How many times have you said “I really want to (insert thing here), but I just don’t have the time right now.”
If you’re anything like me you probably say that 36 times a day (and counting). It’s the most frustrating thing in the world to realize that our time is limited. (Well… not THE most frustrating, but it’s certainly up there).
I can’t actually give you extra time in your life, trust me friend I wish I could, but I do want to share the two biggest things I’ve learned in the last six months that have given me time back into my life: priority and efficiency.
Those words sound kind of stupid and annoying at this point I know, but here me out. There really isn’t enough time to do EVERYTHING (so sad so sad), but there might be enough time to do the things that are most important to you.
That’s where priority comes in.
I got frustrated one day when I realized I constantly tell myself “I’m going to… watch this movie, read this book, get through my comic book collection, skate board again, land an ollie, make a YouTube series, blah blah blah… when I have the time”, because I know damn well I am never going to have the time to do all of those things. Especially the way I do things.
This is why I’m changing up my methods and sharing them with you. Hoping this will help me figure things out and if you have any tips that you use please do share them in the comments below.
My first tip: figure out what ALL the things you want to do are.
You can’t prioritize things if you don’t even know what all the things you’re trying to do are. At least I can’t. This article might resonate a little stronger with those who also have ADHD, or just get excited about way too many projects, but I’m sure everyone could implement these practices.
I say this because if you do have A LOT of things you want to do you might start to feel overwhelmed and conflicted, so writing out the tasks might help a lot. I call my list “masterlist of things to do”. My anxiety has made me a person who craves organization to stay sane, so my list is a litttttle more extra than it needs to be….
I sorted all my tasks into subsections so I know what my main priorities are and how I can get to them. But before I even did that I wrote out my values so I could ensure they all aligned. You can do this step however you want, but I encourage you not to skip it. It’s much easier to prioritize things when you know what’s infront of you.
I love having a comprehensive list of activities, but what really keeps me productive is organizing these tasks in ways that I can manage in a flash: that’s where the efficiency comes in.
It’s helpful for me to have all my stuff written out, so I can see my priorities and make the big decisions of how I want to spend my time, but it helps SO MUCH MORE to make an efficient system around those things. That’s why I also organize my to-do list using a browser extension called todoist (a convenient and free tool).
My second tip: find a way to do things efficiently for YOU.
I’ve made a point of sharing what I do, but I’m not telling you to do those things. Maybe that app won’t work well for you. Maybe you don’t like the way it looks, runs, or your not a digital organizer. That’s cool, but no matter how you like to do things I do urge you to try and create some form of efficiency in your life.
Mine has changed a lot since I started this article. I no longer really use to-do-ist (maybe I should). But at the moment I’m just focused on a few small tasks, so my focus is on making those tasks efficient.
I’m working on some checklists, so you might see a blog about that soon. But real quick…
Let’s go back to priorities. I’ll use myself as an example so you can see how these two things work together to give me back more time in my life.
After all my writing and list making I found that my top values and priorities are: spending time with my family and friends, being mindful and taking time to journal or meditate almost daily, learning and or doing a hobby every day to keep myself feeling good, working out and caring about my physical health, eating well, taking care of my gecko ÁNGEL, maintaining good personal finance, and still allowing myself to rest and relax between things.
I won’t even pretend that I do these things on the daily or never stray away from some of them (like the occasional takeout meal that isn’t so healthy), but writing these things out and really organizing myself HAS helped me to do these things more consistently.
But I still struggle doing all of these things, that’s why I try my best to be efficient with them. Efficiency takes out a lot of effort, which helps me get motivated on lazy days.
Productivity is cool, but with so little time in our lives productivity shouldn’t be the end goal, efficiency should be.
I used to pump out one podcast a week and occasionally promote it. I was always procrastinating recording, stumbling through the process of editing and missing steps, and getting my stuff out just in time (sometimes not even in time) and hardly getting a chance to promote my work.
I’ve talked about it before on this blog, so it probably comes as no surprise when I say the reason things were so chaotic (when they really had no reason to be) was because of friction.
Friction is the biggest cause of procrastination. And it makes everything feel overwhelming.
I experienced so much friction in my podcast process because I didn’t have any way to organize my ideas, any real steps to my process, or even a schedule to follow. This left me feeling disorganized and often made me not wanting to start an episode (because option anxiety is paralyzing). Seriously. If you have like 3000 ideas for a blog post and you can’t choose one, you’ll never write anything.
