve been doing on your own. That way you can focus on something more important.
Maybe you’ve been in charge of a weekly or monthly report at work that you can train an assistant to do that will allow you to use more of your expertise in other areas. Ask yourself what you’ve been spending your time on that someone else could do, freeing up that time to do something that is more important.
Tip 5: time block
This is an effective way to stay focused on the task at hand. Every time we switch activities, we lose time. It takes our brain time to make the adjustment from focusing on one activity to focusing on the next.
Going back and forth between tasks costs valuable time. That can mean doing tasks at home and running errands in between or toggling between different tasks at work. Productivity suffers because of this, where we can be much more efficient by blocking time. Another benefit of time-blocking is complete and total focus on the one task at that time. It creates a better product.
Tip 6: schedule self care
At the end of busy days, time can escape us and our self-care can end up on the backburner.
Over time, ignoring self care will catch up in significant ways. Like burnout, sickness, and irritability with others. Self care needs to be scheduled and treated as a non-negotiable on our calendars. That means nothing short of a dire emergency gets between you and this time.
It should be the last thing to go if you have extra tasks or emergencies to fit in your calendar during the week. If you’re not scheduling self care, it could mean that you’re not placing enough value on yourself. Head back to the show notes of episode 55 to grab your ultimate self value worksheet.
Be intentional and specific when scheduling your self care. Ask yourself what about it makes you feel good. More rested? Fills you up and energizes you? The more you can identify the feel good aspect of your self care, the more likely you’ll follow through.
Tip 7: don’t forget your future self
Don’t forget about your long-term goals. Check in every now and then with yourself about your progress towards your one-year three-year five-year and ten-year goals. Are you taking the daily, weekly, and monthly steps to reach these goals?
What steps can you schedule on your calendar in the next week to move closer to these goals?
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Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
Thanks for listening!
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Time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can’t spend it once you have lost it. You can never get it back. That’s from Harvey MacKay. If that doesn’t get you motivated to declutter your calendar, I don’t know what will. I think that this might be my favorite episode yet, and I’m sure that I’m going to be geeking out over this because to me, there is nothing like found time that you can dedicate toward a goal. Toward a future dream, something that you want in your life.
It’s better than finding that perfect seashell on the beach. It’s better than finding gold. So I can’t wait to get started on this episode. If you feel like you’ve been floating through life, not really paying attention to how you’re filling your days. If you never seem to make progress towards your goals, if you struggle to prioritize and get things done, this episode is for you.
I often work with clients in my counseling practice on time management. I’ve learned how to maximize my time to get more done than I ever thought possible. Even a few years ago. And I continue to spend time reading and researching about how to be more productive. And I want to share with you what I’ve learned.
In today’s episode, I’m going to share with you seven things you can do right now to declutter your calendar and stop wasting your time. But first I want to say thank you if you have stuck with me through this five part series, I hope it has helped you declutter your life, assess, and let go of what is not helping you get closer to the life that you want.
I would love to hear what this experience has been like for you. Hit me up on Instagram @imperfectthriving DM me and let me know. If you missed any of the five episodes, go back to episode 53 about decluttering your closet and start there. And don’t forget to grab your ultimate self value worksheet from the show notes of episode 55.
If you are struggling with getting started with any of this decluttering, then this worksheet should be your first stop. And I want to give a shout out to all my friends listening in the UK. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me. I promise to do my best to make the most of it. And I want you to DM me on Instagram.
Let me know what I can do for you, what you want to hear more of. Okay. Let’s declutter your calendar so that you can make the most of your time.
Here is tip number one. Figure out how you are spending your time now. Now I know this is not a glamorous tip, but if we have an issue in our life or something that we want to change or do differently, we have to have a clear understanding of how we’re doing it now.
If you have a calendar and use it, sit down and look at it. Are you writing down how you’re spending your days? If not, take a week and track your time, do a bit of a time audit, write down most everything you do. If you go to yoga class three times a week, don’t just write down the length of time you spend in class.
