Those four little words...
I hear it all the time from people who are drowning in a sea of ever-growing to-dos and the pressure of juggling their family, friends and work. Those four little words that many of us utter (or scream inwardly) several times a day: “I don’t have time”.
“I don’t have time” for exercise.
“I don’t have time” to cook nourishing meals.
“I don’t have time” to sit quietly and take five deep breaths when the kids are driving me nuts.
“I don’t have time” to call the friend I haven’t spoken to for 6 months.
“I don’t have time” to get organised.
I completely understand this response. When we’re feeling frazzled and our patience is wearing thin, we can truly feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Saying "I don't have time" let's us off the hook. But here's the thing that can be difficult to hear when you're feeling exhausted and overwhelmed (and I say this with kindness, not judgement): how you spend your time is a choice.
There’s a suggestion floating around the interwebs: try replacing “I don’t have time” with “that’s not a priority”. Try that on for size and see if it alters your perspective.
And then there’s the whole “when you say ‘yes’ to something you’re saying ‘no’ to something else” thing (usually mooted the other way round, but it works either way). Does that help you to think differently about how you’re choosing to spend your time?
When it comes to productivity, many of us can be guilty of thinking that if we get our heads down and keep battling on through our to-do list we’ll eventually create some time and space to sort things out. But does that ever really happen? In my experience, as soon as we cross something off the list it’s replaced by something else.
There’s never going to be the perfect time to stop and take stock of what you’ve got going on in your life. Never the optimal moment to get organised.
I’m not going to lie: digging yourself out of the chaos might not be pretty. But here’s what you can do to help get you started:
1) Accept that something needs to change. If you keep doing the same things in the same way, you’re going to keep getting the same results (stress, overwhelm, exhaustion, frustration). Understand that once you’ve taken steps towards getting things back under control, you’ll experience less stress and more ease in all areas of your life.
2) Clear a space in your calendar. Put a few hours aside and then protect that space as if it were a meeting with a client or your boss. That may mean making a sacrifice or saying no to something else. But this is important and is worth your time. It NEEDS your time.
3) When the time arrives, start by thinking about the big picture. Don’t get caught up in the minutiae just yet. Instead ask yourself what’s most important to you in life. What are your priorities? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Get fit and healthy? Grow your business? Get really clear on your ‘why’ and use this to guide you. These big picture priorities will shift as you go through life, so it’s good to get into the habit of asking yourself these questions regularly.
4) Then start thinking about what you need to do to get your shizzle together in a way that supports those bigger picture intentions. Write down the steps you need to take to feel more in control. For example. need to set some boundaries around your working hours? What would that look like in reality? Write it down. Then block out time in your calendar to ensure you follow through.
Making the changes you identify as important might not be quick or easy, but give yourself credit for making a start. You might feel some anxiety about the things you should be doing whilst you’re working through this process. That’s normal. But just think of the clarity and calm that you’ll experience as a result of tackling this stuff. Imagine being able to start each day with intention, knowing that you've allowed for the things that matter to you most.
So stop telling yourself, “I don’t have time”. It won’t happen unless you MAKE the time. Give yourself permission to Invest in your own sanity and wellbeing, or you’ll never break the cycle.
I promise it will be worth it.
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