March 8, 2015

Rachel Strella

Time: How We Spend It and Why That Needs to Change

I've been thinking a lot about time, which seems even more scarce now that we've set our clocks to Spring Forward.

Most recently, I've been thinking about time in the context of how much we really give ourselves, especially those who are small business owners. In my last blogtime management tips, I made a promise to give myself more time for the things I want to do. I even created a Facebook group for those who want to support each other as we aim to dedicate more time to ourselves.

Since writing my most recent post, I've come across a myriad of things that have lead me to a deeper understanding of how we spend our time - both the significance of focusing on activities that move us closer to our goals and also making time for the people and things that are most important to us. The takeaways are powerful and I want to share them with you.

Increased Productivity

Shortly after I wrote the post, my ever-inquisitive and always analytical friend and colleague John Webster sent me a message. He said, “I cannot believe the goal is to set aside one hour per week.”

My response? Baby steps, John. Baby steps.

But, I digress. It seems ridiculous to set aside just one hour a week. Rather than attack my baby steps, John explained his own system for productivity and it's worthy of merit.

His work is approximately 8 to 10 hours - and 3-4 of those hours are spent exercising, thinking, reading and learning so he can do his job better. That leaves 5-6 hours for the tasks at hand. I told him that I value his input, but that I need at least 8 hours to do the task work. He responded with this:

I guarantee you that those things seem somehow get mitigated by relaxing about a third of your day. I cannot explain it, but it works. I am speaking from the been there, done that, proudly wore the tee shirt perspective. Then, my mentor Dave told me to spend more time keeping my blade sharp. I am going to hold you accountable to keeping your blade sharp.

He's right. I tried getting up earlier to get some of the task work done and workout - and my head was less muddled for the day simply because I had already knocked out some of the grunt work. The workout also helped me clear my head and even inspire a little creativity. I do have to caution you that I was a 6:30 am riser, but the time I woke up to do this was around 5:00 am. My hope is that it gets a little better, as I go.

The day after I published my post, I read a blog entitle, The Origin of the 8-Hour Work Day and Why We Should Rethink It.

The writer suggests that we manage energy, not time. He was very scientific in his approach. My biggest takeway was a tip on maximizing productivity:

Split your day into 90 min windows: Here is something I’ve started to do. Instead of looking at a 8, 6 or 10 hour work day, split it down and say you’ve got 4, 5 or however many 90 minute windows. That way you will be able to have 4 tasks that you can get done every day much more easily.

Importance of Self-Care

Good friend and former mastermind partner, Dawn Mentzer, wrote a post on stress and accountability - and funny - it released the same day as mine.

It serves as a poignant reminder that we are ultimately responsible or ourselves. And while we can't eliminate stress, we can manage it more effectively. She found that her success at dealing with stress depends on three things: exercising, eating smart and sleep - and they all work together.

Eating better makes me feel more energetic when exercising, and exercise facilitates better sleep at night, and better sleep at night makes me more inclined to exercise. My outlook, energy level, and productivity are all more optimal when I make the trio of exercise, eating well, and sleep a priority. Only I can hold myself responsible for doing those things.... But remember, if you don’t do it. No one else will do it for you.

I've been re-reading one of my favorite books - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Once again, timing is everything because I read a passage last week that put all of this into perspective.

Many of us were taught to put ourselves last... unless you fill yourself up first, you have nothing to give anybody. Therefore it is imperative that you tend to You first. Attend to your joy first. When you tend to your joy and do what makes you feel good, you are a joy to be around and you are a shining example to every child and every person in your life.

Enough said.

The more I read, learn and practice my quest for balance, the more I find that increased productivity and self-care go hand in hand. Time is valuable, sacred even. I, personally, will not take it for granted.

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