The Only Way to Feel Like You Have More Time in your Day
I wanted to title this post “How to get more time in your day” but then I realized that is technically not possible.
But the good news is that there is something you can do to feel like you have more time your day. Click the video below to learn more:
I’m sure everyone reading along right now would love to have more time in the day to get things done. We all have to-do lists a mile long plus a plethora of things we’d enjoy doing if only we had the time.
So often it’s the day-in and day-out tasks that quickly become overwhelming. Laundry. Dishes. Cooking dinner. Dealing with paper that’s come in that day. These tasks that have to happen every single day can very quickly zap our time and mental energy.
The key is to make everyday tasks a habit. When you form a habit you take an action that was taking a ton of time and mental energy and make it easier. The goal is to make the action second nature so that you don’t even have to think about the fact that you’re doing it.
Instead of anticipating washing the dishes, debating whether or not it’s even worth it to wash the dishes tonight of if they can wait for tomorrow, and dreading washing the dishes – if washing the dishes right after dinner was a bonafide habit, you wouldn’t have to spend so much precious mental energy debating with yourself and negatively anticipating what you need to do.
Once you have a system down to the point that it doesn’t take much thinking on your part, it relieves so much stress and mental pressure. Also, It often literally takes less time when you don’t let things pile up into an overwhelming mess. Less time. Less mental energy. That right there is a winning combination that will help you feel like you have more time in your day!
But let me be honest with you: forming habits isn’t easy. There’s no magic 1-2-3 formula you can follow. But I do have a few tips to help you on your journey of forming habits.
First of all, it’s important to focus on only ONE thing at a time. If you try and do it all, you won’t be able to do any. Your brain can’t focus on everything at once, so pick one habit and stick it out until it is second nature.
It’s also important to make your habit a task that happens every single day. It’s a lot harder to form a habit that you only have to complete a few times a week. When you’ve committed to an every day habit, there’s no arguing with yourself about whether or not you should do it today or leave it for tomorrow.
So how do you know when something is a habit?
Well, it’s a bit elusive. An action is a habit when it feels second nature to complete the task. It’s not something you can really measure or force. It may take several months, but eventually you’ll realize that the task you really had to focus on in order to complete a few months ago now happens every single day and you hardly give it a second thought.
It’s really one of those things where one day you’ll look back and see, “Oh wow! This IS a habit now!”
Now let’s troubleshoot some of the issues you may encounter when forming new habits.
I said it before but I’ll say it once more here: make sure you aren’t tackling too much at once.
It may even be that you need to make the habit easier. If you’re trying to wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry each and every day and it’s just not happening, make it simpler. Make the goal to simply get the laundry in the wash every day. Once you’ve done that you can layer on drying and then folding and then eventually putting away.
There’s actually a book that I love called Tiny Habits that talks about this concept. The author said he made it his goal to floss just one tooth every single day. It sounds silly, right? But starting by flossing just one tooth day in and day out led him to forming a solid habit of flossing every day.
Another tactic you can try if your habits just aren’t sticking is habit stacking. Attach the habit you’re working to form to a task that you already do every day. You probably have lots of habits that you don’t even think about: getting dressed, making coffee, or filling up your water bottle for the day.
What if every morning after you filled up your water bottle you toss a load of laundry in the wash? That will give you a time marker to trigger your memory that, “Ok! It’s time to start that load of laundry.”
And let me tell you, don’t give into the temptation to throw in the towel too soon. If you’ve hung around Get Organized HQ for long you’ve probably heard me tell the story of the time I set up a Wash Your Dishes challenge for my followers. It was at a time when my daughter was an infant and she wouldn’t hardly sleep for 20 minutes straight. I was exhausted. On day two of the challenge I got her put down, completely forgot that the challenge was even happening, and went to bed with a sink full of dirty dishes. When I woke up in the morning I was appalled! I had just asked all my followers to follow along on this challenge and I had failed on day two! I wanted to rip my printable tracker right off the wall and forget the whole thing had ever happened. But then it hit me that there were still 28 days left in the challenge, and it would be far better to wash my dishes for 29 out of 30 days than to give up just because I missed day two. So on day three, I washed my dishes. And you know what? I completed the challenge and didn’t miss another day!
I say all that to say that bad days happen. If you miss a day, don’t let that get you down. Simply pick right back up the next day!
It’s also important to reward yourself for a job well done. Now when we think of rewards we typically think of something really big: a new purse or a spa day. But I’m talking about something as simple as saying “Yes! I did it!” when you complete your habit for the day. Try it – it’s surprisingly satisfying! The more you can celebrate right after you complete your habit each day, the more your brain will associate positivity with your new habit. You’d probably be amazed at how often you don’t even take two seconds to appreciate the good you are doing each day. So the next time you complete your habit for the day, take a moment to pause and feel good about it! Personally, I love using a habit tracker like the one in the Get Organized HQ Planner. Just checking off that I completed my task each day gives me such a rush of satisfaction.
And lastly, watch your self talk. This goes hand in hand with rewarding yourself, but it’s simply a fact that often our self talk is shockingly negative. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the things that we are missing or that aren’t going well. You’ll often live up or down to the expectations you set for yourself, and if you call yourself a failure often enough, you’re liable to start believing yourself. Make it a practice to affirm to yourself the positive things that you want to be true about yourself. Tell yourself that you are a person who gets things done, who arrives on time, and who follows through. I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly you start living up to the person you believe you can be!
Hopefully these tips have helped you on your own habit forming journey. In short, stick with it, don’t give up too soon, and believe in yourself!
Thanks for sharing your own difficulties with establishing habits — it is so human and vulnerable. Your story about the dishes models for me how to handle the difficulty and gives me hope
Heather Earle Says
At this moment in time. this article on forming habit and making goals is just what I needed.
Marie-France Lamothe Says
Thank you for this post! Creating habits has made such a huge difference for me. Love your story about the dishes challenge. Such a great example! I recently read the book “Tiny Leaps, Big Changes” by Gregg Clunis and highly recommend it. He gives lots of great practical advice on strategies you can use to be more efficient with your time and reach your goals. Thanks for all your great advice Laura! I really enjoy your work. 🙂