Never Enough Time

“I never have enough time.”

I hear that comment every week from many of my clients. As women, we have so many hats that we wear — wife, partner, mother, sister, daughter, friend, boss, advisor, career-woman. We inevitably have a ton of things on our plate, it’s no surprise that we are periodically overwhelmed with life and all that is demands of us.

One of the reasons so many of my clients struggle with time management is because of the expectations they put upon themselves. In order to become a lawyer and snag that great position at that amazing firm, we bust our asses. We have grit and tenacity and that is what gets us to this place.

That grit and tenacity is also what sets us up for this battle with time. 

We know we can do hard things. We know we can put our noses to the grindstone and make it happen so we never stop trying to achieve more. As you know, I am a huge advocate for goals, in general, but my question to all overachievers is this: What is your why? Why are you doing all those things? What will it get you?

What are you looking for?

For many of us, we have spent the majority of our lives chasing the dream of becoming a lawyer. When we get there, the excitement that comes with achievement doesn’t last very long and we end up right back where we started — looking for some other mountain to climb.

The rationale for this pursuit, is typically that my clients are looking for something to make them feel fulfilled. They want to find something that will bring purpose and meaning to their lives. They want to feel like they have succeeded.

That. Never. Works. Many of my clients spend years pursuing accomplishment after accomplishment only to feel empty all over again once each new accomplishment high wears off. The truth is that those things outside of ourselves will never give us the purpose and happiness we seek. We have exclusive authority over our sense of purpose and happiness. Piling on goals and tasks and achievements will not only fail to give you that sense of pride you are seeking, it will bog you down and overwhelm your life. It will prevent you from being able to see and appreciate everything you have accomplished because you will always be distracted by the things you failed to do–the cleaning that you didn’t get done, that email to your new client that you wanted to get out, that phone call to your friend for her birthday. You will always be clouded by self-judgement because you have set yourself up for failure.

Part of this is driven by imposter syndrome. We haven’t internalized our worthiness so we seek outward validation that we belong. We don’t believe we are good enough to be here so we try to manufacture feedback confirming that we DO belong, that we are good enough. Implicitly, we care more about what others think about us than what we think about ourselves. We put the wants and needs of others (and thus their opinions of us) before our wants and needs for ourselves. Self care goes out the window and over-achieving pushes down the throttle. It’s no wonder that so many of my clients are overwhelmed with their self-created pressures.

At the end of a busy day, my clients are frustrated by all the things they DIDN’T get done. They spend zero time considering all of the things they DID get done and all of the ways the day was a huge success. Instead of committing to drink more water every day and get their billable hours in on time, they commit to reading a new book every week, working out four times a week, walking the dogs every day, cooking dinner three nights a week, and calling their mom every Thursday. We pile so much on that it would be impossible for any human to keep up. We set ourselves up for the complaint — I never have enough time.

You will never “have enough time” when the expectations you are putting on yourself are unreasonable.

Read that again.

It is not about not having enough time. It is about what you are choosing to pile on your plate and why!

Whenever you find yourself thinking that you don’t have enough time, I challenge you to take a hard look at all the things you have put on your list and ask yourself “why” for each and every one. Why do you think you need to cook a fresh meal every night of the week, why do you need a read the newspaper every day, why are you committing to a book club? Underneath all of our to-do list tasks are often a series of shoulds as well as a desire to feel accomplished and have others see you that way as well.

Are those good enough reasons for you to run this hard?

You are amazing, just as you are, without anything more. But unless and until you believe that, you will also be pursuing an unattainable form of happiness. You will never “have enough time.” It all comes down to our relationship with ourselves. If you aren’t investing in that relationships first, everything else you are doing in this life is just noise.

Stop this madness and start reconnecting with your intrinsic value. Sign up for a free session and let’s see if we can get to the root of this mania and find you more time for real happiness.

How Setting Priorities Can Free Your Time

Setting priorities seems like a such a no-brainer self-help topic. Boring, simple, we get it, Autumn. Moving on…

But if you ever find yourself saying you “don’t have enough time,” you are likely suffering from the failure to set and honor priorities.

Setting priorities allows you perspective to focus.

That renewed focus and clarity that comes from setting priorities can be a magical tool for finding more time.

One of the reasons so many of us struggle to “find the time” is because we are not being decisive about how we spend our time. We take everything that comes at us.

We live our days drinking from the fire hose.

We check every email that comes in, we answer every phone call, we review every text message, we answer every knock at our door. We allow all those daily interruptions be more important than what we were currently engrossed in.

We allow little distractions to be our priority in that moment.

Setting priorities allows us to determine where we are going to focus our energy in any given day. That perspective allows us to be thoughtful about how we answer those interruptions and distractions.

If you are working on your top priority project for the day, why are you answering that knock at your door? Why are you keeping up with your emails in real time?

Think about when you are on an important deadline that is fast approaching and how everything else loses its ability to distract you. Suddenly, you are a master at saying “no,” at silencing your phone or emails for 2 hours, at ignoring those knocks on your door.

