Finding more time to do the things we love is hard. What with work, household tasks, and a never-ending list of commitments piling up, it often feels like there aren't enough hours in the day. I was in that position. As a freelancer, I never felt like I was on top of my workload. As a mother, I felt like I had one eye on something else while I was with my daughter: the laundry, or the dinner, or that email I had to reply to. So I decided to take control of my time and managed to free up some much-needed breathing space every day with one (relatively) simple change: I wrote down a schedule.
As a fan of lists and routines, this wasn't a hard thing for me to create. I'm not spontaneous, so I didn't feel restricted by a schedule. But as a procrastinator, it was a bit of a challenge to stick to it to begin with. However, it's been so worth it. You can free up windows of space in your day by locking down particular tasks into particular slots. I wrote out my week from Monday to Friday and then figured out when I wanted to free up time to start new activities (yoga class and swimming). This gave me the motivation to attempt to fit everything else into the same amount of hours.
I allocated a certain amount of time to complete things and even scheduled what I'd be eating for lunch and dinner each day. I didn't put pressure on myself to follow my routine rigidly, but it gave me some shape to my week. By following the plan, I proved to myself that I could get everything done, and I felt more on top of things by knowing what I needed to achieve each day. By compartmentalising, I was able to create some downtime to enjoy without any niggling doubt that I should be getting on with something else.
Some of the changes that went hand in hand with this new, scheduled approach to my day included moving from multitasking to single-task focus. Rather than flitting from task to task without ever really finishing anything, I now have allocated time slots to achieve each thing. This has helped me find more peace in my day-to-day life, too, by being more mindful and in the present moment.
Prioritising is one of the most important ways to keep the day moving, and it's a key factor in avoiding those things that waste time at work. I scheduled in the less-appealing tasks and the things that were more time-sensitive early on so that I didn't have them hanging over my head. Simply knowing what I needed to do and when freed up a load of time usually spent trying to juggle what felt like an overwhelming deluge. I discovered that routines and schedules can be your best friend when you want more time. And who doesn't want more of that?