As a working mom I’m sure you’ve said out loud (more than a few times) “There’s just not enough time in the day!” With everything we have going on in our lives, it seems like a reasonable thing to exclaim. But what if you could actually create more time?
I’m sure you’ve experienced time “standing still” which usually comes from a happy experience like seeing your newborn child for the first time. You’ve probably also experienced time “dragging by” which most likely comes from a boring experience like 8 hours of tax training (not that that’s EVER happened to me ;-).
So what is causing the difference between the appearances of time “standing still” versus “dragging by”? The answer is that time is relative based on how we experience it. The way we experience time is based on how we think.
This week I’m going to share three secrets to creating more time which include our greatest ally, honoring the plan and the gift of constraint.
Secret #1 – Our greatest ally
The primitive part of our brain that is usually running our lives is motivated by three things – seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and being efficient. This is how the human species has survived since the beginning of humankind. However, humans also possess a part of the brain that gives us the unique ability to plan and make decisions ahead of time. This part is called the pre-frontal cortex and as working moms, it can be our greatest ally.
In order to evolve and actually create more time, we need to use our greatest ally to create a plan. By overriding our primitive brain, stating an amount of time to be spent on something and then following through on it, we create more time for ourselves.
The primitive brain will resist planning because planning takes extra effort and it doesn’t want to waste its energy on “such nonsense”. Some people have even come to believe that it’s best not to make plans because then they won’t set themselves up for disappointment.
If you want to create more time you will need to override the primitive brain’s resistance to planning and start creating a new habit. Once you see how much time you have wasted by not planning and how much time you can create by planning, your brain will get on board with this new way of being and will make it part of its “efficiency” role.
The situation – You have bills to pay, documents to shred, laundry to fold and dinner to make
Without planning ahead of time – You haven’t set an amount of time to do each thing so you just go from one thing to another and 2 hours passes by before you know it
With planning ahead of time – You plan on 10 minutes to pay the bills, 10 minutes to shred the documents, 20 minutes to fold laundry and 20 minutes to make dinner. You’ve spent half the amount of time because you planned how to spend your time; you have created an hour that you didn’t have without planning.
By giving your brain direction like “I am giving myself 10 minutes to complete this”, you will be amazed at how efficient and productive you will be. You will be much more focused on the task at hand and won’t be drawn to outside distractions like your phone, the TV or any other thing that competes for your attention.
The important thing to remember is that when you are planning your time, it also means planning time off, time to relax, to play and to be spontaneous. It may sound silly to plan to be spontaneous but by allowing yourself an amount of time to do whatever sparks your interest, you will create balance and create quality time.
Secret #2 – Honoring the plan
Once you’ve made a plan, you need to honor it by making it mandatory for yourself. You need to put it on your calendar and then do it no matter how you feel.
When I work with clients on the Manage Your Mind Model, they see how their actions are driven by their feelings. By taking action in spite of feeling unmotivated, they learn how to stay in integrity with what they planned to do (for help with the Manage Your Mind Model get your free copy here of “5 Simple Steps To Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
Once it’s time to take action on something you’ve planned, your primitive brain will resist. It will convince you that it’s a horrible idea, it’s much better to wait, that you probably can’t do it or that you probably shouldn’t do it.
By using your greatest ally to plan and honor the plan beforehand, you can override the objections that the primitive brain throws at you. By honoring your commitment to your plan you create time instead of wasting time caught up in indecision.
Indecision wastes so much of our time. It’s like deciding to drive from New York to Florida and half way there questioning whether you really want to go, turning back and then deciding on the return trip that you really wanted to go and turning back again. Creating time means making a decision to go, planning the trip out and honoring the plan.
This is true when you are deciding something big like a trip, when you have chosen a goal to work on or just deciding on the agenda for the day. Creating a plan and honoring it is how you create more time.
The situation – You’ve decided that you want to exercise in the morning for 30 minutes by getting up earlier
Without honoring your plan – You wake up early, your primitive brain says you really need more rest, you lay in bed arguing with yourself because you know you should follow through and before you know it you have to get up with the kids and you’ve wasted the time you were going to spend exercising
With honoring your plan – You plan to get up at 5:30 am, you have your workout clothes set out, you decide ahead of time that you are going to honor your plan no matter how you feel, you wake up on time, you feel tired and resistant but you get up anyway and you spend 30 minutes honoring your commitment which creates time for an easier morning getting the kids ready
In order to get your brain onboard when indecision has been an issue for you, you can practice the thought “There are no wrong decisions”. It’s like giving your primitive brain a pat on the shoulder and allowing it to resist but following through anyway. Remember, you are either winning or learning; there is no failure.
Secret #3 – The gift of constraint
We are bombarded with more information in a day than our ancestors were in a year. No wonder we feel overwhelmed, stressed and a lack of time to get everything done! No matter what stage we are in in our careers or with our children, it always seems like there’s something else we need to know so we can earn our “Super Mom” badge.
With so many options available to us, we can easily fall down the rabbit hole of distractions. Before we know it, hours have gone by and we’ve read every post in the working mom Facebook group we’re in, commented on a few posts, saw something about a new keto recipe, did a search on Pinterest for more keto recipes, realized that we haven’t checked work email in a few hours, start answering client’s emails, remember there’s laundry that needs to go in the dryer and notice it is getting dark so dinner needs to get started (I’m sensing a Keto theme!). This is literally a 90 minute period of my day today.
When we realize that we’ve gone into the “Look….squirrel!” mode of distraction, we know it’s time for constraint. That means we pick one thing (SERIOUSLY one thing) and stick to it until we get the result we want. It doesn’t stop us from making a list of the things that also need to get done (stressing the word NEED) but our main focus and energy goes into one thing at a time.
The situation – You’ve decided that you want to learn how to crochet, you like the idea of scrapbooking for the kids photos and your closet needs decluttering
Without constraint – You spend some time watching videos about crocheting but can’t decide where to really start so you look online at Pinterest pages about scrapbooking and get overwhelmed with all the information and options and then you go into your closet to assess what you want to keep, throw away or donate and you wind up 2 hours later exhausted from all the undone things
With constraint – You decide that decluttering is really what needs to be done so that your room feels better and you create space for any of the hobbies you decide to do afterwards. You’ve heard that the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo is really helpful for decluttering and you see that there’s a Summary of the book that can be read in less than an hour so you purchase that for your Kindle and set aside an hour to read it. You do not get distracted with reading anything else until you’ve finished the book. Then you plan a set amount of time to put into practice what it teaches and the result is a decluttered closet.
By constraining to one thing and sticking to it until you get the result you want, you create time that would have otherwise been wasted on indecision and ineffective action. Don’t waste another minute of the precious gift of your time by getting distracted with all the shiny objects vying for your attention. You’ve got time to create and not a minute to waste!
To put it all together, the process I use to create more time:
- Decide on one thing
- Make a plan
- Honor the plan
- Take action
- Get a result
- Choose what to think about the result
- Rinse and repeat
It’s the secret to my productivity, focus, peacefulness and entry into the Super Mom Club!
- The way we experience time is based on how we think.
- For a working mom, the pre-frontal cortex can be our greatest ally.
- When we use our greatest ally to create a plan, we create time instead of wasting it.
- Creating a plan and honoring it no matter what is another way we can create time.
- Using constraint to focus on one thing at a time until we get the result we want creates time where it would have been wasted on indecision
If you’d like some help creating more time, please feel free to schedule a free mini session or email me at email@example.com and we can get to work together.