6 Easy Habits to Create More Time in Your Day - Jenna Kutcher

GOAL DIGGER

6 Easy Habits to Create More Time in Your Day

Jenna Kutcher 

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My sister did a recent poll to our family and there were four options you could choose from. She asked us, if you could pick from these four options, which would you pick: a.) $500,000 b.) Having 5 extra hours in the day C.) Going back 10 years in your life or D.) Taking a full year off of work. 

Which one would you pick? Ever since becoming a mom — now times two — I feel like my time has new meaning. It’s not that my time is any more precious or valuable than yours, it’s just that I’ve gone through something – twice – that has caused me to pause and re-evaluate where my time is going and how I’m spending it. We each have the same amount of time in the day but what we can do is learn how to spend it better and in more meaningful ways. 

Let’s get into the 6 easiest habits you can incorporate now in order to create more space and time in your day, and allow for a less frantic and more peace-filled routine tomorrow!

1. Wake up just a little bit earlier.

Okay hear me out here, especially as a sleep deprived mom, sleep is foundational in our lives: I’m not saying you need to set an alarm for 4 in the morning but I AM saying that maybe just 10 or 15 extra minutes in the morning could be what you need to start the day on the right foot and help you get clear on your priorities for the day (while waking up in a less urgent way!) 

Fifteen extra minutes a day is nearly two extra hours per week of time that you can use for, well, whatever it is you’re seeking more of. Whether it’s journaling, reading, doing a little face mask, sneaking in sun salutations, or mindfully brewing your precious cup of coffee. 

Do you wish you felt less unorganized? Use that time to write down a quick plan and to-do list for your day. Do you hate feeling rushed? Use those 15 minutes to get yourself ready or prepare things for your kids before they get up. Do you wish you could feel less tension throughout your day? Start off your day with a short stretch and meditation.

Some proven ways to improve your sleep include aiming to go to bed around the same time every night, avoiding screens and blue light at least an hour before going to bed, avoiding caffeine and naps later in the day, and keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet while you sleep. We also have thoughtfully invested in sheets, pillows, and blankets that we LOVE, making bed feel like a little escape each night! If you haven’t updated your bedding since college, here’s your reminder! 

2. Set screen time and phone limits.

Get this, Americans check their phones an average of 262 times per day — that’s once every 5-and-a-half minutes, that stat makes me want to puke! And on top of that, we spend an average of nearly 3-and-a-half hours actually on our phones each day. Kind of crazy, right? But it’s not all that unbelievable since so much information lives on these little devices that come with us everywhere from email to to the news, social media to music, connection with family and friends via text messages and phone calls. It’s no wonder we’re so attached to them, and that they serve as a distraction when we’d really benefit by focusing our attention elsewhere.

If you want to create more time in your day, it can happen pretty simply by eliminating or putting limits on your own screen time and how often you allow yourself to peruse your phone. Drew and I realized a couple of years ago that we’d get into bed at night and sit on our phones and scroll mindlessly rather than connecting at the end of the day or doing something restorative for ourselves like reading. When it clicked that we didn’t want to spend our time together at night that way, we designated the bedroom a no-phone space, so we literally plug in our phones at night in a cabinet in our kitchen at dinner time and then they’re out of sight, out of mind for the rest of the evening. 

3. Set a timer for focused work. 

Studies actually suggest that the max our brains can focus on one task is 90 minutes at a time before needing a 15-minute break, and so dedicating a day or a week to getting one thing checked off your list — even if it’s a big thing — isn’t exactly motivating for your brain to conceptualize getting it done. This is why we often delay starting something or wait until the last minute, because we make a task out to be bigger or harder or more time consuming than it actually is and that paralyzes us from taking any action at all. 

So how do we combat this? By breaking down what you need to do into chunks and tackle it piece by piece in smaller windows of time, with a timer handy to keep you accountable to what your brain is able to really do.

It’s amazing that when you give yourself a smaller deadline like this to focus on completing ONE thing and one thing only, how quickly you’re actually able to get certain things done. Whether it’s the stack of bills in your drawer or putting your laundry away or writing that one email, setting a timer and simply taking focused action can quickly move the needle and yield results – not to mention, it can help you release that guilt and stress that you feel when you put things off that you know you should be doing. 

While this idea might lead you to believe that maybe you’d feel frantic or rushed, in reality you’re giving yourself the freedom within this time window to fully focus your attention, efforts, and energy on a particular task, and in a way that allows you to actually progress where you might be prone to procrastination. 

