They just don’t have enough time they tell me.
After all, you’re probably working a full-time job, you might be taking care of a family or you have other extracurricular activities, so where on earth is this extra time going to come from?
If you are serious about making this big change in your life, I’m sorry to tell you that time has got to come from somewhere.
In this episode, I teach you the 5-step process for creating more time, so you can finally work for yourself. Sound good?
Without using any magic or breaking any of the laws of physics, you can start creating more time in your life by using this 5-step process:
Step #1 Reflect
Make a list of all your tasks and responsibilities at work.
You might not even be aware of all the stuff you are doing because you’ve been too busy to even stop and reflect on it!
Try one or both of these exercises to get you to stop and reflect on all the work you are currently doing.
Exercise #1 Do a brain dump.
Grab a sheet of paper or open a Word doc and write down your most common tasks, activities and responsibilities you do at work.
You might even keep that list handy for a couple of days to keep adding to it as new tasks pop up in the normal course of your day you forgot to add to your list.
Exercise #2 Track your time.
I know making a list of everything you are doing might sound overwhelming, so you might want to track how you use your time for a week using Toggl or some other time tracking app.
I recommend monitoring your time in 30-minute increments.
After tracking your time for one week, you’ll have your list of work activities with the added benefit of the average amount of time you spend working on each.
Step #2 Eliminate
Get rid of as many tasks from the list you just created as you can. Specifically, as many of your “I HAVE TO DO ITEMS” as possible.
Now take a look at your list and label each item as either:
I WANT TO DO: Activities that energize you and you enjoy performing them.
I HAVE TO DO: Activities that drain your energy. You feel you are responsible for them in some way, so you have to do them.
There are many “I HAVE TO DO” items you aren’t going to be able to eliminate from your list, but I want you to focus on the ones you do out of guilt.
You do these activities out of guilt because you feel like you are going to let someone down, you are going to look bad before your peers or you are going to get in trouble somehow.
Ever think your assumptions might be totally wrong?
The only way you are ever going to find out is by having the conversations you’ve been avoiding.
From my personal experience, these conversations go much better than the scenario you are imagining in your head.
Next, trim your list of work activities down to your core responsibilities.
No more, no less. Don’t do too little to get fired, but don’t kill yourself to try to get ahead in the company anymore either. That’s not longer your goal.
You are still doing stuff that is no longer vital to your job, your team or even your company. I guarantee you!
You don’t realize it because you haven’t given yourself the time or permission to reflect on all of your responsibilities.
Once again, all it takes is a simple conversation with your manager to review your most crucial activities and eliminate the rest.
A final piece of advice for eliminating work tasks: every week I challenge myself to completely remove two items on my to-do list and not take any action on them.
Even if it’s stuff I want to do. Why?
We are always giving ourselves more work than we have time for, yours truly included. I swear I just make up stuff sometimes.
You need to vigorously challenge yourself to make sure you are focused on tasks that are in alignment with your goals. In your case, that’s becoming self-employed.
Step #3 Automate
Using technology and habits to take over your routine tasks by automating them.
There are 3 areas of your work life perfect for automation:
Any repeatable tasks like scheduling meetings, publishing content, errands or any information you regularly need to make decisions in your job should be automated.
If you are wondering if there’s a way to automate one of your work tasks, just ask Google. Seriously!
Anytime I find myself doing a repeatable task, I search to see if someone’s made an app for it yet! More often than not, someone has!
Another area in your work life ripe for automation is any paper process. Look for the paper trail and automate it.
Turn Decisions Into Habits
Automation is really about reducing the number of decisions you make in the course of a day, so you can conserve your energy for new challenges.
Identify sets of related tasks throughout your work day and turn them into habits.
For example, I’ve turned my entire morning routine into a set of habits. I honestly don’t make any decisions the first 2 hours of my day. All of my actions have been automated. I’m basically a robot.
I drink a full glass of water to trigger the beginning of my stretching routine. I eat the exact same breakfast every day. As I finish each activity it provides a cue to begin the next habit in my routine.
Consciously turning more and more of my life into sets of habits has made me far more productive and freed up more of my time to do the stuff I really want to do.
Step #4 Delegate
Ask for help, don’t just pass off your work to someone else.
As you’ve accumulated responsibilities in your job, I’m sure there are a few of them you’ve out grown. It’s time to hand them off to a more junior member of your team eager for more responsibility.
Delegating doesn’t just mean passing off your responsibilities to someone else, it means asking for help.
Now you might not fully be able to delegate some of your responsibilities, but you could also look for ways to share it with someone else, reducing the burden on you.
Every time you are asked to take on a new responsibility, challenge yourself to delegate one of your existing responsibilities.
When you take on a new responsibility, one gets delegated, so that way you don’t get overwhelmed trying to do more and more work.
Step #5 Schedule
Assign chunks of time to specific tasks. Especially, scheduling time to figure out how to work for yourself!
So hopefully, you’ve trimmed down your list of work activities by this point in the process. Now let’s get the remaining items completed more productively by conserving your mental energy by scheduling them.
Now let’s get the remaining items completed more productively by scheduling related tasks together to conserve your mental energy.
Energy is used up each time your brain has to switch between even the simplest of tasks. In fact, studies have shown it takes the brain an average of 23 minutes to refocus after each interruption!
For example, each time you react to a ding from your phone to check an alert, valuable mental calories are burned that could have been allocated to your most important work. You also lose time refocusing your brain back to the task at hand.
Here are some ways you can start assigning specific tasks to specific chunks of time throughout your day:
- Schedule meetings on certain days, so you have some meeting-free days for your most important work that requires deep thought.
- Limit phone calls to certain times of the day.
- Turn off all your communication devices to create “distraction-free time”.
- In your personal life, schedule a specific time to do your house chores, grocery shopping and errands, so you can focus on them less frequently throughout the week.
Even when you finally do start working for yourself, using this 5-step process to create more time becomes even more important because then you are responsible for how you use each and every minute of your time!
Share your story!
My final and most important piece of advice to you about creating more time is this: you need to tell your story.
You need to share your goals with as many people in your life as possible.
The more you are able to do that, the more they are going to be sensitive to your time. They’ll be more conscious about asking you for favors.
Heck, they might even ask you how they can help you save more time, so you can work on your goals!
Creating time is really a self-reflection exercise.
When’s the last time you stopped and asked yourself, “Am I using my time in a way that is helping me accomplish my goals?”
I hope you will do that for yourself and real soon!
“If there is something you want to do badly enough, you’ll find a way to create time for it.”
“Being productive means using your time intentionally.”
“Eliminate anything you are doing on your to-do list out of guilt.”
“Automate as many of your routine tasks as possible to gain more control over your time.”