In the past few months, my life changed drastically. I went from working on my business full-time to having a business, a day-time job, AND do EMT school on the weekends. Many of the things I was teaching in my productivity and life-balance coaching business suddenly took on a much more urgent quality for me than they had before.
I suddenly had no more time, and I had to choose very carefully what to do when if I wanted to be able to do the things that mattered. I had to set up clear priorities and hold myself to them, or pay the price. The following is things I’ve been teaching for a while, but that my experience reinforced quite powerfully as being the most important things to do when you don’t have enough time for everything:
Protect your sleep. I’ve never been someone who operates very well under sleep deprivation, and I experienced a few years ago an episode of chronic fatigue due to lack of sleep, so this is one I already had personal experience with, but it took on even more urgency. Sleep is the foundation of everything. If you don’t sleep enough, you won’t be able to function well during the day: It will impact your productivity – you’ll be slower, be less creative and make more mistakes; it will impact your relationships with others – when fatigue, we tend to be cranky and have a much shorter fuse; it’ll impact your leisure time – when I’m tired, all I have energy for is vegging in front of the TV, and I’m far from alone in this. But sleep enough and everything looks easier, life flows better, work gets done faster.
Set your priorities, carefully. I decided what where the four most important things to me then: sleep; work; EMT school; my family – not necessarily in that order. I blocked the times that had to be taken by work and EMT school – this was uncompressible time, that had to be spent that way; I plugged in the remaining time as much as I could of my business and my family. Then I let go of the rest, which included social life. Was it difficult? I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy every day. Sometimes, I would have loved to throw everything out the window and take a day off. I would have liked my house to be cleaner (it’s one of the things that I did less of during that time). But I was doing the things that I had chosen to do, that were really important to me, rather than just what was in front of me. It made it all more enjoyable, less stressful and easier than had I tried to do everything at once.
Make time for fun, no matter how little time you have. Luckily for me, EMT school was mostly fun, in that I loved what I was learning (I didn’t like the constant testing nearly as much…). Being with my family also brought me positive energy. But I made it a priority to rest, relax and enjoy myself for at least half of my one day off every week. I always taught that taking time for R&R&F (Rest, Relaxation and Fun) is essential, but this drove home for me that it’s not just essential, it’s absolutely necessary. Without those moments of rest every week, I’m not sure I would have been able to get through this period as gracefully as I did.
Fortunately, EMT school is over, which means that I have recovered almost 20 ours every week. But I’ve kept the good habits practiced during this period, and I have carefully re-assigned my priorities so that I use the time I have in a way that I productive, and/or makes me happy.
So, which one of my rules are you following? Which ones could you do better with? I invite you to embrace them, or if you only partially do, to embrace them fully. You’ll find that your life becomes a lot easier and more fulfilling. And should you have trouble figuring out how to implement those rules, I’m always here to help.