Finding extra time

Ever feel like there’s just not enough time in the day? Life today is so fast paced and instant that you’re constantly being pulled in a thousand different directions and you think if I just had one more hour every day I could do it.

This is exactly how I feel now that September has started, except it’s not just one hour but more like three or four extra hours in a day. I wish! When I realised I was completely collapsing every day and only half of my daily to do list was getting finished I knew I needed some changes. 

While we can’t exactly add more time to the day, we can make the most of it and the best way to do that is get organised, especially with a new school year starting, new commitments and new activities. The first thing I did was make a list of everything I’m currently doing from work, Uni projects, blogging, any trips, literally anything I could think of. I needed to get realistic about my time and what I could actually commit to. 

First thing I noticed was my work schedule, I was working all the weekends! Needless to say this was way too much with term time starting back up again, so I made the choice to quit my second job to free up some evenings and weekends. Sending that email was the biggest relief because I suddenly got extra hours of my life back to focus on different priorities (like blogging, yay!). 

After freeing up all that time and destroying my routine for the last two months, I decided to start from scratch and get organised with a fresh calendar. Most importantly I scheduled all my courses from September to December then added in dissertation deadlines in permanent marker, these could not be “re-prioritised.” And luckily I have a flexible job that allows me to move my hours to accommodate my course so I added that in surrounding my courses. 

Once I had the bulk time slots filled, I had to figure out where the “extra” commitments could go, when was I going to blog, walk Kendall, do yoga, or read a book and did I leave enough time to cook, shower and have me time? Once listing all these little things I started to realise where I could save time. The train was a big one, I spend at least three hours a week on the train where I normally just people watch or scroll through Instagram. I decided to use this normally wasted time as my reading time so I can finally read that book I’ve been dying to open. 

And what about Kendall, yoga and blogging? These are all the most flexible so I decided to schedule them on a weekly basis around my newly set schedule. Some weeks I might have time for yoga three days a week and another week might only be once because I want to take Kendall for a hike or a new assignment comes up and that’s fine. There comes a time when you realise you can’t do it all and you need to accept that and decide what your real priorities are. 

So what are my tips to finding extra time and making the most of your time?

1. Prioritise your tasks
This could be monthly, weekly or even daily but regardless make sure you know what you’re focusing on and stick with it. 

2. Use a calendar or diary
It doesn’t matter where you put it but get it out there and on paper so you can see what you need to do and when you can realistically do it. If you have multiple commitments and schedules, make a way to combine calendars to make sure there’s no overlap. For example, if you plan out a month of blogs on one calendar, add the time it’s going to take on your main calendar to see if it’s possible and realistic

3. Get organised
Don’t just have an organised calendar but focus on organising your surroundings as well. If you know where everything is before you go to get it you’re going to save time on that task, then if you need to search the house top to bottom and waste twenty minutes in the process. 

4. Be realistic
I know I mentioned this throughout, but it’s so important. You can be the most organised person in the world and still be completely unrealistic with your time. 

5. Break larger tasks or projects into smaller chunks
This is particularly useful for students, for example with my dissertation. It’s one thing to write the due date and say it’s on the calendar and another to set deadlines for each chapter and progress meetings, even think about proofreading days, drop off times. All these little things can be divided so you’re not overwhelmed when you suddenly see the due date and think of all the things you haven’t done. 

6. Make the most of your wasted time
For me this was the train, but maybe you have an hour lunch break and it only takes you twenty minutes to eat, go for a walk and enjoy you time. Or you have ten minutes between meetings or classes, take out your diary and remind yourself of todays priorities or better yet, write it down! 

7. Determine when you’re most productive and utilise that time
There’s nothing beneficial about planning all your tasks for the morning if you know you’re not a morning person and it will take twice as long because you’re still half asleep. Personally, I love planning the bulk of my day 9am-1pm and I know for a fact that 3-4pm and 7-8pm are the slowest parts of productivity, which means I normally take a late lunch and cook dinner around 7pm. Everybody’s habits are different, you just need to find what works for you and plan accordingly. 

8. Take time to recharge
I admit this can be difficult for some but personally it’s my favourite part of day and probably the only same part of my routine I’ve had in the last four years. I’ve done the same two things since starting my undergrad, wake up at least fifteen minutes earlier so I can just sit, relax and think about nothing. And then at the end of the day, nothing happens after 9pm, that’s the cut off point, if it’s not done by then it’s not getting finished because that’s when my productivity stops. 

What are your favourite ways to save time and add a few extra hours to your busy week? 

Read this post and other stories on Staci’s personal blog

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