Simply Woman & Home

Gain an extra hour

Make time for your passions

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Feel like you’re constantly running to catch up with everything on your to-do list? Sometimes it’s a struggle to find time to relax, exercise and enjoy that elusive ‘me time’. And when you do finally chill out, there’s that guilty nagging feeling that you should be doing something more ‘productive’. Good time management is a skill most successful people have mastered, and while it might seem difficult, you can alter any habits and become more productive. You might think you can’t get up early to exercise or don’t have enough time to see friends, but when you change your mindset, you can make the most of your time.

HAVE A FOCUS DAY

We all put things off, especially hard or boring tasks (hello, tax returns). But productivi­ty coach Clare

Evans suggests we should think about the consequenc­es of procrastin­ation – it could be costing you money if you don’t switch a supplier, lose you opportunit­ies or cause you stress. ‘On a daily basis, plan what you need to do,’ she says. ‘Which things can you drop?

What can you move?’ DO IT Evans encourages her clients to have a focus day,

which you use to achieve one big thing, such as declutteri­ng your house or just powering through your to-do list. She suggests setting a timer or checking in with a friend and agreeing what you’ll achieve. Motivation­al speaker Adrienne Herbert swears by the saying ‘Swallow the frog’ – which is simply do that thing you don’t want to do straight away, which then frees up your day. She also suggests a small reward – a coffee, going for a walk, reading a magazine – to incentivis­e yourself for doing a difficult task.

RECLAIM THOSE NEEDED HOURS

Sometimes it feels like we haven’t got enough hours in the day to achieve everything we want to, but we have the same amount of hours as everyone else. Evans suggests making a simple log of your day: ‘Look at where your time is going – how long are you spending on work, cooking, cleaning and looking after everybody else? Then ask yourself, what needs to change for me? Make your health and happiness priorities – exercise, eating well and looking after yourself shouldn’t be an afterthoug­ht.’ DO IT Adrienne Herbert’s new book,

Power Hour, is all about taking the first hour of each day to focus on what you want to achieve. Herbert gets up at 5.30am every morning, before the rest of her household is awake. Over the years she’s used that time to train for a marathon, do online courses, meditate and write her book. ‘The Power Hour is about reclaiming your time,’ she says. ‘It’s not selfish, self-indulgent or luxurious to have an hour in the morning to do something for yourself.’

You don’t have to get up at 5.30am, but your Power Hour should be early, Herbert says, or distractio­ns – children, partners, emails – start encroachin­g. ‘There’s a stillness and solitude that’s hard to cultivate later in the day,’ she says. Want to make it easier for yourself to be up with the larks? If you’re using your Power Hour to exercise, set your intention by putting your workout clothes next to your bed the night before.

LEARN TO SAY ‘NO’

Often we find ourselves burning out because we’ve said ‘yes’ to everything – the work project, the drink with the neighbours, the weekend away. Evans says that’s not a bad thing, as long as you really want to do those things: ‘If you plan and prioritise your time, when these requests come in, you’ll have a much better idea of whether you can say “Yes I have time for that and it’s something I want to do” or if you need to say no and respect your time.’ She adds that every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else – and that might be your free time, your exercise time or time for another project. DO IT ‘No is a full sentence,’ says Herbert. ‘It may be hard not to follow up with an explanatio­n or apology, but you have no obligation to say yes to requests.’

DISCOVER YOUR PRIORITIES

Prioritisi­ng makes everything in your life flow better. Find a way of marking high-priority tasks on your to-do-list; this could be as simple as colouring them in red, amber and green. So you’ve worked out the most important things to do today, but what about long-term?

Herbert has a bucket list of life achievemen­ts that she ticks off – hers include living in Italy, learning to snowboard and getting a dog, but yours must be personal. Do you want to make more time to volunteer, discover new places or learn a new language?

DO IT Herbert has a great exercise for helping you think about your longerterm priorities. She says, ‘Imagine you meet a friend exactly a year from today, and you’re telling her you’ve just had the best year of your life. What would need to happen in the next 365 days to make that story true? Start with your end goal in mind, and reverse the steps that you need to take to get there.’

‘Make your health and happiness priorities’

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