I am sorry to tell you this but lack of time is not your problem. I saw that eye roll, it still is true. Yes, you are busy. Yes, your family takes up so much time. Yes, you always reach the end of the day not further along with your to-do list. I will say it again; lack of time is not your problem.
Shall I tell you what is? DPO or Disorganisation, Procrastination, Overwhelm. I will hold my hand up and readily admit it, I am really disorganised. I have always loved the idea of being a super organised and tidy person. I pin beautiful shots of colour coordinated wardrobes, pantries with rows of labelled glass jars and a home office that is clear and tidy at the end of the day insistently to my Pinterest board. I have yet to recreate that online version of my world into reality though.
Is disorganisation that bad?
My disorganisation seeps into my work and business life as well. I always get to the end of the tax year, hunting for receipts and filling in the gaps in my accounts sheets promising to be so much better the following year. Has it happened this year? It’s an improvement on last years, that’s progress for me!
Because of my lack of organisation, I found the first four months of my new business journey quite daunting and quickly became overwhelmed with the process. I fell into that same dialogue “I don’t have time for this!” and I truly believed it. I am not going to lie and say this is an easy journey to take. I have gone from being a full time stay at home mum to reopening my massage therapy business, studying online marketing and setting up my first fully digital business. As well as now being a mum who happens to have become a home educator for the last six months. I still have enough time.
When I started studying online marketing and digital business back in February I knew it would be difficult, finding some spare hours to study. Even so, I was determined to find a second income stream. After a running injury, I realised how vulnerable my income is and I just decided to fit in my study, whenever I could.
The power of learning to focus and working in flow
My disorganisation quickly became a real problem and I started to doubt being able to manage all I was trying to do. Then I started to understand the link between disorganisation, procrastination and overwhelm and the huge importance of flow. Have you heard of flow? It is life-changing stuff.
When we have multiple things to achieve it can lead to one of three outcomes. We can either feel so overwhelmed by the task we procrastinate and take no action. We can try and wear all the hats, dashing from task to task but not really get anywhere or we can learn true organisation, plan our days, stay focused and work from a place of flow. I have tried all three!
The later is something I have only recently started to do and wow does it make a HUGE difference to my days and weeks and more importantly move me in the right direction. I plan my tasks for the upcoming week. Meal planning, batch cooking, shopping orders even laundry times. I plan my work and study tasks in the same way. Brainstorming what I need to do over the next 30 days to move forward then break that into weeks and days (even down to AM and PM sessions). When I sit down to work I totally focus on the one task in hand. Phone away, notifications off, social media shut and I stay focused for the whole session. For me, I break them down into 90-minute slots, any longer and I start to get fidgety and distracted.
Multi-tasking is so last decade
We used to believe that multi-tasking was something to be proud of, almost like a badge of honour. I am SO busy look at everything I can do! It is widely believed now that the most we can focus on at any one time maybe only one or two and many studies believe it to be just one. What happens is we end up jumping around, never reaching flow and wearing our mental and physical self out.
This simple shift in mindset has not only created a much more pleasant work and study process but it has also moved me forward, consistently week by week. If you are still struggling to think of where you would have time to put your plan into action then use a diary for a week and note down all the activities you do in a day. I did this myself and I was really surprised to see how much time I actually wasted. You can always find some hours in the week. If you are committed to your plan; maybe exercising, learning something new, writing a book or creating a new business like me then you will find the time. We don’t have to watch 7 hours of Netflix series a week, we don’t have to spend hours mindlessly scrolling social media, we don’t have to do three grocery shops a week. We do need to make a choice (to put your idea into place), make a good plan (get really organised) and stay focused (by using work flow).
How can i find more time?