I have one of those hourglass timers on my desk that’s a 20 minute hourglass and when I really am struggling with focusing or putting off doing something that I find myself avoiding, I’ll use that timer to focus and get things done. There are also timers online if you Google the pomodoro timer or even just use the timer on your phone — set it, exit out of email and Slack, put your phone on airplane mode, and let yourself fully focus for anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes. And my advice here is to start smaller and work bigger! Your focus will be sharpened the more you do this! 

4. Prep for your day the night before.

There are so many small, seemingly quick tasks that ultimately drain a lot of our time and force us to make a ton of decisions before we’re even fully awake. Things like picking out our clothes, planning what to eat or feed your family, getting the kids’ stuff ready for school, or even writing out your to-do list for the day. 

When we save all of these quote “little” things for the day-of, they add up to take up a lot of our time. Consider what instead you can do the night before, even if it’s just one or two things that will eliminate some of those decisions to make in the morning. I’ve found the more I can prepare or know what I’ve got to tackle next, the more my brain can truly rest knowing that I’ve got a plan. 

Whether it’s laying out your clothes, prepping your food, packing lunches, having your kids school clothes ready, or even just picking up the house so it feels refreshed the next morning when you wake up, it’s proven we get decision fatigue throughout the day so if you can prep a piece or two the night before, you save yourself from trying to balance and make 100 decisions at the same time and instead set yourself up for far more success. 

5. Integrate things together.

Okay so we already know I’m NOT Team Multitask, buuuut there are a few certain scenarios where I’m a proponent of….  Let’s call it “stacking” or “integrating” certain activities to make the most of your time. I’ve recognized that we can’t always compartmentalize all of the roles we play or the ways we show up and so when we can find ways to integrate things, it allows us to achieve a little more each day. 

Now the key here is to integrate a no-brainer task with an educational yet hands-free task so that you’re getting something productive done while challenging and expanding your knowledge. So things like listening to a podcast while you’re doing the dishes, taking an online course in your ears on your commute or while you walk the dog, or putting on audiobooks while you’re in the shower.

Don’t get it twisted that you need to fill every minute of your day with enrichment, we ALL deserve to rest and that can look like chilling out on your lawn chair while you listen to an audiobook or a podcast, but for a regular fast-paced day where you normally wouldn’t have a ton of extra time for learning or pouring back into yourself, I feel like this is such an awesome way to learn on the go and knock out two important things at the same time. 

6. And finally, managing interruptions.

We talked about screen time, but what other distractions consistently pull you out of the task at hand? Man, I’ll tell you that one of the most challenging things about working from home is putting my mama hat aside and allowing myself to be in full business owner mode. It’s so easy to hear the babies and want to run in to help or play, but as so many of you know, it’s 100% okay AND necessary to let someone else care for the kids, and it’s also okay for you to give yourself the permission to spend some uninterrupted time on work.

A few things that help me are putting in earbuds that are playing ambient, non-distracting music, keeping things like water and snacks and chapstick nearby so you don’t have to run off and grab what you need in the middle of a work sesh, eliminating notifications like exiting out of email, Slack, or any other tabs that will pull you away from your task at hand, and going into a closed-off space, preferably with a door to shut so that you can work without people or pets pulling you out of your flow, like another room or if you’re like me when I record the podcast… a closet with a chair and a makeshift desk on some old boxes.

Hold yourself to putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode or leaving it in another room. Try to only check emails at the beginning and end of your day or work session to avoid getting pulled out of your tasks into someone else’s needs. I mean, why do we constantly refresh our inboxes? It’s like we’re asking for more work and distractions. Right? 

The Big Picture

In this season of life, time is my most valuable currency and I have to imagine that if you’re listening to this, it’s pretty dang important to you too. While it’s impossible for humans to to perfectly optimize every minute of our day because, hello — we’re humans — it IS possible to be a little more thoughtful and intentional with where your time is going each day, and if it’s being used in a way that feels good, and rewarding, and meaningful, then that’s what matters.

But when we don’t evaluate how our time is being spent, that’s when it’s easy to run on autopilot and end up accidentally wasting minutes and hours of our week on things that we don’t truly care about or want to be spending our time on. So take an audit of where your time is going and then try implementing one or a few of these steps into your weekly rhythm to see if you feel less pulled in a million directions and instead can experience a more peaceful flow within your work and personal life. Cheers to stewarding our time wisely and joyfully!


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  1. Daphne says:

    I love you because you give the text to your podcast. I’m more of a visual learner so I need to read what I listened to remember the gold nuggets!

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