I once came across a quote that changed my life. “We all have as many hours in our day as Beyonce.” I know, I know – sounds super lame, right? Well, replace Beyonce with any name that inspires you: Mahatma Gandhi, J.K. Rowling, Mickey Mouse – whoever floats your boat! It still holds true – and it is suddenly very effective.
Some people manage to achieve great things with their 24 hours – The only thing stopping you from joining their ranks is proper time management. You can work smarter instead of harder to create the time you need to pursue the more fulfilling side of life.
Do you want a better work/life balance? Do you find yourself getting stuck in an internet/Netflix hole for hours at a time? Are there goals and dreams you are not pursuing because of lack of time?
Now, if you are happy to veg out on your couch, whiling away the hours in front of a screen, by all means carry on. This article is not for you. This article is for those people who acknowledge the voice inside that asks for something more, something better. We all have days where a few hours of Netflix is exactly what the doctor ordered… But that is not every day.
Every single morning you have the opportunity to build yourself an epic day. Have you ever stopped to think what your most epic day would look like? Take the time to daydream about it. What would you have for breakfast? What would your work day look like? Who would you spend time with? Do you have half-finished projects or long lost hobbies aching for some attention?
There are some very effective steps you can implement TODAY to start bringing your everyday life into alignment with your EPICday life.
Get. Up. Earlier.
Boom. Instant time.
Granted, no one can create more hours out of thin air to add to their day, but this is pretty close. It is such a simple magic formula, yet so effective.
Think what one more hour could help you achieve in your day. This is the golden time – the moments when you will set the mood, lay the foundation for the rest of the day. Upgrade your morning routine by adding some more time (more about what to do during this time in a later post).
If you are not the type to bounce out of bed in the morning, believe me, I totally understand. This is going to take willpower. Some mornings it will feel like torture, reminiscent of school mornings in the middle of winter where you had to be dragged out of bed (5 more minutes mom!!!). Be curious, keep it lighthearted, and experiment with winding back your usual getting-up time for one week. Give it a try. See what a huge difference it makes. I promise it is not that painful once you are up and moving around.
And it’s not just the physical addition of more time to your day. It is also that imperceptible sense of achievement. You have just become one of ‘those people’. That special early morning club. Things just seem to run smoother for them. On the mornings where I make an effort to wake up earlier, I feel invincible. It gives me the time to gether my thoughts, meander around the kitchen as I cook up something tasty for breakfast, stretch, listen to the birdsong and generally feel smug that I am up before the world.
I think it is actually the smugness more than anything else that lends a sense of purpose and action to the rest of your day. As if you were destined to wake up early and do good things with your day. Allow yourself to be carried along on your wave of secret satisfaction through your day, shining a little brighter than normal, bolstered by your early morning accomplishments.
**NB. Try not to judge too harshly the mere mortals who got up at their usual time this morning. The smugness can give you an inflated, false sense of superiority. Don’t let it get the better of you!
Discover an Effective Means of Planning
For some, it’s the pen-and-paper. For others, it’s their tablet/iphone/laptop/synched-across-all-devices-app. It makes no matter.
Find the method you prefer, and make it work for you. None of the above methods will work if they lay abandoned and unused. They are tools for effectively managing your time. You need to be consistent for the best results.
They can keep your day on track with regards to important to-do lists and habit tracking (are you drinking enough water?) but they also act as an important overview of how your day fits into your week, the week into the month and month into the year. You can skip back and forth, see the important dates coming up and give yourself enough time and leeway to plan larger events such as birthdays or Christmas.
If you only focus on daily goals and to-do lists, you may never achieve anything valuable in the long term. Your every day life and goals should align with the overall picture. What are you trying to achieve, learn, or create this year? Do you have a motto, or manifesto to keep you on track? Place this in a prominent position inside your planner (or on your desktop/screensaver) as a reminder. Every day is like a drop in the ocean and they all add up to something bigger. Remember that it is what you do consistently, every day, that makes a difference, rather than what you do every once in a while.
Planners are also excellent means to track where you are ‘wasting’ time. You will notice where you are spending the majority of your time and the things that consistently get left until last on your to-do list: your areas of procrastination, in other words. Procrastination is a scary word. It’s like a domineering finger pointing at you in condemnation. Often it is the finger we point at ourselves, attaching huge guilt and shame to it. No more!!
Think of it as a flag. Procrastination is actually a really helpful pointer. It can show us areas in life where we are being wilfully ignorant, or lazy. It lets us know where we have been placing our priorities. Ideally, if it can be done in less than a minute, you should do it at once. Anything urgent, likewise, moves to the top of our priorities (unpaid bills, health concerns, breakdowns in communication with loved ones, etc). However, if you find that the things that are important to you consistently get moved down the list and procrastinated, something needs to change.
If you are committed to living a life with more joy, fulfilment and bliss, you need to start putting yourself first. As well as food, shelter and love, humans have a fundamental need for self-discovery and self-esteem. We crave creativity, confidence, achievement and fulfilment of our talents and potentialities. These needs are as important to our growth and happiness as our need for belonging and being loved. Start cutting out time spent on low-level distractions and spending quality time with yourself and your dreams instead.
Make Time For Time Off
Yes, I already mentioned that nobody can create time out of thin air. But hopefully now that you’ve implemented an earlier morning and an effective means of planning your time, you have started to notice a shift in the direction of your days.
Highly successful people know the value of time off. By successful, I mean happy people. You’ve surely noticed them. People who potter in the garden, humming to themselves. People who roar with laughter as you pass them on the streets, joking with their friends or family. People who refuse to do any chores on the weekend, or who ignore the telephone as it rings – “nah, it’s my day off!”
Make a pact with yourself to become one of these people, if you aren’t already. If you are in a job that you love, especially if you work from home, it can be tough to dedicate yourself to time off. The lure of the email is so strong!! I’ll just check one more thing, answer one more call… All of a sudden an hour has passed. It’s time to get tough.
Step away from your computer, people!!
Pull yourself back to the land of the living. Bare feet on the earth, dog bounding happily after a ball, cookies baking in the oven, unexpected kisses… All this happens when you commit yourself to time off (and away from your screen).
Stay tuned in and don’t forget to subscribe for next week when I will be sharing my thoughts on honing your morning routine to set you up for an epic day.
Peace and light,