How to Create More Time in Your Week for Yourself

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It can seem that your days are packed full, especially if you are working full time. The thought of time to yourself can sometimes seem impossible, however with a little creativity and planning there are ways that you can carve out extra time in your day. Here are a few that I have found:

Use Your Commute

Commuting doesn’t have to be dead time in your day. If you drive to work, you could turn your car into a place to learn. You could listen to an inspirational audio tape or learn a new language. If you travel by public transport you could also do this or read a book. You could use the trip to work as an opportunity to exercise either by walking, cycling  or getting off a stop early if you take public transit. If you commute half an hour each way a day, that could be five hours a week that you could spend on this new activity!

Make Sure You Take a Break

It can be easy to get into the bad habit of eating lunch at your desk and not taking a break, but wherever you work, taking a break will make you feel more refreshed and more productive when you return. If you have an hour’s lunch break, how could you use that time to maximum effect? If you really want to start a blog or a new business, could you use those five hours a week to do it? Bring your laptop in and get started. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you get focused and really use your “downtime” effectively.

Prepare Meals in Advance

I really enjoy cooking but it is often the last thing I feel like doing after being at work all day. What can you prepare in advance? Slow cookers are great. You can chop up the contents of a soup or stew (there are lots of other things you can do in them as well) in just ten minutes and then they are safe to leave on to cook while you are at work. You can then come in the door to the smell of healthy, home-cooked food! You could also freeze extra portions of food you make for those days when you are really pressed for time. Planning some meals for the week will help you be prepared and make it less likely that you will eat out or grab some drive-thru on the way home.

Bringing a packed lunch to work is another time and money saver. It will also give you more control over what you eat. Take a little time to plan your food shopping and menu at the beginning of the week; you’ll save time and ensure that you eat well.

Plan Your Week

I am not the most organized person in the world but I have found that a little planning makes a big difference. On a Sunday night, have a quick look at your week and see if there are any activities you can drop, delegate or double up. For example, if you find yourself going to the supermarket a couple of times each week, write a shopping list for the whole week and just go once. This will help you to feel more in control of your week rather than feeling like your week is in control of you. You don’t have to do everything that others ask of you. Prioritize and try to ensure that as much as possible, you are only doing things that you want to be doing. Cutting back on unnecessary or enjoyable commitments will free your time up to do more of what you want to do — or maybe to enjoy doing nothing at all!

Learn to Say No

Saying “no” is something many people struggle with but it is such a vital skill to learn. If we don’t say no sometimes, we will become overwhelmed or find that our time is filled with activities that we actually don’t want to do. There are only so many hours in the day so start to look at what you agree to and see if you can pare back — or at least only take on what appeals and is manageable. I used to say “yes” to everything and at some point, I realized I couldn’t carry on like that. I was tired all the time and felt like I was living my life for other people. Regain control! You never know, you might find you free up a lot more time than you expect to start that new hobby or business.

Cut Down Your Work Hours

This option won’t be for everyone, but if you can find ways to cut back on your expenditures, you might be able to cut your hours down and free up more time for yourself. I often hear people say that they couldn’t afford to do this, whilst continuously spending money on unnecessary things every week. Work out what your daily rate is and see if you could save that amount each week. It will help you identify what you need to do to cut your hours down. It may be easier to reach than you realize!

(Image courtesy of TheGiantVermin under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 generic license.)


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Jen Smith is a Life Coach and Mentor living in the UK. She has tried many career paths herself and now helps people achieve their goals and dreams.
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Discussion

  1. Wasim Ismail on the 14th January

    Taking time for your self is great way of taking a step back and refreshing your mind and body for your next task, some great points above, especially “Learning to say No”
    As at times you can take up so much work, and end up being over worked, and stressed which overall has an impact on your productivity.

    • Jen Smith on the 15th January

      You are right Wasim. Learning what works for yourself and setting appropriate boundaries can increase your overall sense of wellbeing and productivity. Less really is more! :)

  2. TrafficColeman on the 14th January

    Jen I get my work done before my family gets home..and once they hit the door..my internet connection is shut down..if I didn’t get it done in 8 hours. then that’s my problem..you have to know how to mange your time.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Jen Smith on the 15th January

      That is a great practice to get into. The saying that a task takes as long as the time we have allocated for it is so true. Good on you for being so disciplined and being clear about your priorities – really inspiring.

    • Daquan Wright on the 15th January

      I like how you put family first, nice to hear bro. :D

  3. Brad on the 14th January

    This is a great list. I would like to personally endorse making meals ahead of time.

    Waking up in the morning and knowing you don’t have to make your lunch is a huge psychological boost.

    • Jen Smith on the 15th January

      Thanks Brad. A little bit of menu planning really saves time, money and keeps you conscious about what you are eating, rather than eating on the hop.

  4. Bryce Christiansen on the 14th January

    These are great. I especially like the one about using the commute. I have started listening to podcasts on the drive home, by using my cell phone.

    I am finding the ride more enjoyable and learning something at the same time.

    • Jen Smith on the 15th January

      It’s great to hear about your new habit of listening to podcasts Bryan. A really efficient use of your time and as you said you are also learning!

  5. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 14th January

    Jen,

    Love these practical, creative strategies. Particularly the crock-pot suggestion. I use mine as often as I can. I love to cook too, but sometimes time is an issue.

    • Jen Smith on the 15th January

      Thanks Jennifer, I am really pleased you enjoyed this. The crock-pot is a really good time saving invention isn’t it? Love mine!

  6. Daquan Wright on the 14th January

    I think at one point time management is something everybody deals with, but for the time being I’m not on a strict time table or anything.

    I find that a regular daily todo list and some time restrictions work best for me right now. Like, there is a set time I go to bed. But no time restriction on when I study or practice web development, and of course my classes are ahead of everything else. You really just need to look at your activities through the week and make sure you’re on top of your priorities. Time management and money management are so very vital.

    • Jen Smith on the 15th January

      Hi Daquan, You sound like you have found time management ways that really work for you. We are all different and I think experimenting and finding what works best for you and your life is really what it’s all about. You are right – time and money management are so important. It helps us make the best use of our life & resources.

  7. Work From Home Ideas Guy on the 15th January

    Great tips Jen. I would add “Plan Your Time” to Planning Your Week. I find that planning 1-hour work blocks to achieve my weekly to-do’s keeps me on track and helps avoid distractions. “For the next hour I will focus solely on ____ ” works wonders for me. Thanks for the additional tips as well!

    • Jen Smith on the 17th January

      1 hour work blocks is a really good idea. Short, sharp bursts really work well and help you stay focussed for that time. Thanks for that tip and I’m glad you enjoyed this.

      Jen

  8. save time, live better on the 18th January

    All excellent ideas, Jen. Taking some time to recharge your batteries can boost your energy and give you a fresh perspective on things. In fact, it is often during our “down time” that we come up with our best ideas for solving problems or improving our lives.

    To create more downtime, one strategy is simply to do less (but accomplish more). The more we try to do, the more frenzied we feel — running around trying to get a thousand things done. But slowing down and trying to do less–but actually finish the tasks we begin–creates more time, space and quiet in our lives.

  9. John on the 20th January

    Great tips Jen.
    thanks for tips :)

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