Have you ever felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day? Well, I’ve been there—and I’ve actually been there time and time again in my life. As a dreamer and a doer, life has been a balancing act of thinking up amazing ideas and finding the time to implement them, all while contributing to initiatives and organizations that I have found fulfilling and meeting my responsibilities as a friend, family member, and now wife and mother.
I’ve been managing a lot for as long as I could remember. I was in 14 school-based organizations my freshman year in college and committed to being active in every organization—integrity is high up on my list of values. I volunteered in almost 20 initiatives while working 2 jobs right after college. I earned a 3.9 GPA during my Master’s Degree program at an Ivy League University while serving as Director of the Politics and Cultural Pluralism Program at my residence hall. Now, I run a leadership and business coaching practice, serve as founder and leader of a nonprofit that serves under-resourced youth, am in my third year of marriage, and have an 11-month old child (not to mention still being active in a few community-based organizations).
So how do I do it?
How do I manage to make time for the things I’m passionate about while managing everything else? A few things stand out as the key to this balancing act that I hope can be helpful to you whether you’re a visionary, business leader, current entrepreneur, or simply interested in managing your schedule more effectively. One thing I know for sure: Success in any of my endeavors has a lot to do with how I manage my dreams amidst everything else. Here’s a glimpse into how I do this:
1) Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, constantly tired, and not fulfilled, you may have a priority issue.
Years ago, I found myself feeling exactly this way. I was nominated with an amazing award in Washington, D.C. and on the outside, it looked like life was perfect, but I was doing way too much. I had to stop and really look at what I was doing and what I aspired to do. It’s only because I decided to stop and restructure my priorities that I was able to develop an amazing relationship with my future husband and take the time to create and launch what became a successful life coaching practice.
ACTION: Create a list of all of the things that take up your time (think about anything that takes over 20 minutes to do, and include communication with specific family or friends). Place a minus sign next to those things you want to reduce spending time on. Place a star next to those top 3 things that should be getting the most of your time. Write another list of the top 3 things you value when it comes to your daily life. Check your top 3 priorities against your top 3 values. Are you in alignment? Change what you spend your time on and you will change your life.
2) Find the most practical time management tools that work for you
Research shows that those who intentionally manage their time tend to be the most successful.
When I first got to college, people were getting pretty mad at me here and there, because I would never follow through on my promise to call them back. I was trying to keep too much in my mind at the same time and wasn’t able to operate in integrity as a result. I had to learn a key concept that helps me in business now—the fortune is in the follow-up, and the follow-up (for me) doesn’t happen unless it’s written down. Now, I write everything down. I use the Reminders and Notes app on my iPhone as well as Google Calendar to ensure that I get things done effectively and take advantage of other online tools for my business to track, organize, and plan what’s important.
ACTION: Determine what tools work best for you to manage your time. Some tips, strategies, and tools from articles I’ve read and experts I’ve listened to in the past are below:
- Try different tools such as Google Calendar, task management apps, paper-based organizers, desk calendars, or even daily to-do lists, and stick with what works best for you to stay organized
- Do the hard things first during your work time in order to accomplish huge goals every day at work and at home
- Plan your priorities and plan what time of day you will implement those priorities, but plan those things out at least the evening before the day of implementation
- Have no more than 3 major goals per day of major things you’re striving for that will have major impact on your life or business
3) Focus on doing what you’re great at, and consider outsourcing or delegating other tasks
Part of finding time to do what you love comes from knowing that you can’t do everything and do it well. We have to remind ourselves that there are individuals who have mastered certain things that might take us a super long time to do (when we really don’t have that kind of time). Outsourcing and delegating gives you more time to do the things you love or the things that only you can do!
When I first started my business years ago, I would spend hours at a time working on images for my branding. Those were hours that would have been better spent reaching out to prospective clients or working on other ways to build my brand and following. Recently, I spent just a little bit of time trying to think of new branding images for my business and decided to outsource to not waste valuable time on something I knew the right expert could work on. I outsourced the creation of my branding and paid an expert to work on this, which allowed me to have time to prepare extremely well for a speaking engagement where I got about $10,000 in leads. Outsourcing pays off.
ACTION: Choose a few tasks that you are doing that are taking up quite a bit of time that you might be able to outsource. Be creative in thinking about this. You can use websites like Upwork.com or Care.com for some ideas on what you can outsource. Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, see the list below for just a few ideas of what you might be able to outsource to experience more peace, more time with loved ones, and more leisure time.:
- Brainstorming ideas for life or business
- Hair styling
- Video production
- Event planning
- Writing/ Blogging
- Website creation
- Research for life or business needs
- Sales calls/ Client check-ins
So those are just a few strategies and tools that I think could prove to be extremely helpful for you as you look to find time for your dreams amidst managing everything else!
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Photo credit: Heather Zabriskie