Welcome friends to Episode #71 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. Time is one of our most precious assets and resources. The more we are connected through technology, the easier it becomes to feel like our time gets consumed through work and the ability to always be doing something. Today, we’re going to talk about some of the foundational principles of creating more time in your life.
We are often so time-starved that we don’t do what would help us. One of the topics that come up the most often during coaching is time management. Why? Because we value our time! We value how we spend our time, what we do with our time, who we spend time with, and the quality of presence when we do have time.
While I won’t be going into a full coaching session over your time, we’ll discuss 3 ways to create more time in your life: Eliminate, Automate and Delegate
The first thing to do is to think about what has to be done and whether it will help you towards having the results you want in life. Many of us do this automatically, but it is still helpful to ask this question about each activity or task that is in our life.
Does doing this align with my vision or goal?
Whether it’s a project or engagement that is new or currently in your life, it is helpful to ask ourselves whether our time is spent well in the process. This doesn’t mean that you eliminate fun from your life. It’s actually the contrary. We are looking to align your activities with your purpose and the results you want to see in your life.
The other day, I was considering training for a longer distance triathlon and decided to train for a shorter distance one instead. The vision for my physical health is that I am an example of what’s possible and that I challenge myself in fun and interesting ways. That I exercise every day and I’m in top physical shape. None of that includes exactly how I do it.
Our visions may remain the same but we need to be adaptable to our context. Right now, I also have lots of other results I want to achieve in my personal and professional life. My goal is to achieve this vision with the least amount of time. Training for a sprint distance triathlon lets me focus on building strength across a variety of disciplines so I don’t wear one thing out. If I just stuck to thinking that I had to do this, I wouldn’t have asked myself “how does this align with my vision or goal?” and “what does alignment mean?”
Once I asked myself that question, I remembered that the way I get there is up to me – so a longer distance triathlon isn’t necessarily the best way for me to get there if I want this to be a consistent practice in my life right now. Longer distance triathlon training takes more time and right now, I want to spend my time doing other things!
When you think about the scope of the thing you’re about to tackle and the activity itself, ask yourself, “can this be eliminated or reduced while still allowing me to achieve my vision?” If you say yes, then we eliminate or reduce.
Now you’re left with the vital few versus the trivial many. Be ruthless about what you say yes to when you ask the question, “Does this align with my goal?” If the answer is yes, then we can think about this next question, which is “can this be automated”?
Automate is when we see that something is done repetitively and we find a way to have it done through a system or process. The question you want to ask here is the following.
Where can I streamline this process or limit distractions so I can spend time on what matters instead?
This is where technology can work for us so that things happen without our intervention, while we are sleeping or doing other things. This takes time to set up but the investment of time upfront is well worth all of the time saved daily. The categories of things to automate include the following:
- Email: For example, setting up an out of office when you’re out of office is a way to automate the many responses back saying “I’ll get back to you later.” Creating rules in your email so that junk or low-value email goes to a folder that you can easily delete or read later. I’ve also instituted a rule where all my emails will only be sent after a 2 minute delay which has saved me so much time trying to course correct after I realized there was a mistake or change that needed to be made. You can even have the news sent to you instead of searching the news.
- Finances: We can use technology to help us do things like automatically pay bills, save and invest. You’ll need to set up the structure of timing and the accounts from which to pay, save or invest – but this is one of the ways you can build wealth. Automatically saving a certain amount of your income so that you never even realize it’s yours to spend and paying yourself first are one of the big personal finance principles for building wealth.
- File Back-ups: We can also automate how our files are saved or backed-up so that there is another place where we can go just in case we lose our work on our computers or on our phones.
Work Automation: This will differ based on the kind of work that you do, but think about all of the things you do consistently in your work and ask yourself, “is there a way for this to be done once instead of every day or every week or every month?” Even if you batch the creation of the work that you do and you automate what gets shared, you’ll reduce the daily work. This is where we need to be creative and think through our tasks more strategically. Can we record things and share them out somewhere so we don’t have to teach or present the same thing over and over. How can we leverage something we do once many times?
