Feeling Trapped? Three Immediate Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Time

People ask me often how I manage to find time in the day to do all that I’m able to accomplish. When I think back over my days sometimes, I’m even exhausted looking at the schedule, and all that I accomplished! Lol, and it’s my schedule!

But on a serious note, I pivoted my relationship with time many years ago. Let me tell you, having one kid and then two kids will make you reconsider how you manage your entire life! About seven years ago, after giving birth to Sam, I felt so boxed in by my responsibilities versus my dreams. Everything seemed years, lifetimes apart, and I was overwhelmed at the thought of doing more than I was doing with my life. My mind was cluttered with current day tasks, smothered by dreams that were then stifled by my reality, as I sank deeper and deeper into the realization that “my life was not my own anymore.” What did that mean at the time? It meant that as a woman I had lost a complete sense of ownership over my life, my body (nursing moms you understand), my ambitions, and my options. Yes, I was married to the man that I adored and had a beautiful new baby, but there is no worse feeling than being trapped in your mind.

So what did I do? I broke free from the lists that were circling in my head. Ladies, you know the lists, the things that must get done today, the tasks for next week, next month, and then the list from yesterdays past that seems to haunt you as you make new lists! Yep, I decided to set myself free and give myself the mental space I needed to imagine again.

If you find yourself wrestling with time each day and questioning whether or not you’ll ever be able to make it all happen, here are a few tips that shifted my relationship with time and ultimately my productivity:

  1. DECIDE HOW YOU USE YOUR TIME! Yes, you have the power to decide whether or not you invest time, spend time or waste time.
  2.  Investing time is when you are dedicating time towards the long-term development of your goals, dreams, and visions. As a budding entrepreneur, you may be taking time that would have typically been spent with friends on Saturday to build your business plan. As a corporate employee, you might be investing time in classes that will allow you to learn skills critical towards your elevation in your company. As a wife, you might be investing time into cooking classes to sharpen your skills to cook your husband’s favorite meal. As a mom, you may be investing time into mom groups where you can learn about success tips from moms who have gone before you. Investing time is about intentionally dedicating time with an expected return on your investment. I like to invest time as a mentor because I gain the return of seeing my mentees developing personal and professional life skills.
  3.  Spending time, like spending money, means taking time from your account and allocating it towards people, places or things that are typically directed towards someone else’s needs or vision. This could be spending time at a job that is not serving your goals or spending time in a relationship with a guy who has no long-term interest or spending time with women who are not friends and don’t fit your friend type. Can you gain from spending time? Absolutely! You can achieve whatever short-term benefit that the time spent offers be it a check, companionship, or fun times. You can even learn some valuable lessons along the way, but your long-term needs are not met with time spent.
  4. Wasting time is having no intention behind your use of time, no consideration for how your use of time is impacting your long-term goals, dreams, or plans. People who waste time have not dedicated value towards their time or the time of others. When you use your time wastefully, you show no gratitude for the time you have, nor do you show interest in anything beyond the NOW. Wasting time for you could be spending hours on Instagram when you know you should be writing your book, or binging on your favorite television series when you know you should be investing time in your love relationships, or doing a quick “Walmart/Target/grocery store run” when you know you have to meal prep for the week! Wasting time is often attached to procrastination, fear, and anxiety about what it takes to get your broader goals accomplished.

So you need to take a look at how you use your time and locate the places where you’re over spending time that you need for other priorities, investing with no return and wasting too much time to make the adjustments! (Trust me, you’ll thank me later!)

  1. KILL THE LISTS! Yes, I said it, commit to the death of every list in your head that is keeping you from living in the moment! OK, I’m a woman and a mom, so of course, I understand the need to plan, manage, and prepare. But I also know that if your mind is loaded with lists, you’re probably spending the majority of your time daydreaming about a list to complete the list that completes the other list! LOL! You get my point here? Living with these lists is ridding you of the ability to happily connect at the moment. If you want a great relationship with time, you’ll need to kill the lists and get present so that you can accomplish the next step.
  2. PRIORITIZE! You can only set reasonable priorities when you’re intentional about your time, and you’ve decided that your time belongs to you. I used to say “yes” to many requests because I like helping people. I would spend time helping others but not prioritizing my own needs. Was I investing? NO, I was spending. As a result of me saying “yes,” I had a list of things to do in my head that only I could complete and couldn’t find the time to handle. My priorities were way out of order. Take it from me: set your priorities straight. Put yourself and your needs 1st, and then allow your life to be prioritized according to what nurtures your quality of life, supports your short term and long term goals, and allows you to feel good about your decisions! Don’t be moved by other people’s opinions of what you should be doing. Focus on doing what serves your life first.

“10-12 minutes invested in planning your day will save at least 2 hours of wasted time and effort throughout the day.” – from “Eat the Frog” by Brian Tracy

When I took control of my relationship with my time, I begin to see so many improvements in my quality of life! I can now enjoy conversations with my daughter Dylan about princesses without thinking about what’s for dinner or whether or not I sent that email off. I can compete with my son Sam in a video game and win because I’ve learned how to listen as he teaches me the use of the controller. I can now focus on meal prepping for the family and grocery shopping because I’ve learned to prioritize myself and my needs before the entire house’s needs! I feel good about vacations away from the kids because I know I’m investing in my health and wellness. And I can say with confidence that I am in a great relationship with my husband because I invest time into our communication, we dedicate time to be present with one another, and we prioritize our marriage before our kids. I’ve learned that when my results don’t match my desires for my life, I must immediately assess where I’ve shifted in the wrong direction and then PIVOT! I don’t get this perfect every time, but having a standard for how I connect with my time helps.

What are some of the ways that you manage your relationship with time? Share in the comments below!

If you found this post helpful, please:

  1. If you love this article, check out the following episodes from my podcast, The Great Girlfriends:
    Ep 90: You Have Enough to Start
    Ep 82: Dropping the Ball with Guest Girlfriend Tiffany Dufu
    Ep 74: What Women Want Living Richer Panel
  2. Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram and Twitter
  3. Send this article to all of your favorite girlfriends!
  4. Leave your comments below!

Be bold, be BRAVE!

Sybil.

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