Do you spend your days rushing around from the minute you wake up until the moment you fall back into bed? Have you ever found yourself turning down an opportunity to enjoy yourself because you’re “too busy”? This frantic busy-ness can rob us of our health, our happiness, and even our love of life.
There could be a number of reasons why you’re overwhelmed with things to do. You might have a young family that needs all your time and attention. Perhaps you have a demanding job that requires you to work very long hours. You may be a caregiver with no time left over for yourself once you’ve finished looking after your loved one.
Whatever is taking up your time and attention, these simple steps can help you snatch back a few minutes here and there, making all the difference in your everyday life.
Look for the pressure points
Spend a few days analyzing your routines and look for the times when you’re really under pressure. If you’ve got school-aged kids, the mornings could be a particularly busy time, with school clothes, homework, and packed lunches to organize. Or maybe late meetings at the office are preventing you from getting home at a reasonable hour to unwind at the end of a long day.
You may find that certain activities sap your time. Doing the laundry, getting the kids to tidy their rooms, or maintaining the yard can all feel like time-stealing monsters. Identifying your pressure points—those areas where you’re short on time—is the first step to managing them. Then pick the most pressing problem to tackle first.
Unless you live alone, clawing back time will require cooperation from others, such as your partner or your kids. You need to get everyone on board to help tackle the problem. Explain what the issue is (e.g. mornings are too busy) and ask for their help to make things easier. Even little kids can be enlisted if you make them feel part of the decision-making process. Talk through the situation, making sure everyone has a chance to speak, and then ask for ideas to help solve the problem.
Make an action plan
Create a concrete strategy that identifies exactly what needs to be done and who will do it. It can include planning ahead, such as laying out clothing choices the night before or cooking a double portion of a meal so you have something ready to heat up on a busy evening. It may help to write the plan on paper and post it in the kitchen or family room so everyone can see it as a constant reminder and motivator.
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Sharing responsibilities is key. Young children can collect and sort laundry. Or perhaps your teenager can cook a meal once a week if you get home late. He or she may need help at first, but it will pay dividends later on. Be sure everyone knows what they have to do and emphasize that everyone must do their share for the plan to work.
Use some harmless bribery
It may help to offer a reward as an incentive, especially at first. If you live alone you might promise yourself something special if you stick to your plan for a month, like a new outfit or a special evening with friends. Or you might arrange a romantic meal for you and your partner, or a family day out with the kids, once your new routine is up and running.
Rinse and repeat
When you’ve successfully tackled one problem area you’ll be ready to fix another. Hopefully, everyone will notice the improvement and be on board to continue helping.
Of course, the real benefit of doing all this is that you will gain some extra time. Those precious few moments to yourself can make all the difference in your otherwise busy day.