So you can focus on what matters.
Charles Darwin said that “a man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Goethe said that “every second is of infinite value.” And Seneca stated, simply, “value your time.”
But how do we preserve this most precious resource in our “always on” era? How can we achieve our goals if clients, colleagues, friends, and family expect us to respond instantaneously to texts, emails, and DMs? Even outside the digital realm, how can we carve out more time amidst commutes, jobs, and family obligations?
There are countless articles and tools for planning out your calendar to ensure you get your to do list done. But this article isn’t about that. Instead, it suggests ways to reduce the to do list in the first place. And it includes a simple decisional mechanism that trims the secondary considerations that sidetrack us. Try these three steps to create more time for yourself in 2020.
1. Bucketize your life
Try establishing a few buckets of things that truly matter to you. And be ruthless about saying no to anything that falls outside those buckets.
I’ve developed four buckets. They start with “M” so I can remember them: (1) Mommy — taking care of my children and myself, (2) Money — maximizing the amount of money I can make, including through multiple streams of income, (3) Muscle — exercising, and (4) Music — singing and playing piano to keep those skill sets alive.
Having this structure helps me decide whether to commit to something. If it doesn’t fall into one of the four buckets, it’s a no. And when things come up that fall into one bucket, but conflict with another, it’s still a no. Like last night. A bandleader asked me if I could stop by a new year’s party and sing a few songs. Gratis. Sure, this falls into the “music” bucket. But it conflicted with the “mommy” and “money” bucket — I wanted to ring the new year in with my kids, and I was not about to miss that to sing for free for someone.
My buckets might change over time. But for now, I have structure so that I can easily identify whether an “ask” matches my priorities and avoid wasting time if it doesn’t.
2. Delegate two things
Everyone has stuff they hate or don’t have time to do. It is amazing how much time and focus you can recapture for yourself if you delegate two things.
For me, it’s cleaning the house and doing laundry. I decided years ago to hire a housecleaner. It isn’t cheap, but it is probably less expensive than the time I’d lose cleaning the house. I also told my family (recently) that everyone has to do their own laundry. That one seems like a no brainer. But for me, it was difficult to let go of the conditioning telling me that I had to make sure my kids’ clothes are clean, folded, and ready for the week. It’s not that hard to load a washing machine.
3. Carry cash
Paying for things using debit cards has exponentially increased the time it takes to balance a checkbook. Carry cash and you’ll reduce the number of card transactions to be recorded. It sounds like a small thing, but over the course of a year, it adds up.
These are just a few things I’ll be doing to save time in 2020. I hope they work for you too. And I’d be interested in hearing your tips and tricks in the comments. Happy New Year!