“If you have more than 3 priorities, then you don’t have any.” –Jim Collins
I can’t help but believe that we are just as busy as we make ourselves.
I did this for many years, filling my schedule with anything and everything, with no discernment of what was important versus what was a waste of time. I didn’t have enough insight to direct my efforts to achieve specific outcomes. In other words, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, saying yes to everything, undervaluing my time and my expertise.
I read ‘The Four-Hour Work Week’ in 2007, and as I blogged about before, it changed how I viewed my time. Time became MORE important than money, and I slowly made changes to my schedule to allow more autonomy, fewer “obligations” and I started creating time for myself. It took 5 years, but because of conscious focus and time-management strategies, I now have the schedule I want, and am focused on my desired outcomes.
I believe in working smarter, not harder, nor longer. Instead of working on everything equally and trying to be good at it all, it makes sense to focus our energy toward the thing we really truly want.
I was thinking about this yesterday, and it really is this simple–if we want a specific OUTCOME, we have to put our FOCUS there.
Focus drives action, which drives outcomes:
You’ve probably experienced this before. Think of a time in your life when you put your energy into creating time for something, whether it was training for a marathon, doing a new diet or getting a degree in school.
When I was competing and landed my magazine covers, that was my life. My focus was on that. And the proof was in the outcomes. I created time in my schedule to take the actions necessary to land the cover of a magazine. Simple. In the last 2 years, my focus has shifted to building my business, making a greater impact and helping more people, and that is where I now see results.
So a little tough love for you:
When you say you “don’t have time” what you really mean is you “don’t create time.”
This is a matter of priorities. I choose blogging and working on my business over cleaning my house. And as a result, my business grows and my house does not get cleaned (by me). I made a conscious choice to focus on a specific area so that I can do well in it (business) as the expense of other things (cleaning), so I find a workaround, like hiring someone to clean it weekly. I choose my business over cooking all my meals at home. So I see results in one area (business) but find a workaround that doesn’t take my time when it comes to food (either using a delivery service, getting clean take-out or using easy DIY meal prep ideas). Priorities. Decisions.
At some point, we need to make the decision that we don’t need to be good at everything.
Because when we try to do everything well, we end up doing nothing really well. We cannot excel in anything, and instead we become a slave to our schedule, with zero focus in any one area. Like the saying goes, “Play to your strengths” and use workarounds for the things you don’t do well. You don’t have to be World’s Greatest everything.
But we cannot get around needing to CREATE time if we want a specific outcome to change. Want to be lean? We have to CREATE time to be lean. We need to put our workouts before TV. We have to put food prep ahead of going to a matinee on the weekend. We have to get up a little earlier to sneak in our workouts before work. Which means we might need to get off the computer at night so that we can get to sleep and afford to get up earlier.
Wherever we put our time is where we see results. Simple.
We might believe we want to be lean, but until we create the time to actually do it, the old adage still stands: “Actions speak louder than words.”
So, here are my 6 insights around creating time to get lean:
When we try to be great at everything, we’re great at nothing.
- If you are already saying to yourself, “Jill doesn’t get that I just don’t have any time,” then this is never going to work for you. This is a MINDSET issue. Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day, we all choose how to spend it. You may have more obligations that someone else (kids, 9-to-5 desk job, etc), but could you not choose a workout over TV at night? Could you not go for a walk at lunchtime? Could you not take your kids outside and play or take them on walk with you? Could you not buy a set of dumbbells for at home so that you don’t have to go all the way to the gym to exercise? Could you not hire someone to clean your house so that you can spend chore time on prepping food instead? This is a matter of PRIORITIES.
- Long workouts are old school. Go shorter and harder. The new science of exercise shows that we can get the same (or better!) results when we choose to move intensely instead of simply going for longer. A 20 minute sprint workout using your driveway will yield BETTER results than an hour of jogging, if your goal is fat loss. Get smart about workouts, and stop thinking that because you don’t have 90 minutes to dedicate to driving to the gym, working out for an hour and driving home that you can’t do something.
- Do what you like to do, and for everything else, find shortcuts. Once I decided that I didn’t have to cook all my meals at home each week and I could make clean decisions out at restaurants, things got a whole lot easier. Jade and I have probably tried at least 8 new food delivery services in the past year, seeing what will work for us, what’s healthy and get results. Instead of stressing about cleaning your house daily, pay someone to come for an hour 3x/week to pick up. You can probably get someone to do it for $10/hr. Work smarter, not harder. Could you hire someone to spend 1 hour/day returning emails for you? Start with small changes and ramp up later on.
- Don’t force yourself to do stuff you hate. Period. If you don’t like to run on the treadmill, don’t. If you don’t broccoli, by all means find some other veggies you like and eat those. If you don’t like the gym, don’t go. Work out at home. If you like chocolate, find ways to incorporate it in a healthy way or as a cheat meal. If you are constantly trying to stuff yourself into a box, eventually, you won’t fit :) When you are doing things you hate, it won’t last anyway.
- Get focused. Like Jade says, “If you’re not focused, you’re f*cked.” I agree. Often we don’t even realize we aren’t focused because we have our head down, grinding it out, just doing what’s in front of us today. So ask yourself, what’s my plan? Where do I want to be in 10 years? Next year? Next month? Next week? And how can I TAKE ACTION today to help me get there? Focus leads to action, which leads to outcomes. And here’s the thing … YOU CAN’T BE FOCUSED ON A BUNCH OF THINGS. The definition of focus is that you have 1-2 things you are doing. When we try to be great at everything, we’re great at nothing.
- Stop being a victim of your schedule. Everyone has priorities, everyone has obligations, everyone has to make money. But you do have choices. Your life is your own. You can say no to things (yes, you can!). You can choose where to go, what to do, how you do it. Yes you can! Even if you feel like you can’t, you actually can! :) Lol. The good thing is that you don’t have to make all the changes at once, just choose one thing. An example: On a night where there is little on TV that you like, CHOOSE to not watch TV that night, instead of mindlessly channel surfing. And then do something else: prep food, work out, write a blog, GO TO BED so that you can wake up early to work out. Just start there. One evening, one change, and then start doing it weekly. Over time, maybe you add a second night each week. This is how you become more focused on your goals.
BABY STEPS. It took me 5 years of shifting my focus and schedule bit by bit to create time and space to do the things I want and feel a greater sense of wellbeing. I went from working 70-80 hours a week to working 20-30 hrs and getting more done in less time and doing those things better.
Now you try :) One thing. Start there. Make it a priority. Get focused. Let me know how you do! Ox, Jill
Related: Simple Productivity Tool: Monday Checklist