When someone says they “don’t have enough time,” what they really mean is they don’t have time for the stuff they really want or need to do. But in the end, it’s always a matter of reorganization. Nobody can create more time out of thin air. We’re all limited to a fixed 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. But in 2019, you can actually you have more time to do the things you want each week by taking a different approach to choices about how you allocate your hours.
Here are some time-saving tips from leading time-management coaches who work with clients around the world.
The new year is a perfect time to reevaluate what you’re doing and why, and then cut out activities and commitment that no longer make sense. One of the quickest, easiest ways to reclaim your time in 2019 is to walk away from something. Quit a recurring meeting. Quit a committee. Quit Instagram. Quit Candy Crush. Quit a leadership role. Quit a program. Just stop. A lot of these responsibilities can easily eat up two hours every week, if not more. By removing them from your life, you immediately open up space.
There are instances where you can’t or don’t want to eliminate activities from your life entirely. But you can make room in your schedule by setting firmer boundaries around them so you have time for the stuff that really matters. For instance, you might put a cap on time devoted to email by checking it three times a day only rather than continually having it open. Or you could reduce your use of smartphone apps to a set number of minutes each day. Try placing a deadline on how late you stay at work, or cut back on the hours watching Netflix.
Even limiting personal practices like this by half an hour each day leads to 3.5 extra hours every week and 14 hours per month. That in turn creates time for stuff like exercise, reading, more sleep, or getting more important/priority work done.
The sense that you don’t have a single moment to stop and catch a breathe can be a significant factor in feeling time-poor. The cure is simply to give yourself permission to take a break.
Simple changes can make this possible: eating lunch away from your computer screen can enhance a sense of peace and space, even if you only leave your desk for 10 minutes. Likewise, taking a walk in the middle of the day breaks up the routine and can seem like a little “treat.” Or giving yourself permission to complete a personal task or errand during your lunch break. Pausing for a moment to re-assert your ability to attend to non-urgent matters reduces the feeling that everything needs to happen at a frantic pace and there’s no time to slow down.
Another technique for making more time in 2019 is to delegate activities that you don’t need to manage yourself. At work, that could mean delegating to a colleague, assistant, or contractor. As you schedule your day, ask yourself: is this a task I really need to do myself, or could someone else take it? At home, that could mean asking help from your fellow household members or looking into services for things like running errands and cleaning. You can likely win back four to five hours a week by having others help.
Finally, if you’re looking for more time to do something you “never have time for,” try putting that activity first. Add an exercise class, book a trip, plan a get-together with friends—and don’t cancel it. If you prioritize the activities you really want to do, the other stuff has a way of fitting around them.
With these strategies you can gain back five, 10, or even 15 hours each week to reallocate toward what matters most to you in the New Year.