Erin Coupe is a real estate executive and guest columnist for Catalyst. This article originally appeared on Coupe’s LinkedIn.
I get asked a lot how I have time to live my life.
“Wow! You have two toddlers! Aren’t you exhausted all the time?”
“You have time to focus on business development? I could never do that kind of work. How do you do that on top of servicing your clients?”
“How do you have the time to work, spend time with your family, and make your health and wellness a priority?”
These questions give me pause. The way we look at time, and how we spend it, is all about perspective. I have 24 hours in my day, just like anyone else. But when people ask me how I fit everything in, I realize how we feel about the time we have is different.
I think these questions come from a feeling of being overwhelmed. People’s incredulity at my schedule stems from the fact that they don’t feel like they have enough time of their own.
But they do. And so do you. It’s all a matter of how you perceive your time. Here are my tricks to making the most of mine:
Don’t Find the Time, Create the Space
Time is a finite resource. But don’t let this cripple you! Use the parameters to create a schedule that maximizes every minute.
You can’t go about your day hoping for enough time to squeeze in meditation or the next chapter in the book you’ve been reading. You have to create time to do those things. As a working mother with two young kids, my “me time” is invaluable. Every Monday-Thursday, I wake up at 5:15 to have 45 minutes before anyone in my house is awake to spend time with myself, doing whatever I want. I know that there’s no way I would “find” time to do this if I stopped creating the space for me to be alone, so I put in the effort to do so to ensure I’m using my time to do what’s best for me.
Know When to Move On
Early in my career, I would use my limited time as an excuse to procrastinate. If there was something that I wasn’t excited about doing, it would fall into the default pile of things that I “didn’t have enough time for.”
Identify what these tasks are for you, and recognize that if you truly want something, you will always have time for it. But if you aren’t psyched about a task, that’s okay. Understand why, and decide if it’s still important to you that it gets done. If it is, get it done! If not, don’t waste more time or energy putting it off—just move on.
Swap out Busy with Full
We all have a lot going on, and complaining about it only adds to the congestion. Instead of worrying about how busy you are, think about how full your life is. Every obligation is a sign that people around you are depending on you. You are an integral part of a community, a workplace, a family, and friendships. That to-do list doesn’t look so ominous now, does it? Making the most out of your time really comes down to your perspective; if you’re positive about what’s going on in your life, it’s easier to get things done.
Reframe Work-Life Balance
Everyday requires you to spend your time differently. A huge project at work means spending more hours on the computer, while family matters may mean holding off on work for a bit, skipping the gym, and eating takeout. I look at my life as one whole picture, rather than separate parts. Work isn’t something that needs to get done in order to have fun, it’s an important part of life that deserves as much attention and gratitude as anything else.
Integration is key to being able to do this. I don’t sit down from 9-5 and only think about work. I begin working on my commute to the office and during the day I carve out time for meetings, focus on business strategy, or schedule appointments. I work on my commute home and focus on my family when I get there. Once my kids are in bed, I finish up some more work. So yes, I’m technically “working” from 6am to 11pm, but I’m also doing so much more than that and it’s all integrated into those 16 plus hours. I’m using my time to consistently achieve success in various aspects of my life. Whatever your schedule looks like, you can do the same. Cast aside the idea that certain things need to get done within certain blocks of time.
Revolutionizing your relationship with time is a process that, ironically, requires quite a bit of it. You have to make conscious changes to your perception time and how you shape your life around it. Practice being mindful of these things and you just might find that instead of asking someone how they have time to do what they do, people will be the ones asking you.