Spring time is the best time of the year to go outside and enjoy all that mother nature has given us. I can sympathize with my friends in the midwest and east coast who had to endure another cold and snowy winter. As a matter of fact isn’t that always the case out east?
Well, wouldn’t we all like to have more free time to enjoy what we like to do? There’s no one secret, but a huge key for me has been: finding time to spend with my family to go out and do these things. My family and I love hiking in and around Las Vegas or at Yosemite National Park. However, we try and bank our time to go to our favorite place in the world……Kauai, Hawaii!
A beautiful day in Poipu, Kauai……lovely!
That might sound obvious, but it’s a problem for many couples and families. I know, because it was a problem for me not long ago — I was in a highly demanding and stressful job, and it often meant working late hours when my family wanted me to be home. My wife would be as understanding as possible, but it was definitely a strain on our marriage when I never had time for her and our son. It was hard on our son, as I would often miss his soccer games, school functions, and the like.
It was hard on me too. I hated missing out on my family, and missed my wife and son. So I made some changes in my life, simplifying, so that I could find the time I wanted to spend with my family.
And I have to say, it’s one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made. My wife and I have a stronger relationship than ever. The bond with my son is stronger than ever too, and I personally am happier than I’ve ever been.
But how do you free up time when you’re busy and overworked? Some ideas follow … not all of them will apply to your life, but some might do the trick.
- Figure out what’s essential. What’s most essential in your life? Make a long list of all the commitments in your life, all the things you want to do, then pick just 4-5. It can be difficult, but making these hard choices is crucial. My short list: spending time with family, writing, reading, running.
- Get out of commitments. If a commitment doesn’t line up with your short list of essentials, get out of it if at all possible. Sometimes that will mean disappointing people. That’s OK. Your family is worth it.
- Simplify your schedule. Other than commitments, are there other things you can get rid of on your schedule and to-do list? Can you stop trying to do everything, and make room in your schedule? Don’t pack your day full of appointments and tasks and projects. Leave space.
- Make dates. Now that you’ve made some space in your life, make a standing appointment to spend time with your family. That might mean 20 minutes every evening when you come home with your wife, or a weekly date when you both go out, or taking a walk or reading with your child every night, or a weekly 1-2 hour date with your kids. Put it on the schedule, and make it the most sacred appointment you have.
- Get the important stuff done early. Figure out what is really important each morning, and do those things first. Otherwise, they get pushed back further and further and either they don’t get done, or you have to work late.
- Batch the small stuff. Instead of interrupting the important tasks by doing small things, like checking email or answering phones or doing paperwork, do them in batches later in the day.
- Realize you won’t get everything done. A to-do list is unending. It will never get done. An email inbox is also never empty for long. So realize that there will always be more things to do, and decide you’re OK with that. Don’t try to get everything done.
- Do less. Along the same lines, focus on doing less and less. This will mean you’re going to focus on doing the important things, and cut down on the less important things. When you’ve cut down on the number of things you’re doing, try to cut some more. Less is better.
- Cut back on meetings. Think about the last 4-5 meetings you’ve gone to. How many of them were really valuable? How many of them did you need to be at? It depends on your job, but sometimes you can beg out of a meeting (or just outright cancel it if you have that power) and accomplish the same thing through an email or two. You just saved yourself 30-60 minutes per meeting canceled.
- Watch less TV. Many people watch hours of TV a day. You can easily save an hour a day if you cut TV out, or just watch your single favorite show each day. Don’t channel surf.
- Limit your time online. If you’re like me, you can spend hours a day reading online. Limit your online reading and focus on your essential tasks.
- Start work early. If you work before everyone gets in the office, you won’t have constant interruptions and distractions. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. I used to do it when I worked in an office, and because I didn’t take a lunch break (I at ate my desk while working) I could get off at 2 p.m. and spend time with my kids.
- Say no. One of the biggest groups of time eaters is requests from other people. All day long we get requests, in person, on the phone, in email, through paperwork. Meetings, assignments, requests for information, requests to be on a committee or team; these are all requests that will eat up your time. Say no to all but the essentials.
- Stop checking email & social media. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if you can stop checking email except at one or two times during the day, you can free up a lot of wasted time. Checking email constantly takes up a lot of time. Checking in on your Facebook or Twitter account is a complete waste of time…..I know that there is a balance but if you go to your Facebook or Twitter account to see what your friends are doing……its precious time that you are taking away from your family.
- Remember your priority. When making choices, or saying yes to others’ demand on your time, remember what’s really important to you. You spouse, your family. Not other people’s needs. Always keep that in mind.
- Last but certainly not the least. Consider starting your own business. That is what I did and it has certainly changed my life and it has opened up so many opportunities for our family to enjoy the benefits of being our own boss! I apply the same principals and practices that I stated above but I only work 3 to 4 days a week and I no longer have those crazy long work days. My family and I are able to travel more often and enjoy mother natures gifts to the fullest!