The only reason I’m writing this blog right now is because I now have a system of organizing my ideas that works super well. It’s called airtable. Here I have all of my ideas in a format that is easy for me to use, read, and organize. When the time comes for me to write, I jump right in by choosing one that interests me (or one that I scheduled ahead of time) and get to writing.
I no longer feel as stressed because I know where my ideas are and everything has a quick and easy system.
Sadly I’m not a wizard and not everyday goes perfectly. I still have days where I lose my motivation, run out of time, or simply give up on everything because getting tired after working is a real thing.
BUT getting my priorities straight and working on efficiency has helped me so much in getting more of what I WANT done.
And I think it’s important that I point that out because I sometimes feel really discouraged or upset when I don’t get a lot done, but that doesn’t help anyone. Now I try and focus on the bigger picture and how much I’ve grown rather than how much I haven’t done. Have to look at the glass half full folks.
I hate that we don’t have time to do everything, trust me, it gets to me almost everyday. But I think these simple, and sometimes annoying concepts, can really make a difference in our lives.
The last thing I want to say is…
My third tip: take the time now to save time later.
Setting up this blog was not easy for me. And cutting back on my podcast episodes has been even harder. But there’s a reason I did.
I stopped making podcasts and I didn’t really write much for over a month (it might have even been two) because my systems were completely non-existent and I was tired of working that way. It stressed me out and made everything take WAY longer than necessary.
Sometimes, as hard as it is, we have to set aside the comfort of just doing what’s best for us right now and think about what’ll be good in the long run. Instead of eating out you can go get groceries so you have food for 2-3 days as opposed to one meal. The same thing applies to our time. Instead of rummaging through your wardrobe every morning trying to find your work shirt, and being late again, you can take some time the night before to organize your clothes so you no longer have that struggle.
Or, if you’re a creator and your biggest friction is that you have no system around your craft, you can slow down your creating (or stop completely) for a little while and find some time to organize things so in the future you can do more of what you love with less effort.
I’m batch making my content right now, very slowly, as I work on organizing my systems. Batching my work, efficiently, is helping me feel less stressed so I can focus on setting up systems and organizing all of my old stuff that needs some serious work. And it won’t last forever. Once I have things a bit more organized I do plan to bump myself up to two podcasts a month, hopefully.
What is the point in all of this? I really want to create more things that I’m proud of, and get more things done in my life that I care about. I don’t have time to do everything, but I do have time to do the most important things. And that time has come from a little organization and a lot of patience.
Also.. If you’re interested in a few extra tips I have on efficiency…
Here a couple of things I’ve recently set-up that you can use as examples of how to implement efficiency into your life:
- My finance tracking spreadsheet – in here I track my income, bills, spending, important documents, and links to the websites I use to pay for things. This has made money way less of a time-stealer for me.
- Ángel’s Care Guide – here I track his food, weight, poop, behavior, cleanings, etc., so I never have to guess what he needs or stress that I haven’t done something for him. And if he ever starts acting odd or isn’t feeling well, I can easily try to figure our what it might be.
- Google calendar for life, work, and content – by separating my calendars but keeping them together at the same time I can easily see how much time I have in my day and plan my tasks accordingly. I start by putting in the tasks that I think I MUST do today, and than add in anything I want to TRY to get in.
- Staying Clean – keeping my kitchen, bedroom, closet, bathroom, etc., clean is a huge timesaver. Knowing where things belong, where they are, and just having an organized physical space overall is huge for getting things done. If you’re not having to set aside a bunch of time to clean up your messes you’ll have more time for those other things 🙂
And my final bonus tip: Organize as you go.
It’s easier to clean up as you go (after a meal, after your shower, after a wild party, etc.,) than it is to clean up a month or two’s worth of a mess all at once. Once you have systems to help you be efficient, keep up with them! It’ll make your life feel less stressful, you’ll feel more productive, and this will give you more time to rest 🙂 and rest is just as important, if not more, than being organized.
I hope these tips can be useful for you too. I’m excited that I’ve been able to get a little more done recently, and I hope you can feel that too if you’re looking for it. It sucks so bad that our time is limited, but there are a few things we can do to get that time back. Get prioritizing, get efficient, get consistent, and as always…
Until Next Time,