by Melissa Matthews
In life and business, things can appear to be going well from the outside looking in. You have the nice place to live, the car, the dog and 2.5 kids. You are earning good money [insert your definition here] or damn close to it but it doesn’t feel right.
The running of your business(es) feels stressful. Like you are working harder for yourself than smarter— trading money for time. But, without the gains you signed up for… “me time,” “family time,” and/or “quality time.” It can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to “fix it.”
The truth is you don’t “fix it.” You’ve got to change it! But first, you have to know what needs changing. These few steps can help you figure out how or if you want to change it.
Negate the Noise: Take an hour out of your day. UNPLUG every single device or tool that connects you to the outside world. Take out a piece of paper and a sharpened pencil. Close your eyes and imagine your perfect day. Draw it or write it out. Sit with it for 15 minutes, make sure ALL the details sit well with you. Take another sheet of paper, fold it in half and translate that vision into time. From the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed. Account for how you want to spend every single hour. On the other half of the paper, write down your complete schedule as it is now or as close to it as possible. Decide on or two things that you want to cut out immediately to get you closer to your vision.
Automate or Eliminate: Choose three more activities that you want to stop doing. Make a list with one side titled “Necessary” and the other “Unnecessary.” For the necessary tasks, you’ll want to delegate and/or automate them. Hire a virtual or personal assistant; get a team member; a family member or your spouse to agree to do that task. Anything on the unnecessary column, stop doing it! Commit to never do it again under any circumstances.
Reclaim Your Time: Take a page from Congresswoman, Maxine Waters and reclaim your time. For every task that you cut from your schedule, add an activity from your vision. Whether that is activity is a family dinner; a trip to the gym; meditation; or reading time, schedule it in. The same way you would work or a commitment to someone else.
Check-in with Yourself: It takes 21 days to build a habit. Keep a journal about your changes. After the first three weeks of your new routine, take an hour to check in with yourself. Do the timetable again and assess whether you are feeling any closer to your vision. If so, keep it up. Rinse and repeat the cycle every 6-12 months to stay on track.
If not, ask yourself what you have left undone? Is there a deeper issue than time? Consider making larger or more meaningful shifts in your life. Change the people or shift your mindset. Consider counseling or a change or environment. Whatever you do, commit to understanding if the juice is worth the squeeze.
Melissa A. Matthews is a 33-year-old storyteller and entrepreneur. She lives and works in Trinidad, West Indies. Melissa tells stories through her Arts N Farts Podcast. Her blog, Artpreneur Guide; and her children’s book series, The Adventures of Makaynuh. She helps others tell their stories through MAM Squared Limited; the training business she co-owns with her twin sister, Michele.