time management

How to Add More Hours to Your Day with These 3 Magic Words

May 28, 2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes

READ TIME: 4 MINUTES

You’ve got a lot on your plate. Scratch that. You’ve got a heaping amount on your plate and there’s a little bit of gravy that’s about to drip off the edge because it’s so darn full.

You’re building a career, managing a household and doing your best to keep it all together without binge eating an entire package of Oreos on the floor of the pantry. Or wait, is the Oreo thing just me?

In her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, author Laura Vanderkam shares three methods to scale back your commitments, find more time in the day, and intentionally make room for what really matters to you.

Bonus points: they rhyme!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my friends Eliminate, Automate and Delegate.

In the last year since reading 168 Hours, these three little words – Eliminate, Automate and Delegate – have made a huge impact on how I think about my time, and have created a framework for assessing all the stuff on my calendar + to do list.

You can definitely do this too. Let’s dig in.

Eliminate

Do you really need to be doing everything that you’re doing? When you take a good hard look at what’s filling your days, chances are – probably not. Arguments you have for me right now probably include:

  • But Anna, no, I have to do all of these things.

  • I’m the only person who can do what I do.

  • I just have a really hard time saying “no” to things.

If you’re ready to start cutting, here’s an exercise I like to share with my 1-on-1 coaching clients:

  1. Make a list of all of the roles you fulfill in your life: wife, mother, business owner, division head, committee chair…

  2. List out your responsibilities under each role.

  3. Cross off 25% of those responsibilities. Seriously.

Even if you’re struggling to find that full 25%, congrats friend! You’re thinking critically about what deserves your time and attention.

Automate

Whenever I hear the word “automate,” I picture a mechanical, factory-style assembly line, so it took me a bit to wrap my head around this one – but it’s become my favorite. I’m sure you’ll pick it up much faster than I did.

Automation doesn’t have to be anything super fancy. In fact, it’s a lot like turning your mundane tasks into slow cookers – set it and forget it.

A small sampling of things you can automate and win back your time:

Online bill-pay
If you’re still paying bills with paper checks (lookin’ at you, Mom) save time by going paperless, paying online and setting up auto-pay if that’s an option.

Grocery Shopping
Now, I know I have some friends who actually feel great joy and peace by grabbing an iced latte and shuffling a cart up and down the aisles at Target – especially if you’re kid free for an hour. If that’s you, then keep living your truth. But if you’re like me and grocery shopping and big box stores are a one-way ticket to overwhelm and overspending, then give grocery delivery a shot. Shipt and Instacart are two popular options in my area, plus Wal-Mart pickup and Target Drive Up. 

Before you say – “What?! Grocery delivery? Anna, that’s for rich people!” Consider this: A typical delivery fee + tip is less around $10-15 on top of the cost of your groceries. Is more time working on your next project worth more than $15 an hour to you? What about extra time spent with your fam? For me, it’s a no-brainer.

If you’re not quite ready to take the grocery delivery plunge, or if it isn’t available in your area, Amazon Pantry (and Amazon Prime in general) is your BFF. If you’re cool with waiting a couple days, you’re skipping out on the time spent battling traffic, finding a parking spot, searching the store for everything on your shopping list, going to another store because they were out of that one thing you needed, waiting in line, buying candy and gum and a magazine at the checkout, finding your car in the parking lot – and honestly I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Meal/ingredient delivery services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron also fall under the automation umbrella too.

Social media scheduling, to-do list management, project management
If you’re doing it online, chances are there’s a program you can use to automate and streamline. Some of my favorites are:

Routines
If habits are things you do without thinking, routines are mega habits that help you get stuff done on autopilot. Morning routines, project workflows and cleaning schedules are great examples of things you can automate in order to cut out the small, unimportant decisions so you have the energy to tackle the big, hairy decisions.

Delegate

Delegation. The one that I certainly have the most trouble with, but am working on. Delegation is most readily an option for committee chairs, team leads, division heads and those of you who are managing groups of people toward a common goal. Delegating to your team members helps clear your plate AND gives them opportunities to learn and grow. If you’ve got a fear of letting go, start small.

Other ideas for delegation beyond your work group:

  • House cleaning – even just once a quarter to do that deep cleaning that makes you cringe.

  • Hiring a virtual assistant for short term tasks through online services like Upwork or Fiverr.

  • Find a local concierge service to help with errands or meal prep.

Finding more time in your day can be easier than you think! Cutting things, setting up with new systems and handing over some of your to-do list items can be challenging at first – but oh, the rewards! Your time is important, and you want to spend it doing the things that matter most to you – at work and at home.

I can’t wait to hear how Eliminating, Automating and Delegating serve you well. Let me know in the comments!  

What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

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