5 Steps to Finding Time for the Life you Want
I’m very excited to introduce Alicia Berberich, who is my guest blogger today!
When I recently asked you: What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative practice?, the answer I received the most was: “Time, the lack of time, I have no time!”
Alicia helps moms figure out what they want to do for their next act. Her programs include time management strategies and that makes her the PERFECT blog guest to provide us all with advice on how to find time for the life we want.
So here goes… Take it away, Alicia.
You’ve been dreaming of doing something creative for years, but life gets in the way. Between working, raising kids, your relationship, a social life, something had to give, and it was your dreams. Finding time for what you truly love to do and what feeds your soul is challenging.
There comes a time when you can’t put off your creative dreams any longer. Your inner creative genius starts to get impatient and pushes harder and harder to get out, to be expressed. She has waited a long time, and now it’s her due!
But you feel overwhelmed by the thought of adding another incomplete on your To Do list. How can you possibly eek one more project from your already maxed-out schedule? It feels IMPOSSIBLE.
It’s not your fault that so many things demand your attention. You aren’t taught how to maximize the use of time. It’s like the old method of teaching a child to swim: throw her in the deep end and hope for the best. Some kids swim, some don’t.
How do you structure your time to get what you HAVE to get done as well as what you WANT to do? It is possible to find the time you need to nurture your soul.
This 5-step system will set you up for success.
Step # 1: Know Your Current Situation
To find time for what you love in your already full schedule, you have to know how you are already using your time.
Here is your assignment:
For three days, write down everything you do from the time you get up until you go to bed. Be honest and write down everything:
Walked the dogs
Mark it all down on a chart so you have a record. Here is a link to a great tool to use. The best is to capture every 15 minutes. You can set your alarm to remind yourself. This is a phenomenal exercise to see how you are actually spending your time.
It may seem tedious. But this step alone will set you free. One client of mine did this and discovered that she spends 90 minutes a day on Facebook and Pinterest. When I asked her beforehand, she estimated that she was spending 30 minutes. That’s a big difference.
Step # 2: Analyze Your Data
Now that you have a record, look at exactly how you are using your time and where gaps exist. Look for items you can eliminate, consolidate, or simplify. When my client Jocelyn did this, she discovered she spent an hour a day “drinking tea”. Once you have the overall picture of exactly how you spend your time, it’s time to make some decisions.
No one is passing judgement on how you use your time. The goal is to know so you can make conscious decisions and create open space to explore your creativity.
Step # 3: The Eisenhower Method
Eisenhower was a brilliant General who understood the importance of planning. He created a simple decision-making model. It clearly identifies the crisis most people are facing today: urgent demands take over and important matters don’t get done until they become urgent.
If you feel like you are constantly putting out fires instead of conducting an orchestra, this is precisely why. Unless you take the time to plan the important matters, they are left until they become critical.
Here is the Eisenhower Method with some examples to help you get started.
Run your To Do list through this model and determine what is urgent versus what is important.
Step # 4: Time Blocking
This is the secret ingredient that makes it all possible.
Most people stop their planning once they have their To Do list. The secret to success is to plan exactly when you are going to do what you have to do.
You can print out a weekly calendar from your computer or you can go to my website and download a free weekly calendar page.
The goal is to look at your To Do items, and then block off on your calendar exactly when you are going to do them.
a) Gather your updated To Do list with the urgent and important tasks on it
b) On a weekly calendar, block off hard commitments. I block off client appointments, my teaching schedule, when I have to drive the car pool for my kids, when I have to cook dinner, bedtime, etc. This leaves little gaps in my day.
c) Fill the gaps with your urgent/important items first. For my writing, I need an hour a day. For exercising, I want 45 minutes 4 times a week. Whatever is important for you, write it down so it gets done. Include self-care, doctor appointments, everything. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done. Include time for your creative endeavors.
d) Look at what still needs to get done but doesn’t have a spot on the calendar. Make some hard decisions. What can give? For me, I need quiet, predictable time to write. Once my family is up, nothing is predictable. So I get up early and write before anyone else gets up.
e) Figure out when you can do this scheduling. For me, it’s Sunday evening. I plan out the week so I start Monday morning with a strong plan in place.
Step # 5: Rinse and Repeat
The Rinse is CRITICAL. At the end of week, look back over your schedule to see how it went. Give yourself a grade. How did you do following your schedule? What kept you from doing the things you said you were going to do? How can you improve the system for next week?
This backend analysis is key. Don’t skip it.
Then, make your plan for next week. What’s URGENT? What’s IMPORTANT? Time block it out.
This system will change your life. But you have to take responsibility to plan your work and work your plan. This will enable you to find the time you need to explore your creativity.
That’s a wrap! Thank you so much Alicia for sharing these great tips with us. I can’t wait to put them into practice.
If you would like to learn more about Alicia, check out her website: aliciaberberich.com.
And remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create!
Please share this blog with your friends and family. I’d love for them to read it.