Do you remember the last time you had “too” much time on your hands?

Me neither.

Are you a juggler? Lots of balls in the air? Plenty of irons in the fire? Or more bluntly, lots going on at once?

Me too. Regardless of what’s going on in your life, there NEVER seems to be enough time.

Doesn’t matter if you’re married. Single. With children. Without. Studying. Working. Training. Ask people what they want more of, and time is right up there.

And it seems to get more limited the older you get.

So here’s a couple of hacks I’ve picked up lately to save 2 hours a day.

Let me start by saying there are experts in this field, and I’m not one of them. What I am is a mum with 2 kids under 5, and a shift working husband. I work full time and have a side-hustle.

Do I have enough time now? Absolutely not. But I am getting more done than before. Here’s how.

Set realistic goals. I know, not everyone likes goals. But not having a goal is like trying to drive to a friends’ place without taking the time to find out where they live. You wouldn’t do that, so why put yourself through the torture of trying to attain some lofty aspiration that’s vague and unrealistic? Google “SMART goals” and get some down on paper. And want to do something even braver? Share your goals with someone else. It takes courage to put yourself out there. You might do it. You might not. But telling someone means you’re accountable to at least one other person on the planet. You also now have someone to talk to about how you’re going – when you’re making progress, and what you can do if you’re not.

Spend time doing things you actually like doing and dump the rest. Years ago I was juggling post grad study and a corporate job. I was also training for triathlons. Anyone who’s done a tri knows the training load is practically another part time job. I found myself complaining to my mum that I had no time to do anything properly. She gently asked “Are you still doing what makes you happy?” It was only then I stopped to reflect and realised I wasn’t really enjoying triathlons as much as I used to. The novelty was gone. And honestly, I wasn’t very good at it. So I made the call to stop. Spend just a little time reflecting on what your activities, week in, week out. Still enjoy those salsa classes? Great, carry on. Doing a regular activity because you’ve always done it, but it’s not doing it for you anymore? Then stop. There’s no harm in calling it a day. The time you get back is priceless.

Break down big ticket projects. Big ticket projects can personal (like buying a house) or related to your work (like delivering a client project, rebuilding a website, or creating a new line of products or services). The more at stake, the greater the risk of overwhelm. To keep it real, try breaking down large projects into small components. Get as granular as you like. And yes, it’ll be a long list, but it’ll give you a better sense of the tasks ahead, and an opportunity to prioritise and plan.

Make your to-do list visual. I’m super grateful to whoever it was on Facebook that gave me this idea. I bought a little whiteboard from Officeworks that sits at my desk. I then got a bunch of post it notes, and each note lists a discrete task. I number the board, and place post it-notes in order of importance on the board. I have it sitting at my desk, where I can see it all the time. I can easily change tasks around, and remove them when I’m done. I only show 12 at a time, and continually update. Of course, you can also use the whiteboard as it was intended but to me there’s something satisfying about removing the post-it note once it’s done.

Keep track of your achievements. Consider ways you can remind yourself of what you’ve done in times you’re struggling or lacking motivation. We’re self-critical beasts, and it’s easy to gravitate to focusing on what we haven’t done at the expense of what we have.

Find your sweet spot to work in. Are you a morning person? Better in the afternoon? A night owl? Whatever you are, find the time that you’re at your best, and make it work for you.

Turn off Facebook and Email when you’re doing something hard. Social media is such a trap – while it’s critical for many small businesses, it has the potential of robbing you of time in so many ways. Consciously turn it off for discrete blocks of time – that way that little red notification box won’t get in the way of actually getting stuff done (I promise the notification will still be there when you get back!)

Automate household tasks.  Use technology to help you. I set my dishwasher to start @ 4am every morning – then I can wake up to a clean set of dishes that can be unloaded and put away before the day starts. As I leave the house, the washing machine gets loaded and a delayed timer set so it’s finished and ready to be hung to dry that night. We use online shopping for groceries – makes it easy to order goods on the go, and have a regular delivery time.  Mind you, not everything works as well as I’d like. We’ve got one of those robo cleaners as well, but alas, the dog got a little overzealous with it so it’s been retired.

Pick your clothes for the week ahead of time. I suck at getting ready in the morning. I agonise over what to wear – I find it hard enough to find clothes that match, but then you’ve got to bring together shoes and jewellery. Now I spend 30 minutes on Sunday sorting out my outfit for the week ahead, and then putting them into my cupboard in order. Makes it much easier in the morning, which is important when you’re trying to get a 2 and 4 year old off to daycare by yourself.

Use any of the millions of apps out there designed to help your life. For me I use Evernote heaps to keep track of interesting articles. There’s also Trello, Workflow and Any.do.

And there you have it.  10 ways to get more out of your time.

It’s limited.

Make it count.

How do you make the most of your time? I’d love to know!

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