Write down the time it takes to get ready to drive to and from the class. And time spent in the class. Now, if you do not have a calendar run, don’t walk to go get one. Get the planner type of calendar that gives you the overview of the month. And that has individual days with the hours listed out down the side of the page.
Track your time on those individual day pages. Don’t forget the mindless things we do like scrolling through social media, email, et cetera. Look at your phone and see how much time you spent on your phone and add it to your calendar. So the first tip is do a bit of a time audit and get a clear understanding of how you are spending your days, how you are currently spending your time.
Tip number two, ask why. Once you’ve tracked your time for a week and added it to your calendar, get out that calendar and look at each entry. For each entry, ask yourself why? Why did I spend my time that way? Why did I do what I did? Are you accomplishing what you want to accomplish? Are you taking action to move forward to the life you want by spending your time this way? Or are you moving farther away from the life you want? Here’s an example. Say you notice you spent an hour or more over the course of the day, scrolling through your social, but you can’t seem find the time to exercise like you’ve been wanting to. It might be one of your goals for 2021 to become physically stronger.
The way you are spending your time is not getting you closer to the life that you want to have. Instead set a time of 15 minutes to scroll through your social only after you have spent 45 minutes doing strength training. Tie the old habit to the new habit you want as a reward. So tip number two, after you’ve discovered how you’re spending your time, go through and ask yourself for each activity, why you’re spending your time this way.
And if it is getting you closer to the life that you want to have. Let’s move on to tip number three, determine whether something on your calendar is important or urgent. Our brains can keep us kind of in a tizzy telling us that everything on our list qualifies as important or urgent.
Most of the time, that is simply not so. Remember, we don’t have to believe every single thing our brain tells calls us as if it is truth. My brain can tell me all day long I am Beyonce. And that does not make it true. Now my brain doesn’t tell me this by the way, but it does lie to me in other ways. And I get to be the one to recognize when it is telling me the truth and when it might be lying to me.
I really liked the way Stephen Covey lays this out in his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” He divides time and activities up into four categories or quadrants. Number one is important and urgent. These are deadlines or crises that come up in our lives. Number two important, but not urgent. Longterm goal setting, planning for the future, but it doesn’t have to be done immediately at this moment.
Number three, urgent, but not important. Certain meetings and events that we have to do right now, but they aren’t necessarily really important to us. Number four, not urgent or important. Social media, lunch out, those types of things. So how are you spending most of your time? This exercise is so important because you get a good glimpse of how you are prioritizing.
Maybe you’ve been treating some things as urgent or important that really are neither. Maybe you’re spending a majority of your time living someone else’s agenda, doing things that you have been guilted into doing because they are important or urgent for someone else. Take a good, hard look. Be honest with yourself.
You are not doing anyone any favors by withholding honesty from yourself. So go through and determine whether what you have been spending your time on is important urgent or neither. This will help you prioritize your time, moving forward.
Tip number four, delegate or outsource what you don’t love, or that does not really require you to do.
There are some things people ask us to do that we can simply and politely say no to. We have that choice. There are other things we want to say yes to, but for different reasons, we don’t really want to spend our time that way. We have other things that are more important, even though these things are still important to us. Maybe your children are getting older and you can assign them some tasks at home that you’ve been doing on your own.
Maybe you’ve gone back to work and it makes more sense to pay someone else to clean your house because you need free time to help children with homework or to do other things that are higher on your list of priorities. Maybe you’ve been in charge of a weekly or monthly report at work that you can train an assistant to do that will allow you to use more of your expertise in other areas. Ask yourself what if I’ve been spending my time on that someone else could do for me, freeing me up to use that time on something that is more important.
If you spend hours on the weekends running errands that you don’t get to do during the week, can you pay someone less than what you make to run these errands for you? What could you do with that time? So these examples that I’m giving might not apply directly to you, but you can use them to understand how to use this tip, to prioritize your time, free up some of your time by delegating to others.
