I get a little crazy when I hear people tell me they don't have time to do something. That something might be starting a blog, taking a yoga class, starting a second business part-time or cleaning up their digital profile so they can look for a new job and leave the one they have been complaining about for years.
What I really hear -- every time -- is an excuse.
It's a good excuse. At least they think so. Digital, which was supposed to make our lives so much easier has ironically served to make us more time challenged than ever before. Instead of simplifying, new technology distracts, thus compounding this feeling of time deprivation, leaving us wasting even more of this precious commodity by wallowing in frustration over all that time we don't have.
It's a vicious cycle. But it can be stopped. The first thing to do is accept the fact that time is not something you "find." This is not a search and rescue mission. The time is there and in equal proportion for all of us. It's what we choose to do with our allotments.
Since we are still at the beginning of a new year and everyone is fresh with ideas as to what they want to do differently, I thought it would be timely to offer some suggestions to create the time for those ideas to manifest.
Here's a list of what has worked for me. Take note that none involve downloading yet one more App.
1. Put Down That Smart Phone.
I realize this is a radical idea in a world where most of us panic more if we misplace our phones than our wallets or our children. But perhaps I can sway you by this statistic -- the average person checks their phone 221 times a day!
Trust me when I say that I love that when I went to the wrong restaurant to meet a friend the week before Christmas I could take out my iPhone and in a flash get directions from where I was to the restaurant I was supposed to be at and only be ten minutes late. But I don't love when I catch myself mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook app or checking my email every five minutes, just because I can. That's perfectly good time I could use elsewhere that I have let slip into oblivion.
2. Get Up A Half Hour Earlier Every Day.
This might be too much for you and it's definitely not easy, especially in the dead of January when it is dark and cold outside, but it's available to you if you want. The thing I have found, especially when I am working on a project that I am passionate about, is that once you get into the habit, it becomes really easy to do. The bonus for me is that it miraculously opens up a lot more time for those other things I "just didn't have time for" before.
Email continues to be one of the most effective methods of marketing. If you are like me, you wind up with a lot flowing into your inbox each day. Unsubscribe to the ones that are time wasters for you. My rule of thumb is if they are not useful, relevant, inspiring or something I can learn from I don't want the clutter. I realize this suggestion might get me some unsubscribers -- but if that will give you one less excuse why you don't have enough time for all those things you really want to do -- unsubscribe away.
4. Use A Timer.
If you are a regular reader you know I am partial to using a good old-fashioned analog egg timer to parcel out my time. In fact I am using one right now as I type. I find it an indispensable tool for time creation.
Let's say the most extra time you can come up with right now to start that new business while working your day job is a half hour a day. Setting the timer for thirty minutes and not doing anything but working on the idea during that slot will get you a lot closer towards taking that to fruition. It takes discipline -- but it works!
5. Turn Off The Alerts!
You really don't need to get an alert every time Aunt Agatha likes a photo on Facebook. You don't need your email to be flying across the screen while you are trying to finish up that big presentation. And you really don't need to be on alert when Macy's takes another 20% off those shoes you've been eyeing since November when you could be writing a chapter in that novel you keep saying you are going to write.
Turn them off -- as in close out of the program! These are all distractions that take you off task and instead of creating time, contribute to wasting it.
6. Use Your DVR.
I am not going to suggest getting rid of your television. Personally, I like my shows and as a writer, I can justify it as story line research. But even if you can't and it is just your guilty pleasure, there is no need to watch anything live anymore save for the news, sports events or awards shows.
My friends who still sell television advertising will hate me for this, but use your DVR. Watch when you want and commercial free. Each half hour of television includes approximately ten minutes of commercials. Two hours commercial free and you have just created forty minutes of time to do one of those things you say you have no time for.
7. Be Bold And Try A Digital Detox
This was the subject of a HuffPost Live segment I was a part of last week. The first time I went on a digital detox was in 2010. I blogged about on my own blog and a summary appeared in Forbes. It's not for the faint of heart but it will prove to you -- if nothing else that you have a lot more time than you thought.
8. Think Outside The Box
You're going to get overwhelmed. We all do. But rather than letting it get the best of you, throwing your hands up in the air, and deciding you were right all along and I was wrong -- you just don't have the time for whatever it is you are putting off -- ask yourself this question. How can I create more of it in 2015?
Keep me posted on what happens!
Joanne Tombrakos is the Founder and Chief Storyteller at Joanne Tombrakos International, a marketing consultancy specializing in demystifying digital for business and life through practical tools, education and simple advice. An Indie Author, Adjunct @NYU, and Speaker she blogs at joannetombrakos.com