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3 Ways that Spending Time Actually Makes Time

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When I ask women, and in particular busy moms, what their biggest obstacle to staying healthy is, two answers seems to always rise to the top.

No time and no energy.

We feel suffocated with the amount of things on our plate and the dizzying, non-stop pace that life is happening.   We often can not imagine how we would make the time to care for ourselves.

Many moms also feel exhausted and drained...and not only at the end of the day, but often all throughout the day.  This deep tiredness makes it hard to imagine how to squeeze out any more energy toward taking care of ourselves.

Today, I’d like to talk specifically about making more time in our lives to do the things we want to do…and to do the things that will make us feel a whole lot better (and more energized).

The second part of this post-series talks about the energy issue.  But both of these concepts are paradoxical in nature.  Because, in some scenarios, when we expend energy, we actually gain more of it.  And when we spend time, we open more up in our lives.

The key is what we are spending our time on, and how we are expending our energy.

Time and energy are commodities (like money), and when they are invested well, they return an even higher yield…when invested poorly, they quickly drain away.

Today I want to share 3 ways you can spend your time which will actually give you more time in your life.

1. Planning vs Preparing

There is a huge difference between planning and preparation.  If you are like me, you may love lists and organizing things.  In fact, it is easy to get a bit addicted to pulling out paper and compartmentalizing all the things you have to do in neat little rows and boxes.  At my finest, I can even be found color coding.  The problem is, planning can way too often move from a productive activity to diminishing returns. There is only so many times you can rewrite a list before you are simply wasting time.

Conversely think about preparation. When I set up my breakfast the night before so I have a smoother time in the morning, I’m spending time which makes time.  When I cook once and then utilize leftovers wisely so they are part of the next night’s meal, I’m spending time which makes time.  When I set out the family’s water glasses and vitamins on the counter so we are sure to drink and take them, I’m spending time which makes time.

The action of preparing for the things we want to include in our lives is a major investment in how we spend our hours. It helps us meet our goals and keeps us on track for what we want to remember during the day.

2. Learning New Skills

I’ve often reflected on how “simple” living in today’s society can feel quite complex and difficult at times.

If I don’t have the skills in cooking, shifting from convenience foods to home cooked meals takes a lot more time and effort.  If I don’t have the skills in sewing, making things as simple as cloth diapers feels insurmountable next to the option of simply buying them.  If I don’t know how to change a tire– I could be spending a whole afternoon by the side of the road, instead of getting the job done myself.

And if I don’t have the skills in household management (or taking care of my body or eating right or managing my stress or you fill in the blank*) than the experience of dealing with that feels overwhelming and laborious.

Once you identify those things that you struggle with most on a daily basis, seek out ways to grow and learn more about them. Become more of your own expert on the things that make up your life. In the end it saves a whole lot more than time!

3. Being Ahead of Schedule

The third way we can spend extra time in order to get more in the end, is to stay ahead of our schedule.

The biggest zapper of having an abundance of time is the experience of always being behind. When you schedule your day, be ultra realistic with how much time each thing you need to get done will take.

Something that helped me get a handle on this was mini tasking my to-do list.  Giving ourselves adequate time to complete our day’s tasks forces us to be realistic about what we can expect to do in a day and will require that we think deeply about what things we want to keep in our lives and what we need to let go of.

Another aspect is to start your day ahead of schedule. The power of having some time in the first part of your day to yourself in order to enter your day calmly and slowly, from a place of intention, can reap tremendous benefits for the rest of the day.

I know not everyone can make this happen.   For me, the infant year is a hard time to expect myself to have an hour to myself before everyone wakes, but even 15 minutes of prayer and quiet before the hum of the day begins does a spirit good and sets you up for staying on top of your day.

But I’d love to hear from you!  What ways do you spend time, which in actuality gives you back more time in your life?

p.s.: *If those skills: taking care of your body, eating right, managing your stress, ect…were ones you’d be interested in sharpening, check out my upcoming online healthy living program for busy moms here.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicki at Domestic Cents

I found myself nodding in agreement as I read this post … excellent insight. Thank you!

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Lisa

Hi Nicki!
Thanks for leaving a comment! So glad you were head bobbin’ along :)

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Netta

This is WONDERFUL!

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Gladys

I love this. It what I need.

It is a hard thing to lear to take care of ourself.

Love you blog!

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Kristin

I have to laugh at myself…I’m sitting at my laptop (on “babysitter time” which of course means wasted time = wasted money) getting ready to make a list of what bills I need to pay. But you just reminded me to SKIP THE LIST, do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars, just PAY THE BILLS. Thanks, Lisa!

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Hannah

What an excellent post. Exactly what I needed to hear. At least once a day I become hysterical inside when I think of how far behind I am, in spite of all my “planning” and good intentions.

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Lisa

Kristin– Oh yes, find myself doing that all too often as well :) Amazing what we’ll actually concoct in order to procrastinate!

Thanks Hannah! I know that “hysterical” feeling too– it’s helpful to nip it in the bud or my day is spend totally frazzled (and not a bit closer to getting things done!) :)

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Kelley

I totally hear you on the list-making. I think this ended up being huge waste of my time in college. If I had spent nearly as much time studying as I did making lists of the things I needed to study, I would have made straight As. Now, I still find myself doing that with household chores. Occasionally I just have to tell myself, do what appears to need to be done, rather than sit down here at the computer and Google task myself a list of what needs to be done and in priority order.

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Kristin

Kelley – me too on college. me too on chores. it feels really good to check something off my list, but i’m discovering it feels even better to get it and 5 other things done in the time it would have taken to make the list. Plus your google reference makes me laugh at the way i’m always searching for the latest tool to make things easier, when actually i’ve already got it at my fingertips! hahaha…..

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Marci@OvercomingBusy

I am reminded of the carpenter’s rule – measure twice, cut once. That little bit of upfront time spent can save a lot of time and stress down the road. I like efficiency and do not like doing things over. A little forethought can go a long way.

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Paige

I liked the distinction that you made between planning and preparing. In fact, I have had that running through my head all day. I prepped the backpacks last night, making lunches,etc. rather than thinking about what I would do this morning. When I imagine how this could spill over into other areas of life, this shift in thinking could be life-changing!

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Lisa

Great ideas! #2 was a new one for me – something I hadn’t thought of from that perspective before. Thank you!

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Jennifer G

This week, my son has been at VBS. My husband prefers that I stay on site with him while he is there, so I do. But this means that I am not getting things done at home. This week I have cut myself some slack and I am making a point to stay on top of only laundry (I try to do a small load every day or every other day) and on top of dishes…but no pressure to do anything else. I have actually done better this week with “no” time than I do on regular weeks with all the time in the world. I also try to make a point to have my son help me pick up his toys shortly before my husband arrives home from work (sometimes when we hear him pull into the driveway), so that he doesn’t come home to mass chaos. At least on the days he walks in and sees us cleaning, I feel good that he knows we are trying to make home comfortable for him…even if it is not quite there yet :)

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