Perfect timingRework your to-do list and make more time for you with Lifecoach Samantha McDonald's tips to maximizing the hours in your day

How many times in the past month have you found yourself saying, "I'd love to, but I just don't have the time"? Quite a few, hey? It seems there's never enough time for work, rest and play, and all those things we'd like to do, just never get done. And, yet, didn't someone once say that, if you need something done, give it to a busy person?

The problem with being busy is that that's exactly what we focus on - being busy. And then we end up feeling overwhelmed, tired and run-down because all we can see is the activity and energy it's taking to get anywhere, and we feel like we're on a running treadmill and about to fall off.

So, how can you have time for absolutely everything? Firstly, you need to look at how you really spend your time. Buy a small journal and log every one of your activities for one whole week. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it's definitely worth it. My bet is that you'll find a whole heap of things written down there that weren't absolutely necessary and you'll probably be surprised by how much time you actually (dare I say it) waste.

It might also be interesting to note your energy levels each day. Are you most effective at seven in the morning, or are you someone who works best late into the night? This may give you an idea of how to schedule your time. For instance, if you're an energizer bunny first thing in the morning, perhaps it's best to jump out of bed for a morning walk rather than trying to drag yourself back out of the house when you get home from work.

Apart from your journal, invest in a nice new diary. It doesn't matter whether it's a traditional diary or one of the electronic varieties. It just matters that you can take it with you wherever you go. I'll show you why.

Gym

Ah, yes. Unless we make exercise a huge priority, most people find that their well-intentioned idea of hitting the gym on a regular basis just doesn't happen. You may be too busy, too tired, or simply can't get away from the kids. But, all is not lost.

Get out that trusty diary of yours and schedule three one- hour sessions of exercise for the following week. I know that might sound like a lot, especially if you've previously come up with every excuse under the sun not to exercise, but scheduling can really help. And, even better, if you schedule your exercise for the whole of the next month, you're unconsciously telling yourself that exercise is a huge priority for you, and it will be done! The trick here, though, is to use a highlighter to emphasise your exercise time, so that no other tasks sneak in and take up its space. Make exercise a priority. You know you'll feel much better afterwards.

Friends

Thank goodness for email and Facebook, or most of us would never catch up with our friends! Again, it's great to have good intentions but, unless you actually make time to catch up with the people you love hanging around, months or even years can slip by!

So, stop throwing that old line around - the one that goes something like, "Oh yes, let's catch up soon". Get out your trusty diary and make sure your friend does the same, and plan a get-together. If you have heaps of people you'd like to catch up with, get a group together. Organise with your friends to make these catch-ups a regular occurrence - say, once every two months - and make it worth it by having a really great time!

Partner

So, you spend more time reminiscing about the way things used to be with your partner than actually re-creating those beautiful romantic, lustful times? It's easy to get side-tracked with work and family commitments, and even more so if you have children. Schedule a date night once a week or once a fortnight. Or make a pact that you both sit down and have dinner together every night, and ban talking about work. Or spend half an hour every night once the kids have gone to bed talking about your future as a couple or a family, and dreaming about the lovely things that lie ahead.

Scour the holiday pages of the local paper for ideas on places you might like to visit together. You don't need to book a three-week jaunt to Fiji - although that would be mighty fine! Sometimes, staying overnight in a hotel in your city can ignite those passions perfectly!

Work

Now, work can be a tricky one. It's generally where we spend the majority of our waking hours, and we never seem to get everything finished by five o'clock, but the truth is that there are probably periods of time within each working day where we're not being as productive as we could be. And then, on the other end of the stick, we may feel so overwhelmed by the momentous task of finishing everything we need to do, that we end up with a case of analysis paralysis – it all just ends up in the 'too hard basket'.

So, create a to-do list for yourself at the beginning of the working week. Put absolutely everything on it, and then go through and highlight the tasks that are absolutely necessary in order for you to get a promotion, look good, or to simply keep your job. Then break your to-do list into different days. If it absolutely needs to be done on Monday, put it in that date. If it can wait until you have some time on Wednesday, that's where it belongs. If you want to go even further, you can start blocking out time in your diary to get these big tasks done. You can even block out times for answering emails or taking phone calls, if your job allows. That way, you won't be constantly interrupted whilst trying to tick off everything else on your list.

Self

How true it is that me-time seems to come at the end of a list. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to continue that way! The truth is, if we don't nurture who we are, and take some time out, we end up overwhelmed and unhappy, and no good to anyone!

So, put your thinking cap on and think of two things you'd like to do just for you this week. Perhaps a massage or a hair-cut? Or, if that's being a little too ambitious, how about a 10-minute meditation or a bubble bath, or reading three chapters of that great new girly novel before bed? Once you've decided, whip out that trusty best friend of yours - the diary - and blank out some times. I've mentioned making time for two things but, hey, if you can see a few extra slots waiting to be filled, you might as well fill them with things that you want to do.

The facts are plain and simple. You really can find time to do everything you want to do, as long as you prioritise and make yourself available to do those things. If you find your week full of things that don't make you happy or that you dread doing, get rid of them! Take a broom and sweep it through your schedule, and start again. Remember, this is about you and what you want. And, if you want to have enough time for everything, you will!

8 ways to save time

  • Get up half an hour earlier
  • Make lunch the night before
  • Use travel time for thinking
  • Keep a list of things to do
  • Walk with a friend - girly chats and exercise!
  • Iron on the weekends instead of in the morning
  • Answer emails twice a day instead of every five minutes
  • Delegate the small jobs

Samantha McDonald
www.darecoaching.com.au


Once you've found a few more hours in each day, follow these tips to boost your happiness. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more fitness tips and advice.