If you truly want to find more time in your life and become more productive and less frazzled then try following these simple steps
Step 1… Make the decision
You have an idea, something you want to start working on. It might be a career change that requires study, a new business to give you more freedom, a new exercise regime or you simply desire a more organised home to free up uninterrupted time with your family. Whatever the catalyst is you first of all need to make the decision to start. Accept that some things will have to change; TV time reduced or wake up time pushed earlier (horrifying as a mum, i KNOW this!) but life is just a series of choices in the end. Make the decision that this is what you want and you are willing to make the changes needed.
Step 2… Keep a time diary for a week
Just get yourself a little notebook or download a digital app such as DayOne and simply record your day. Just note all your activities. Have a code you will understand to keep it simple. SM15- Social media scroll 15 minutes, TV90 90 minutes of television, C60 cooking 60 minutes and so on. Then add up all those hours at the end of the week. You might find that you spend 10 hours cooking meals. Look how much life could change if you batch cook on a Sunday afternoon, I do this now and we actually make it a fun family activity.
Step 3… Practise focus
The best way to start learning how to focus is through mindfulness. Calm app actually has a seven-day meditation program specifically designed to encourage and nurture focus. Learning how to be mindful in your day to day life will enhance your ability to focus on one task at a time, creating a more productive day and more importantly fully engaged time with your family.
Step 4… Clear your mental desk
You clear your desk at the end of the day (maybe?) well clearing your mental desk every few months is just as important. Even when we are busy, busy, busy our minds keep pinging around to all the things we need to do. Calls to family, dentist appointments to book, courses to enrol on, play dates to arrange. Pick a frequency, I like every month and write down ALL the things that are on your mental to-do list. Then put them in order of importance. After that go through and physically cross out any that you can do absolutely nothing about. Chose a day and then get to work, crossing off as many as possible. Once you have cleared your mental desk, or if not cleared then reduced the mess as much as possible your mind will be able to focus more, flow more and be more productive with the time you do have.
Step 5… Get up a little earlier
I am not going to ask you to join the 5am club (even though this is something I want to do, someday…) but getting up even 30 minutes earlier can really change your day. Just having 30 minutes to meditate, shower, plan your day, get the school things ready can make a HUGE impact on how in control of your day you are. This might mean going to bed a little earlier but for most people, productivity is best in the morning and not late at night so utilise this powerful time.
Step 6… Meal plan and meal prep
I love to cook. We eat a mostly healthy diet and I cook the bulk of our food from scratch. This takes up a lot of time and can get quite exhausting in itself. Planning your meals, ordering your food or making a detailed shopping list and then blocking a chunk of time to meal prep can give you back tonnes of time. My kids love cooking and gardening as well so we make some of this a fun family activity as well. Win, win.
Step 7… The biggie, work in blocks
When I first started this journey I was all other the place. Writing posts for my massage business, contacting clients, writing content for my digital business, studying e-mail marketing. Ping, ping, ping. Never staying focused, never getting into flow, never really getting anywhere. Now I plan my days, weeks and months I even break my days into AM/PM work sessions. To be totally clear I am still mainly a mum. I still look after my kids every day. Crafts, forest walks, bike rides, home ed, school run (soon anyway), reading and so on, you know the drill. Being able to plan my work sessions into blocks means I am more present with my family. No posting on social media whilst playing in the garden. I work in set blocks when I know I will have that time available. Such as Wednesday I am child-free for the day so AM is a blog content block and PM is social media posts for the week (i then use later.com to post at allocated times). Monday evening I schedule to work, this is study time only. I have found the true power of focusing on one block of work at a time is the ability to get into flow, getting more done and being way more productive than pinging all over the place.
Still not convinced?
I don’t know your life, your story so I can’t say what time you have. If you truly go through your week and you cannot find a way to create some time to work on your goals or passion project then maybe now is not the right time. If you, however, can be truly honest with yourself about WHY you want this time, WHAT it means to you and HOW can you achieve it then I think you will find a way to create that time and use the valuable hours to get into flow and progress, not procrastinate.
Have you noticed changes to your family or business life after learning focus and flow? I would love to know about it. Pop you comments in the box below.