This everyday challenge is stopping you again and again.

29 May

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image19385242Whenever I speak to women about what is stopping them from achieving their goals, the number one answer is lack of time.

These are the the kind of things I hear:

‘I want to change career, but I just don’t have the time to retrain’.

‘I would love to do more exercise, but I can’t fit it in’.

‘I want to write a book/create an ecourse/revamp my website, but I’m just too busy right now’.

This perceived lack of time can keep us stuck in a place we don’t want to be. It can keep us stuck feeling less healthy than we want to be. It can keep us paralysed in our business or career. It can prevent us from living the truly fulfilling life we want to live.

This one challenge comes up every single day, stopping us in small ways and big ways.

Have you ever found yourself saying to a friend on the phone or when you bump into her on the street, ‘Can’t stop, I haven’t got time!’

Or maybe you’ve turned down an event you want to go to as you feel you’re too busy?

I personally can think of an opportunity that I was offered recently where I would have to step up out of my comfort zone. My first thought wasn’t, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’, it was ‘I’m not sure if I have enough time’.

(By the way, sometimes, we can use lack of time as an excuse to mask an underlying lack of self-belief.)

The fact is when you feel time-pressured, it’s a major cause of stress. When you feel that you don’t have enough time in the day, you are heading for burnout.

The good news is that there are some simple ways to overcome the time challenge. Here’s what to do when you are feeling time-pressured.

1) Prioritise (aka cut the crap!)

Have a think about your day today. What are you spending your time doing?

Now I know a lot of the stuff you are doing is super-important and necessary (like reading this fabulous article!). But if you are honest, how much of your time is spent doing stuff that just doesn’t matter?

How much time do you spend checking Facebook or email? How much time do you spend watching crappy TV programmes? How much time do you spend procrastinating about what to do next?

Now I can hold my hands up to all of the above! The truth is you have plenty of time to do all the things you want to do (truly). You simply need to focus on your priorities.

Ask yourself the question – ‘What is most important to me?’

Make a list, with your highest priority at the top.

Now you have something to work with. You can clearly see what means most to you and where you want to spend your time.

Each day, focus on the top three priorities on your list. This is now your guide. Whenever you find yourself feeling time-pressured, ask yourself, ‘Am I spending my time wisely right now? Am I focusing on my priorities?’

If the answer is no, let go of what you are doing.

This might take practice, but in time you will find yourself experiencing more space and fulfilment in your life.

Take action now: Make your priority list! Tune in to what’s truly important to you and then think about where you are spending your time right now. You might be surprised to realise that most of your time is being spent on crap (to be frank!) that’s just not meaningful for you.

2) Change your time story

We all perceive time in a particular way. I’m sure you’ve noticed that some people are laid-back and easy-going, never in a rush. Whereas others are always dashing from one place to the next, feeling pressured and stressed.

Which are you?

Your time story (or mindset) will certainly have been influenced by how your family were growing up. I know for me, we always had to be on time, if not early. In fact, if I get to a meeting just on time now, I feel like I’m late!

Like any aspect of your mindset though, this isn’t set in stone. You can create a shift in the way you experience time. You can change your time story.

The first thing to do is to mind your language. Notice any times when you find yourself saying things like, ‘I haven’t got time’, ‘I’m too busy’, or ‘Where does the time go?’ (Big hands up to this one for me!)

When we make statements like this, we are reinforcing the story that there is not enough time.

Start telling yourself a different story.

The next time you begin to say, ‘I haven’t got time’, catch yourself, take a deep breath and say, ‘I have all the time I need’. As you do that, notice how you feel different.

Like any time we start to change our mindset, it might feel strange at first. There will be occasions when you don’t catch yourself and start talking your ‘too busy/can’t stop/must dash’ chat. That’s okay. This is a process.

The first step is to recognise when you are telling yourself an unhelpful time story and the next step is to start shifting it.

Take action now: For the next 24 hours, commit to telling yourself a different time story. Look out for those times when you’re thinking or speaking negatively about time. When you catch yourself, change your story. Say something different.

3) Chunk it baby!

Have you ever noticed how time can seem to slip away? You might have a whole day or week ahead of you. You think about all the things you’re going to get done. Then somehow, you don’t end up achieving half as much as you wanted to.

Alternatively, you might have a busy day or week coming up. You have something you really want to get done, but you just can’t see how you’re going to squeeze it in as it’s going to take a substantial amount of time.

Chunking can help with both of these scenarios. What I mean by chunking is carving out specific ‘chunks’ of time to focus on a particular task.

Here are some examples.

If I have a whole free day ahead of me, I can easily drift aimlessly from one thing to another, never getting anything done. However, if I say I am going to spend 45 minutes writing an article or 30 minutes working on my website, I will be super-focused during that chunk of time.

I might faff around for the rest of the day, but I will do what I need to get done in my designated chunks.

In the same way, when I have a busy week ahead of me, for example when I’m travelling to work with clients on retreat, I can still carve out small chunks of time to write or create.

By using these manageable chunks of time, I feel productive and much less overwhelmed.

So, over to you. Where can you chunk your time to achieve what you want to? The key is to keep them manageable – certainly no more than one hour.

Take action now: Think about something you want to get done over the next week. Schedule some chunks of time in your diary now when you will work on this particular task. Notice how good it feels to be taking control and planning for action.

These are my top time transformation tips! I’d love you to comment below and let me know which one resonates with you most. Which one will you be taking action on first?

If you would like some extra help managing your time, I am running a free Get It Done Challenge in June.  Click here for all the details and to join us.

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