I don’t have time. I’m so busy. It’s been insane.
I think if I hear any variation of that sentiment one more time – especially when it comes out of my own mouth – I may go insane. For real. But then again, I may not have time for that either.
Why are all of us SO busy, ALL the time? How is it possible that out of 24 hours (or 1,440 minutes) in a day – of which most adults are awake for about 17 of those hours (or 1,020 minutes) – that NONE of us have time? How ironic and ridiculous does that sound? Very. Because the fact of the matter is, it’s not actually about being busy all the time (or nuts, crazy, insane, non-stop – or whatever other term you use to describe that “state”) – it’s really about how we prioritize and manage those 1,440 minutes every day. Prioritizing being the first thing here. And if you’re reading this and also happen to have a vagina – then I’m guessing actually finding time for yourself is at the bottom of the laundry list, if it even makes the list at all (but you DID after all find the time to read this, even for a measly 5 minutes…).
For those vagina bearing souls out there – don’t laugh and scoff at that last line. Even if you had to lock yourself in the bathroom to have a moment, taking a moment to yourself and reading my (not so) deep thoughts was your priority RIGHT NOW. So do yourself a favor, keep that bathroom door locked, feign explosive diarrhea for a few more minutes and applaud yourself for giving yourself a little time out (so now do me a favor, keep reading – and if you like what you read, hit that little heart at the bottom of the article, etc., etc…).
Let’s talk about priorities. We all have them. We are constantly juggling the pieces of our life – or our “balls” for those of you that read about all my “balls” in a prior post. If you missed that one, then maybe keep that door locked another 5 minutes to read that blog post after this. The point is, we have to decide how to categorize all the many pieces of our lives – but then prioritize. And as difficult and challenging as it can be sometimes, we have to do our best to “juggle all those balls”. We cannot be all things to everyone at one time, so prioritizing is key to keep us juggling balls – and not losing our marbles in the process.
OK, so where do we start? How do we prioritize and better manage those precious 1,020 waking moments we have in a day? Let’s think of it in terms of “ATE’s”:
CREATE: A list. Yes, I said create a list and now you’re rolling your eyes. Well, quit it. Lists are one of my best friends – and should be one of yours. Seriously, it may sound silly – but it’s really a simple way to help get on the road to finding time. Whether it’s keeping track on your calendar, post its around your office and house, a list on your phone – or even kick it old school and actually HANDWRITE a list – on a pad, in a notebook, or even on the back of your wrist. Whatever is your most comfortable way to think of all the things you need to tackle, get it all down somewhere – collectively and visually. It’s crucial that you actually see it in front of you. Don’t stress if it’s long – just get it all written out and then take a look.
EVALUATE: Now that list is together, don’t panic. It may look daunting, but so does any major task we are faced with all at once. It’s about first evaluating your tasks. Are there any tasks that could be grouped together as one? Think about it – there may be things on there that are one and the same and your daunting list of 27 “to do’s” is really more like 15. Once you evaluate and start thinking about the list you’re ready to….
DESIGNATE: a level of priority to each item on the list. Literally place numbers next to each task in their order of priority. If a certain task has a time constraint, then those are the ones that may need to lead the pack. What about everything else? Is there anything you could….
ELIMINATE(?): Could you do without some things you included on this list? Your immediate impulse may be to say “NO – all this has to happen” – but I’d bet there is something included that you could actually do without or avoid altogether. And a great way to do that is to actually practice saying the word “NO” – not to me, when I ask if you can avoid anything on the list – but to some of the commitments you make in your life that (1) you really don’t HAVE to do and (2) don’t really WANT to do. It’s with the best intentions, but in our quest to try to be all things to everyone, all the time – we have forgotten how to say that simple, two letter word. Except maybe when our significant other wants to get laid. Try saying NO to some other things – and you may actually want to do the nasty when propositioned. Or better yet – you’ll want to even initiate. YES, you can. More on the art of saying NO in a future blog.
DELEGATE: Yes, you can do that too. Sure, there will be things on the list that you really need to do – or may feel more comfortable doing. But, are there things you could get some help with? Could your significant other pick up dinner on the way home? If you have kids – could a friend or family member help sometimes? Is it possible use a cleaning service and eat out occasionally? Don’t be hesitant to ask for help – will things get done EXACTLY like you do them? Probably not. Maybe they’ll get done better. You say NO to that too? OK, understandable – but last time I checked, Joan of Arc already burned at the stake – so take the martyr sash off and accept or ask for help whenever it’s possible.
How did you do? Hopefully after you “ATE”, you managed to get all your tasks done – and dare I say, found a slot for a little me time. In fact, once you get some practice at this, I’m challenging you to actually add things to your list that are just for you. Things that you really enjoy and WANT to do. Go take a walk. Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Take a beach day. Watch some bad reality TV. Read a book. Go to that concert with your best friends. Take that trip you’ve been thinking about. Laugh. Tell someone you love them and that you’re thinking of them. It’s really easy to get caught up in the insanity of everyday life. But don’t be too busy to add these things to the list. You won’t regret it. I promise.