Time is a funny thing. It’s one of the only things in life that we can never get more of. We can’t reverse it, and it’s constantly moving forward. Most of us want more of it, some of us want to slow it down, some of us rush it away, and some of us are unintentional with how we use it. To me, and the way I live my life and run my business, time is THEE most important asset I have, and I am always striving to be as intentional as I can with the time I have each and every day.
That means being productive, prioritizing important things, and using it wisely.
We live in an age that glorifies busy, and I’m doing my darndest to change the attitude and mindset that busy is not always a good thing. As business owners, we tend to treat our businesses like they’re our babies. We are completely okay with trading a 9-5//40 hour a week job for 80 hours a week working for ourselves. And with all the things that come with running a business, we tend to put the really important things on the backburner. Like our relationships (with friends, family, significant others), self care, community, and more. But here’s the thing I believe: Too busy is a myth. People make time for the things and the people that are important to them.
With that said, I love the story about the philosophy professor and his jar, and I think it’s important to share here:
Excerpts and story from: http://www.lifemastering.com/en/syltetoy_og_bayer.html
At the front of his class, he filled the jar with rocks, and asked the class if the jar was full. They replied it was. Then, he proceeded to fill the same jar with small pebbles that filled all the holes between the rocks. He asked again if the jar was full. The students replied it was. He proceeded again to fill the jar with sand, until it appeared that every bit of space in the jar was full. When asked again, the students replied that now the jar WAS full. One last time, the professor took another object- this time a glass of beer, and poured it into the jar. The beer effectively filled all the space between the sand, until the jar was at full capacity.
“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children, things that, if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car”.
The sand is everything else. The small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you”.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. Do something for the community. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.
“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”
I love that story and have always kept that in the back of my mind when I’m planning out my time. One of things I am constantly trying to prioritize is my relationships. This can be with my family, with friends, with my boyfriend, my pets, you name it! To me, relationships are one of the most valuable things a person can have, and when we don’t prioritize them, they tend to crumble and slip away. Which is why, even when we feel like we’re being pulled in a million different directions in our business and in life, it’s important to make time for the things and the people we love. Because that’s what’s going to be there at the end of your life. It’s not going to matter much how many instagram followers you had, or blog posts you wrote or money you made. What matters is how you spend your time, and who you spend it with.
So let’s dive into 8 practical ways to make time for the important relationships in our lives.
1. Make a Routine out of Quality Time with your Partner
Do you struggle to find quality time with your significant other? Make a routine out of waking up early to have coffee together, or eating dinner together every night at the same time so that you are creating a habit that involves quality time together!
2. Say NO When it’s Going to Throw you off Balance
I can confidently say that most business owners I know are people pleasers, and this leads to saying yes to every opportunity that comes our way until our schedule is so jam packed that we literally can’t take on any more or we will work ourselves to the bone. It’s vitally important to say no to things that will put your schedule over the edge and cause you to make sacrifices to the people who really matter.
Set up boundaries around your schedule and your work hours so that you know when to say no, and when to say yes to opportunities.
3. Say YES to Spontaneous Requests to Get Together
In contrast, saying NO to certain things, frees you up to say YES to the important things. Like when your kids ask you to go to the playground even when your to-do list has no end in sight. Or when your friend you haven’t seen in 6 months asks you to grab coffee even though you’re putting the pressure on yourself to get everything done before being active in the world outside your office walls.
I can almost guarantee, that even though you may be a bit stressed getting back to your workload afterwards, you will almost never regret saying yes to spontaneous requests to get together. It’s people that count, and experiences that matter most.
4. Prioritize Your Relationships
It’s important to actually write out your values and priorities and see if they match how much time is spent on each one of them. If your priorities are…
…but you’re spending 80 hours a week on your business, an hour every other week with friends, and an occasional Sunday at church, are you sure your priorities are correct? This isn’t to say that our time spent needs to be completely respective to where things are on our priority list (obviously we need to work to make money and survive!), but if you say you don’t have time for _______, what you’re really saying is you aren’t prioritizing _______. It’s like when I say I don’t have time to go to the gym. I HAVE the time, but I haven’t made it a priority. You always have time for the things you put first. Think about it.
5. Schedule Time for Relationships in Advance
I don’t know about you, but unless someone spontaneously asks me to hang out, and I say yes (see point #3), I will not spontaneously make plans, because I will always feel I am “too busy” to do something.
Which is why, I have now learned to schedule time to hang out with friends, family, my boyfriend, etc. You will be much less likely to back out on scheduled plans with someone if it’s actually on your calendar in advance, because you’ll be able to use this scheduled time as a deadline for your work day.
If I have a date night scheduled, I know that I need to plan my day to only have tasks up to X time. This means I won’t make a never ending to-do list for the day, and I’ll be okay with closing the office door at a certain time to be present during date night.
Plan it in advance by looking at your appointments for the week and see where quality time with the people you love can fit in.
6. Schedule Your Next “Hang Out” Session Before Leaving the Current Date
How often do you leave lunch with a friend and one of you says “let’s do this again soon!” and then a year later, you realized you literally haven’t seen them since. Before leaving your friend, family member, or even your partner, schedule the next time you’re going to see each other so that you can plan your schedule around this time.
This is especially important during extremely busy seasons of work/life. I could easily schedule consultations with clients every day of the week, but because I have it scheduled on my calendar that Wednesday is off for date night, or free time, I never schedule meetings on this day.
So, before you leave that lunch or coffee date, if it’s with someone you want to continuously make time for, try and get your next “date” on the calendar.
7. Cut out the Fluff
A little over a year ago, I read a quote that said, “Are you being productive, or are you just being busy?” And it really hit me hard. I think we spend so much time trying to look busy all the time –– on our phones, our laptops, etc. that we aren’t always being truly productive with our time.
Take note of things you do on a daily basis that are just time fillers, and try to cut back on them. I downloaded the “Moment” app on my phone and got a good hard reality check about how much time I was spending on certain apps every day.
When you realize how much time is wasted scrolling on Facebook every day, you will no longer use the excuse that you don’t have any time to catch up with friends over the phone. Trust me.
8. Establish Cut Off Times for Technology
This tip came from my wonderful assistant, and although I don’t do this regularly, I felt like it was something I really wanted to try to implement. If you really want to bring this to the next level, establish cut off times for your devices at night. (Ie: “After 10PM, I will not watch TV, be on my phone, or have my laptop open.”)
Then, use this time to have quality conversations with your loved ones at home, catch up on the dozens of books collecting dust on your shelves, go to the gym, etc.
And there you have it! Eight practical ways to make time for the important relationships in our lives. Remember to fill your jar with rocks first, so that those important things in your life never crumble or get lost with the sand.
Do you have another way you make time for the relationships and people in your life? Let me know in the comments!