In delivering coaching it is not uncommon to come across clients who say that their lives are so busy that they do not have the time to study, exercise, take on additional work, spend time with the kids, etc. To be fair to each of them, they are indeed usually very busy people. Our lives today are extraordinarily demanding between career, family, personal development, exercise, hobbies (if that’s even possible!) and with the introduction of the internet, albeit, with all of its benefits, it has resulted in us feeling that we must be logged in and online 24/7.

Lets do a simple 20 minute exercise. Write down your typical weekly schedule Monday through to Sunday. Account for every half hour from the moment you rise in the morning to the moment that you retire to bed. Don’t exclude any activity but don’t exaggerate either.

For most of us, there are portions of the day that are what I call ‘potential growth opportunities’. These are those parts of our day that are being underutilised completely e.g. watching two hours of box sets three evenings week or staying in bed until 11am on Sunday mornings. Similarly, there are often parts of our day not being used to their maximum potential e.g. listening to the radio on our daily morning commute to work/college for five hours each week instead of reading a book or listening to a podcast to develop ourselves.

Its really about prioritisation. Are you happy with life? I mean ‘really’ happy. If you are, then by all means carry on with what you are doing. This isn’t about imposing values upon anyone. If however, you would like to develop yourself further as a human being, if you would like to create greater opportunity, choice and control into your life then you might like to try these out. Here are 6 simple practical suggestions for using your time more effectively.

  1. Firstly, get up earlier each morning. For the last ten years I have gotten up 90 minutes earlier in order to exercise. I used to complain that I didn’t have the time for exercise as I was too busy. Today, I feel better, look better and have more energy than ever before. This does require retiring to bed at a reasonable hour which we should be doing anyway.
  2. Listen to podcasts (many are free) in your car or when using public transport/walking during your commute each day. This is valuable time for personal development.
  3. Prepare a lunch in advance each day so that you eat healthily, save money and it frees up time for a walk, or to read a book, etc. You should be aiming to read a minimum of one or two books each month on a topic that will develop you personally and professionally.
  4. Educate yourself. Today there is no excuse not to. It doesn’t matter if no one in your family ever went to college before. It doesn’t matter if you gave up school when you were 15 years of age. You’re an adult now and education will provide you with choice and opportunity. Even if you already have a formal qualification, life long learning is a must. With any number of online options today that offer flexibility it’s a no brainer. I’ve spent more than a decade studying while working fulltime, bringing up kids and paying a mortgage. Is it tough? Yes. But is it possible? Absolutely yes! It requires a weekly time schedule and some discipline but this is your future and it is worth investing in.
  5. Talk to those closest to you. Show them your weekly schedule and those ‘potential growth areas’. Ask for their support in ‘protecting’ parts of your week so that you are afforded the time. This will involve accountability on your part and theirs. If you’re not sitting on the sofa two evenings a week with your partner like you used to, then you had better be working hard on improving yourself!
  6. Finally, ensure that you do build into your weekly schedule time for recreation, hobbies and relationships. Balance is key for success.