When you set priorities you can access that focus and determination at any time.

When you set priorities you allow yourself the freedom to starting flexing your “no” muscle so that you can stay focused.

Setting priorities is a fluid practice. I start each day by writing out my work priorities for the day. Each week, I write out my priorities for that week. Each week is different.

If you don’t have clear priorities established before your start calendaring your week, you will set yourself up for a disaster: a calendar full of 10 million things, none of which are consistent with what you really want for your life. When you have your priorities clear, you can schedule those tasks first and fold in the rest.

When we find ourselves running out of time, what we really mean is that we run of time for the things that really matter to us.

This happens because we are allowing the minutia to fill our calendars before we schedule our priority items. It’s easier to go with the flow and get distracted at every turn. Honoring priorities and saying “no” is hard.

Do the hard work and start focusing on what’s important to you. The rest can wait.

Don’t jump out of bed and start running the marathon right away. Take a moment and chart the course before you start the race.

By allowing every distraction that comes into our lives to take top priority in that moment, you are failing to set and honor clear priorities.

This seems like a simple practice but it requires you to commit to yourself and honor your goals. Need support? Sign up for a free session now.

Want to get an in-depth look at how to find more time and get more done? Check out my FREE on-demand webinar, Find More Time, Get More Done for Attorneys. (And yes, it works for non-lawyers too.)

The BS of Busyness

Most of my clients have areas of their lives that they want to improve upon. Some want to eat healthier, others want to spend more time on their hobbies or with their children, yet others want to get back into shape or develop a meditation practice. I suspect that you, gentle reader, have a laundry list of things that you would like to spend your time doing but you can “never seem to find the time.” That is the most common explanation I get for these challenges –

I just don’t have time . . . I’m so busy . . . my kids are so consuming . . . my job consumes all my time.

So many of us blame Father Time for our inability to have the work-life balance we so desperately seek. Unfortunately, time is not what is really standing in your way. YOU are standing in your own way. The “busyness” that so many people use as a badge of honor is nothing but a cover story for being disorganized and not managing themselves properly.

Think about it. Time is the greatest equalizer. We all have the same amount. Rich and successful people are not given more time than the rest of us. Sure, having piles of cash lying around can allow you to spend your money to free up your time but that doesn’t explain how you were able to get there in the first place; it doesn’t explain how you were able to make that success that created your piles of cash.

So many successful people have commented in their bios how much they had to hustle in their early days to make things happen, to pursue their passion for writing, or their painting hobby, or whatever it was that lead to their success. They wanted to have time for those things and they made it happen. They didn’t magically buy more time.

They didn’t run around exclaiming about how busy they were and didn’t have time for their passions.

People make time for what’s important to them.

In order to have the life you want, you might have to sacrifice a few things. You might have to spend 10 minutes getting ready instead of 30 so that you can squeeze in a 20 minute meditation before you go to work. You might have to get up at 4:30am to spend some time writing or reading before everyone else gets up – this may mean you have to start going to bed at 9pm instead of 10pm and you miss the late night news. Guess what, you can catch a news podcast in the morning on your drive to work. No harm, no foul. It’s all about your priorities and choices.

Whatever you are wanting more of in your life is simply something you are choosing not to make a priority.

I see so many people that want that success, they want to be a published author or they dream about running a marathon but they are not willing to make it a priority and rearrange their lives in honor of that priority.

We want the glory but we don’t want to reach for it. We want that success but we aren’t willing to be uncomfortable to get there.

I have my clients work through a few different exercises to try and banish the busyness demon. For those clients who are convinced they simply “do not have enough time” for XYZ, I ask them to keep a detailed list of how they spend their days, every day, for one month, down to the minutes of every hour.

The results are always mind blowing – did you know you were wasting 1 hour every week night cooking dinner when you could spend 2 hours on Sunday meal prepping instead? The could earn you 3 extra hours a week during those precious week nights! Or did you know you spend 30 minutes in the shower every day? What if you spent 15 minutes and used the remaining 15 to read the paper every morning or start plowing through those piles of books you want to read? Twenty minute commute? Use it to learn that second language or listen to audiobooks.

The possibilities are endless. This can be such a freeing exercise and opportunity to truly look at your life – what are you making a priority? Take a look and approach the experiment with honesty and curiosity.

The second exercise is to practice diligence and commitment to yourself and your goals. This is done by careful planning ahead of time. Making your calendar your greatest friend and ally.

Making commitments to tasks in furtherance of your goal, putting them on your calendar and honoring your commitment to yourself.

If you want to start a business, break it down into bite-sized steps and put each step on your calendar. As the events come up, honor them as if they were a meeting with the CEO of your company. Do not reschedule them.

Commitment creates results and builds momentum but only if you let it.

After working through these exercises, I believe you will come to see that busyness is not a symbol of importance or productivity but rather an indication of mismanaged time and scattered planning. I hope you can use these tools get over “busyness” and make space for your true priorities.

Learning to manage you energy and honoring commitment is at the heart of the coaching relationship. Learn these skills with me and commit to your new future.