Oh, what we wouldn't do for an extra hour (or two) in our running-at-the-speed-of-light day. If you schedule your week in advance, pay close attention to how you are spending your time in the first place, and delegate, delegate, delegate (hello, offspring!) it's easy to carve out some time for the person who needs it the most: you.
1. Use your commute time. I'm not a huge fan of multi-tasking, but using your commute time for something else is an exception. This can be a great time to do a mindfulness meditation practice: use the time you spend to get to work to simply hear, feel and notice the details around you. You could also use this time to plan out your day, make a phone call, or listen to a book.
2. Plan your week in advance and cut out any meetings, appointments, calls, tasks or events that are not absolutely necessary. (Remember, if your RSVP is not an enthusiastic "hell yeah!" then make it a confident, but polite, "No thank you!")
3. Circle any tasks on your to do list that you can delegate. (And then do it!) Sometimes, it just feels easier to do things ourselves. But if you can get in the habit of asking other people (colleagues, partners, roommates, etc.) to lighten your load where possible, you will be thankful you did.
4. Keep a time diary to figure out how you are spending your time. Do you spend an unnecessary 90 minutes a day checking Facebook, Twitter, or your email? Your laptop, smartphone, or computer vortex can suck you in and swallow you whole for an hour before it spits you back out and you realize that you even left. Spend one day writing down how you spend your time; it might surprise you.
5. Check your email at designated times each day. You'll save a tremendous amount of time if you check your email four times a day, or even every hour instead of every 15 minutes. Ask yourself: How often do I really need to check and respond to email?
6. Consolidate your errands. Write down the errands that you usually complete each week (pharmacy, grocery, drycleaners, bank, etc) and make a schedule that saves time. Complete all of your errands on one day, or make Monday the "close to work" errands and Tuesday the "close to home" errands.
7. Cut down on a bit of your TV time. Pay attention to how much time you spend watching TV each week. Do you really need to log in fourteen hours a week in front of the tube? Cutting out even just a little of that time can free up extra hours for reading, relaxing, exercising, spending time with friends or family, or just doing nothing.
8. Eliminate unnecessary social media time. Again, write it down and keep track. How much time do you spend every day on social media? Is that really necessary? I recently stopped checking Facebook every day...it was a habit more than anything else. Do I feel like I am missing something? Nope. Do I have more time do other things? Absolutely.
9. Teach your kids to help out with household chores. My favorite strategy is the trash bag trick: Every couple of days, I take a big plastic trash bag and tell my kids that whatever toys are left on the floor are going in the We're Giving This Away Bag. They clean up pretty quickly.
10. Wake up early to read the paper in peace, exercise, or meditate. (In this case: Do as I say, not as I do.) I have a very hard time waking up early to do anything without feeling exhausted by the end of the day. I enjoy the peace and quiet in the morning, but I do feel the lack of sleep later. However, this tip works really well for a lot of people. If you can get yourself out of bed early, the time is all yours!
(Image: The Browns' Cottage Novella House Tour)