Now let’s move on to tip number five. Time block. Oh, how I love how to time block. I will really geek out over this one. Every time we switch activities, we lose time. It takes our brain time to make the adjustment from focusing on one activity to focusing on the next.
Going back and forth between tasks costs us valuable time. Whether it is doing tasks at home and running errands in between, or focusing on different tasks at work. We can be much more efficient by blocking our time. I’m such a huge fan of time blocking. I would not be able to be nearly as productive without it.
On Sundays, I block three or four hours to determine my family’s menu for the week, shop for all of the groceries, prepare all of the meals and clean up. This saves me hours every week. No 30 minutes here or there running to the grocery for a couple of items, no washing pots and pans every night. No mental energy spent during the week deciding what we will eat, and no fast food runs because we are out of food.
Not only that I can play in my prescription pickup and filling up my car with gas all in the same trip while I’m going to the store for these items. And if you want to save even more time during that time block, you can pay a service for someone to shop for you. However, for me, there’s always something that I leave off of my list that I realize I need while I’m at the store.
So the time that I spent in that one trip trip to the store normally saves me two or three more during the week. And therefore it still makes sense to me to do my own shopping. But whatever works for you. You may be better at not ever forgetting something on your list than I am. And I hope that you are.
So, with work, I time block. I don’t see clients on Fridays because Fridays are for creating content, interviewing for the podcast, or recording a solo podcast, and working on my book project. Another benefit of time-blocking is complete and total focus on the one task at that time. It creates a better product.
So find blocks of time, save them on your calendar for particular tasks so that you do not have to switch back and forth, which will save you time and energy. Wow, I love to time block. So that’s tip number five.
Number six. Schedule self care. With the pace of life these days, it is very easy to get to the end of the day, without taking the time to give ourselves what we need to refuel and re-energize, and just be at our best.
When we ignore our own self care, it eventually catches up with us in big ways. Like burnout, sickness, impatience with others, I could go on and on. We need to schedule downtime and self-care on our calendars and treat it as non-negotiable. That means nothing short of a dire emergency gets between you and this time.
It should be the last thing to go if you have extra tasks or emergencies to fit in your calendar during the week. Now, if you find you do not schedule self-care, take some time to figure out why. It could mean that you’re not placing enough value on yourself. You do not see yourself as being important as you really are.
If this is the case, head back to the show notes of episode 55, the secret to de-cluttering your relationships and grab your ultimate self value worksheet. It only takes a few minutes to fill out, but it could change your life. When you schedule self-care, be intentional with what it will look like exactly.
Ask yourself what makes me feel good. Better about myself, more rested. What fills me up and keeps me going. Be specific on your calendar. By being specific, you are more likely to follow through with that self care. So tip number six, when you are de-cluttering your calendar, schedule self-care.
Now onto the final tip. Tip number seven. Don’t forget about your future self. As you are filling up your time on your calendar, don’t forget about your long-term goals. Check in every now and then with yourself about your progress towards your one-year, three-year five-year, and ten-year goals. Are you taking the daily, weekly, and monthly steps to reach these goals?
What steps can you schedule on your calendar in the next week to move closer to these goals? Checking in with goals, thinking about self care, seeing exactly how you want to spend your time, and being more intentional with it will also help you let go of the other things that you have been spending time on that are not as important to you.
So focusing on these things actually help you declutter your calendar, find clarity, and focus on what’s most important to you. When you are motivated towards something that you want, it is easier to prioritize. Miles Davis once said time, “time isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.” Now that we have a better idea of how to make the most out of the time we have, you have a choice.
How do you want to spend your time? What changes can you make now to make the most of the time that you are given? I really hope that you’ve enjoyed the entire de-cluttering series. If you have missed some of the episodes, just go back and listen beginning with episode 53. Now go out and take daily imperfect action toward the life you want, starting with de-cluttering your calendar.
And I will meet you right back here next week.