True Confession of an Author

03/10/2015 03:41 pm ET | Updated May 10, 2015
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I'm a little embarrassed to admit it but my own book changed my life in the past few weeks.

You see, in general, I'm a pretty balanced, happy person who works 40-45 hours per week so that she has plenty of time for friends, family, time outside, exercise, and self reflection.

However, starting at the beginning of January, I began to feel off kilter. My hours crept up to around 50 per week, which isn't a crazy amount to work. But since I'm committed to investing time in a number of relationships and am involved in my church and community, that increase meant that other than exercise, time for self-care and reflection got squeezed out.

At first, I didn't pay much attention to what was happening and told myself, "It's just a busy season with my new book coming out." I didn't want to judge myself and have a false sense of guilt for working more hours if the root cause was truly just a special, infrequent project that would come to a close within a finite amount of time.

But by the beginning of February, I noticed that I was starting to feel anxious (a sign that you're taking on too much and have lost perspective) and I also noticed some resentment (a sign that you need to take care of yourself). Neither one of these feelings felt good and they were sapping my joy from my work, which I typically find extremely fulfilling.

Then on Feb. 5, I had a flash of insight as I lay awake in bed, struggling to go to sleep (not a common issue for me) that I needed to apply the principles of How to Invest Your Time Like Money to my own life. Fancy that! The thing was that in the past, I had developed my schedule and gotten a structure in place that supported my goal of having a peaceful, productive, and successful life. But I needed to re-visit my structure in light of the growth of my business and the release of my new book.

So I did, and here's what it looked like to apply the principles from each one of the chapters to my own life.

Chapter 1: Take Control of Your Time and Your Life

I thought about the three barriers to success covered in this chapter and realized that I needed to address the barrier of "disconnect success from suffering." I am good at doing this with my overall day-to-day operations of my business, but I had fallen into the trap of settling for the false belief that "life just has to be crazy busy when you're working on a big project like a book." The first step to change was having hope that I could successfully prepare for my book release and not feel anxious or stressed about work.

Chapter 2: Identify Your Time Debt

The important next step was whittling down my hours and commitments so I had a little more room for personal time and so I didn't feel anxious about getting everything done. Yes, I do have more project work at this time due to the book launch, but when I stopped to really think about it, I had the ability to gain back an hour or more of time each day with a few small tweaks. Those included being more decisive and focused with my daily processing time of e-mail, papers, etc. and setting better boundaries around call times. That included making sure that I was wrapping up calls on time and also being careful to ask for background information to see if I could answer something by e-mail prior to agreeing to a call. I also decided to not proceed with a potential project that would have taken 12-15 hours of my time.

Chapter 3: Create a Base Schedule

I already had a base schedule of how my life fits together, but given the increase in my client load and the release of a new book, I needed to revisit it. I re-clarified how much time I wanted to spend in each area of my business. Then I started to more closely monitor my actual time investment against it and to be more rigorous in what I was saying, yes, and, no, to going forward.

Chapter 4: Set Up Automatic Time Investment

I've already got a lot of solid routines in place, as would be expected :) and right now my main focus outside of my clients is the book release. But in the coming months, I'll be giving more of my business development activities a standing place on my monthly calendar.

Chapter 5: Maximize Your Time ROI

Since my re-awakening to the beauty of my own methodologies, I have had even greater clarity on the activities that are the highest investment of my time and aimed to put as much time into those as possible and cut time in other areas. I've also focused on embracing my imperfection and doing what I can do instead of allowing any negative self talk about "what I should have done" hold me back.

Epilogue: Remember What You're Working For

When I really stopped to think about what I wanted to experience more of in my life, it was about the simple things: more time with God, with family and friends, to be outside, to exercise, and to just be the happy, joyful, peaceful person that I am. Getting that radical clarity on what would truly fulfill my soul made all the things I was so concerned about professionally just seem a lot less important.

So there you have it... the person who wrote the book, needed the book. I have a feeling that's how all great books come about.

About Real Life E®
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through training programs.

McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review is publishing her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.