We wrote this post for anyone who feels overwhelmed, stressed, and like they have way too much to do and too little time - Otherwise known as almost anyone who’s alive.
For me, there was just never enough time to do all the things I had to do. And I was always feeling guilty. I felt guilty for not spending enough time with my family. I felt guilty for not spending enough time at work. I felt guilty for not spending enough time working out, eating well, cleaning my house - the list was endless. And the guilt was proportionally endless too.
Never enough time
Here’s how life typically went down over here:
Get ready/Answer emails/Get kids ready/Pick up the house/Dishes - All at the same time
Yell at the children
Send emails full of spelling errors and spill coffee on myself
Send kids to school
Make to-do list that’s a mile long
Do some work
Add things to the to-do list
Think of things I forgot to do. Get upset. Then forget them again.
Think about working out but decide I’m too busy
Feel guilty for not working out
Get kids from school
Take them to activities. Do more work. Return calls. Think about making dinner. Decide pizza is easier. Supervise homework. Send them to bed. Become comatose in front of the TV until my husband literally drags me to bed.
Wake up at 2am thinking of all the things I forgot to do
You can create time
The first time I heard someone say “You can create time” I had a massive eye roll moment. I mean, come ON. Time can’t be magically manifested. You get 24 hours. And you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
Until I started to understand how time works.
It speeds up when you’re having fun.
It moves slowly when you’re miserable (ever been to the DMV?).
Time is relative.
AND I started to notice how I was undervaluing my time. I was spending time on things that didn’t really matter to me. My time was getting eaten up with:
People pleasing - I was doing things to try and make others like me
Being a control freak - I like the dishwasher loaded a certain way thankuverymuch so I’ll just do it
Wanting to be superwoman - I’ll cook this ENTIRE Thanksgiving dinner for 16 people because if I ask for help then I must be weak
Trying to meet some kind of expectation - I should totally train for a marathon because that’s impressive! I thought learning to play the guitar would be fun but it’s not really fun and now I see my guitar and feel bad I’m not practicing
Procrastinating - See above. When you’re overwhelmed and you don’t have a plan, it’s way easier to scroll through social media, watch Netflix, or do ANYTHING that’s not what you’re supposed to be doing.
Time is money. Money is time. You wouldn’t burn money. You wouldn’t spend it on things that don’t matter to you.
But do you burn time? Do you spend it on things that don’t matter to you? Wut?
Reclaiming your time
You have to reclaim your time to create more of it. Here are some steps to get er done:
Write it all down. Having a bunch of thoughts swirling through your head is a recipe for confusion, overwhelm, forgetting, and guilt. You’ll be doing one thing, feeling like you should be doing something else. So let’s not do that. Write it down.
Get real. Do the things on your list HAVE to get done? Or are they like some of the contestants on the Bachelor/Bachelorette. Are they there for the wrong reasons?
Choose. Give your metaphorical Bachelor star roses to those items that deserve to stay. Give them to the things you really like or the things you really have to do because that’s adulthood.
Delegate and ask for help. Find the things you can spread around. Maybe it’s a coworker, friend, partner, child. Maybe it’s hiring someone. Take the damn superhero cape off. It doesn’t even work.
Calendar it. This is where I’m going to lose you. But trust me. The to-do list is a great first step, but it’s fundamentally flawed. Put stuff on your calendar!
Planning ahead - it’s your friend
To-do lists can be overwhelming. Nothing is prioritized. So it’s easy to “productively procrastinate” (credit to one of my clients for this term) by doing the tasks you don’t dread, instead of the tasks that really need doing.
Also, to-do lists can be like a cloud of misery - hovering over you, never complete, hard to get a handle on, raining on you and your cute outfit. So when you’re trying to do something fun, you’re thinking of how your to-do list isn’t done (because IT’S NEVER DONE). And then you can’t even enjoy your fun time.
Quick brain recap:
Your old brain likes immediate gratification. It likes to escape pain.
Your new brain is logical and good at planning.
The to-do list empowers the old brain. It makes procrastination easy. Calendaring helps protect against this because it lets your smarty pants new brain make the decisions.
How to create time
Here comes the secret sauce. If you’ve whittled down your to-do list to things that matter, your’e already ahead of the game. But this is where time is REALLY created.
Figure out when things have to get done
Decide how long they’ll take (be conservative)
Put them on your calendar
Do them when they’re scheduled
Enjoy your free time, guilt-free
Ignore the part of your brain that wants to be footloose and fancy free. This part of your brain doesn’t care if you put all your time into a giant dumpster and light it on fire as long as it keeps you warm for 5 minutes.
Give it time
New things always take time. And you’re going to run into resistance. Your old brain will probably feel like you’re taking away your freedom. But this system will actually GIVE you freedom.
It always takes time to adjust to stuff. So give yourself two weeks of trying to do this.
Really commit, go all in on it, and see what comes up for you. Chances are you're going to see a bunch of time wasters jump up. You're going to be scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, checking out what's on Netflix, reading the news, doing things that maybe feel productive but aren’t really.
And then let us know how it goes for you.
It’s one thing to read how to do something. It’s a whole other thing to put it into practice. Like when Mark and I tried to do a Facebook Live and the articles on how to do it were wrong so we recorded a sideways video. If you want help reducing your stress, balancing your priorities, and dealing with burnout - schedule a free consult with us.
And we just started a new Facebook group called Surviving the Middle Ages. We'd love to have you. Come join us.