- Diet/Nutrition: We don’t always make the best decisions for ourselves and what to eat in the moment of choice. This is why having plans and decisions made ahead of time for what we eat works so well in having food freedom and achieving health goals. You can automate what you eat by deciding once what kind of food you want to eat and how much – and then having a plan or meal delivery service ship it to you every week so that you’re not making decisions all the time. It’s the idea of the one decision that eliminates thousands of decisions.
Delegate is when we think about this one question:
Who else can do this and what will I gain as a result of investing into having someone else do this?
We often get stuck in the idea of delegating a task or an activity because we’re too caught up in the cycle of our daily work that we think we don’t have the time or the money to invest in delegating. We think it will take longer to have someone else do it and that they won’t do it as well as you will. Those things may all be true, but what will you gain as a result?
The real key here is to remember that this is an investment. It’s an investment back into your business and personal life. If it’s someone on your team that you’re delegating to, it’s also an investment into their development as well. It’s not about dumping work onto someone else.
Ask yourself, what are the things you should spend your time doing?
Everything else can either be eliminated or automated or delegated. Eliminate, simplify and automate before you delegate, otherwise you are wasting your and someone else’s resources. A few ideas for what to delegate include:
- Tasks that other people can do and be the expert: Customer service, administrative tasks, organization, logistics, functional roles like Finance/HR/Training/Marketing/Product development. You may not be comfortable with letting someone else work on your business or in your life but this is the discomfort that comes with letting go. We cannot do what is most important and matters most if we don’t have time to do it.
- Cleaning and Cooking: If you can invest in hiring people to help you clean or cook whether it’s partially or completely, you can save time and money. I say save money because you can create a budget for what you want to invest into these activities and stick to it. You can also utilize other family members so that the responsibilities aren’t all on you to do everything. Spouses and kids are all fair game when it comes to delegating in household chores. This isn’t about laziness, it’s about creating more time. You shouldn’t make messes expecting others to clean it up, but we all know that it takes work and time to do the laundry, clean the bathrooms, sweep and mop, make meals and clean the kitchen.
- Shopping: Whether you’re shopping for your business or your personal life, you can delegate shopping through using e-commerce so that the items will get delivered without a trip to the store, or you have someone like an assistant or expert in their area (stylists, interior designers) actually do the purchasing for you.
- Household Repairs: If you are not the person that can do all the things yourself in a home, you can let others figure it out and do it for you. I’m not saying that you abdicate responsibility for understanding how things work, but often we spend lots of time and feel resentful trying to do something in our homes ourselves instead of asking an expert and paying for their time and resources to get the job done well. If you’re happy to do this and it brings you joy (aligns with your vision) then go ahead and do all the things! My dad was very equipped and loved to do all household repairs himself – and even taught us to do a lot as well, but when I couldn’t change my own oil because I didn’t have a jack or oil pan at my place in Baltimore one year, I realized that it was time to go seek professional help. Many of us have hobbies around the home that we enjoy; it’s knowing the difference between what we need or want to do and what we really don’t need nor want to do.
This exercise in eliminating, automating and delegating is just that: an exercise. Which means that as life changes, we can do this process again and again. I like to do this process each week as I look forward to what are the most important things that have to be done.
When I see that I have a vital few versus a trivial many, it’s simpler to stay focused and not overwhelmed. If I start to see things begin to create obstacles for my time, I’ll ask myself this:
- Does doing this align with my vision or goal?
- Where can I streamline this process or limit distractions so I can spend time on what matters instead?
- Who else can do this and what will I gain as a result of investing into having someone else do this?
If this topic resonates with you and you want to see transformational results in your life, you’ll love coaching. Getting coached consistently is the spark that will light the fire of inspiration to make the change you’re looking to make. It is the first step in creating clarity, making a massive shift and moving obstacles out of your way so you can move forward. You can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.