Step 3: How You Can Create Time ⏰

How to use your time so effectively that you CREATE more time in your schedule.

Time to do whatever you choose.
Whatever makes you happy.
Whatever creates balance for you in your life.

So how do we cultivate these time-creators?

  • Build your focus muscles
  • Plan for productivity
  • Commit to your plan

Today we’ll focus on planning for productivity.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

How many times have you blocked out an hour or two on your calendar to tackle a big project, and the time comes and goes with little to nothing to show for it?

That’s because you’re not really planning.
Or at least not planning well.
There’s an art to planning.
A science to doing it well in a way that produces results.

Done right, planning for productivity CREATES time in your days and weeks.

Time that you can use for recreation, rest, or whatever you please.

So how to effectively plan for productivity?

Plan your whole week in advance, on Sunday evening or first thing Monday morning.

The following process can be done in about 30 minutes once a week.

This small time investment in yourself will pay dividends when you commit to doing it weekly.

Simply start by making a list.

✅ Catalog

  • Write down all the things you need to get done this week.
  • Appointments to be scheduled, decisions to be made, emails to be sent or phone calls to be made.
  • Write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Get it all out.
  • Write for at least 3-5 minutes, more if the thoughts keep coming.
  • When you think you’re done, ask yourself, “what else?”
  • Don’t forget to include self-care activities such as exercise, meditation,
  • This helps clear your brain of all the many circulating thoughts; replaying conversations or events from the day, your to-do list, stressing over decisions to be made, etc. Getting it all out on paper in a big brain dump is cathartic and helps your brain let go of that anxiety-producing mental chatter.

✅ Categorize
After you’re done writing, categorize all of the tasks or projects on your list.

You choose your own categories – whatever makes sense for you. I usually divide my list into work tasks, home/family-related tasks, and personal items, but you do you.

✅ Prioritize
Look at your list and decide which items need to be completed this week, which bigger items or projects need to be started, etc.

Any appointments you already have scheduled, whether personal or work-related, fall in this priority list.

✅ Schedule
This is key – schedule EVERYTHING in your calendar.

➡️ This means your personal and self-care activities too, including exercise, meditation, meeting a friend for lunch or coffee, etc.

➡️ When you go to schedule your items in your calendar, start with personal activities and self-care items first.

Why? Because we’ve been socialized to put ourselves last as if our needs aren’t as important as others’ needs.

Not true! Our needs come first because we are the glue that keeps our families, teams and society working smoothly.

This is not selfish – this is service!

We need to put on our own oxygen mask first in order to be at our best as we serve and support others in our lives.

➡️ After you schedule self-care and personal items, go to your priorities list and schedule those items next.

A few hints as you complete the remainder of your schedule.

  • Be sure to consider travel time when you schedule your time blocks
  • Include some “buffer time every day.

Buffer time is time you block to plan for the unexpected urgencies that inevitably come up most days.

  • Your kid misses the school bus and you have to drive them to school.
  • Your boss asks you to help with an urgent project.
  • You get the picture.

When you have buffer time built into your days and weeks, you account for these unplanned urgencies and you still stay on track and productive.

I try to plan 30-60 minutes/day for buffer time, but some days there’s no time. In this case, you might consider a larger block on your “lighter” days.

Many of my clients have either a day off work during the week, an “admin-time” half day, or perhaps a “no meeting Friday” rule at their work so they can plan for their buffer time during those time blocks.

Be creative and experiment. You’ll find what works for you.

✅ Commit
Now that you have a plan, it’s important to commit to it.

Commit to the decisions you’ve made for yourself this week.

You deserve to show up for yourself.

Your future self will thank you.

✅ Evaluate
At the end of every week, take 5 minutes to evaluate how well you did with your planning.

How well you stayed committed to your plan.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What went well?
  • Where did you get stuck or what didn’t go well?
  • What will you do differently next time?

Now, CONGRATULATE yourself for the progress you made, and consider what learnings are there to help you plan better next week.
Aim for progress, not perfection!
Keep at it! Every week you’ll see improvements.
You’ll get better at projecting how much time tasks will need.
You’ll see more white space open up in your calendar as you focus and execute your tasks and stay on schedule because of the commitment you made to yourself.

Want help creating more white space in your days?
I can help you with that!

Here’s to creating time for what’s important,