How to take charge of your time once and for all

Photo credit: Tonglé Dakum

Photo credit: Tonglé Dakum

Can you guess the number one reason clients give me when I ask them why they're still dreaming about what they want instead of doing it?

Yup. Time!

I’ve complained about not having enough time to create the things I want, too.

A few winters ago, I had an experience that erased this complaint from my Excuses Book forever. In the sweaty afterglow of my first hot yoga class, I signed up for a 30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge. Why? I could win a month of unlimited yoga classes, IF I came into the studio for a 90-minute class for 30 consecutive days.

Now there were a million reasons why this was crazy.

I already felt stretched. I was a single mom without reliable childcare and my family lived an hour away. I worked two jobs and was trying to build my doula business on the side. I was the poster child for not having enough time. (Did I mention it was the middle of winter?)

Here’s what I learned: I could create time.

I found a way to fit my yoga class in — even if it meant waking up at 5 am and dropping my son off at his grandmother’s.

Did I want to wake up at 5 am? No way! Not at first. But I just took it one day at a time. My day revolved around the question: When will I get a class in today?

And you can create time too.

That yoga class had a positive ripple effect in my life. I wasn't as irritable when my son resisted bedtime. I had more energy to concentrate on responding to the backlog of emails in my inbox. And I would wake up with creative ideas for a new blog post or free workbook.

Other people noticed too. Even my son who was only 5 at the time.  Once, when I was short with him he asked me if I’d done my yoga that day. I hadn’t. So I quickly asked my neighbor to watch him and got my butt to class.

Here are two key shifts that I used to go from wanting to make it to yoga to actually doing it:

#1 Shifting from time management to energy management

Stop trying to manage your time and focus on managing your energy instead. The first step to doing this, is to get really clear about your Big Why. Then understand how your commitment is going to give you the energy to fulfill that purpose.

My Big Why was my son. I was stressed out and I wasn’t being the mother I wanted to be.

After a particularly rough day, I decided to give yoga another try. After my first week of class, I saw how daily yoga multiplied my patience with my son which fulfilled my BIG WHY.

That was enough motivation to get me into class every day.

Your turn:

Ask yourself what important change you want to make in your life, why it’s important to you and one daily habit that will give you the energy to make that change.

#2 The second mindset shift is to stop trying to find time and create it instead.

When you say you don’t have enough time, what’s really happening is that you haven’t created the time. 

There a few common culprits.

Maybe you haven’t created the time because you don’t have the energy to make the time. If so, may I recommend moving your body in a fun way every day.

Maybe you need to do some hard things, like say NO more (especially to the people you love), or ask for help, or--ughh!--wake up earlier. (I’m not a a morning person either!)

To get through this, see mindshift #1 - this will give you the energy you need.

Then be strategic about how you use that new energy to create the space for things that really matter to you.

Your turn:

Ask yourself what can you take off your plate? Where can you ask for help or barter or swap with someone?

Going back to my yoga challenge, I might not have met my goal if it was self imposed. But the studio encouraged us and provided the accountability and community that I needed. So look for external support where you can, too.

So how can set up that supportive environment for yourself?