Julie Wright of (W)right On Communications posted a comment on my blog yesterday:

“This is a great post, but I’m clamoring for a follow up post on the need for a 28-hour day. What do you say?”

I say, I’ll take your challenge, Julie Wright! And thanks for the idea!

As summer quickly flies away, and the world around us slips out of sleepy summer mode into the normal post-Labour Day madness, we’re all thinking about ways we can maximize our time and minimize our stress and exhaustion. Each year, we say to ourselves “This year will be different. There will be no more morning rushing around, no more late nights replying to emails, no more traffic, no more sleepless nights.”

Over the past few years, I’ve been working hard at streamlining my life to the point where I really do feel like I’m living a 28-hour day. I am more productive in my personal and professional life than ever before, and here is some of what I’ve learned.

Get Help
The single most life-altering thing I’ve done in the past year is hire a cleaning lady.  I love to have a clean house, but I hate cleaning. Having a dirty house stresses me out. I will sit and worry and fester that the bathtub needs to be cleaned. We also have four pets, which means that every week there is at least one other pet’s-worth of fur lying around the floor and furniture.  I really don’t want to have to spend any time cleaning. So I outsourced it. It has changed my life, and I am telling you, it is worth every penny. So give up the daily latte, and get yourself someone to clean your place.

Set Daily Goals
Every morning, I spend an extra 5 minutes in bed. It’s an investment in my day. You see, when I first wake up, my mind is at the clearest it will be all day. So it’s the perfect time to set my goals. I lie there, stare at the ceiling, and make my mental checklist of everything I need to get accomplished that day. Then I prioritize. Anything that’s lower on the list, if it doesn’t get done today, can wait till tomorrow. If you choose, you can write stuff down in a notebook, but I like to do it this way because it helps me to get straight in my mind first. Then I can go down to my office and write lists till my heart’s content. Think of this morning goal setting session as a sort of meditation. It’s not a time to worry about everything that has to be done. It’s a time to set your plan. And it will save you from that scatter-brained feeling we all get when we have too much to do at once.

Plan Ahead
I have a friend who is a single mom with two young children. Both kids are in pre-school. She has a busy career, social engagements, and a house to run. Keeping the kids organized is key. The thing I see her do that saves the MOST time in her day is this. As SOON as she gets the kids home from school, she gets them settled with some sort of activity, and then unpacks their lunchboxes. But instead of putting them away, she IMMEDIATELY re-packs them for the next day. How brilliant is that! Now, she doesn’t have to even think about the lunches again until tomorrow. She can spend time enjoying her family, and in the morning it’s just grab and go. My point is, a little bit of planning ahead goes a long, long way. Just getting one simple task done ahead of time can save you tremendous amounts of time and grief in the long run.

One Thing at a Time
I’ve just finished reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”. In it, he talks about focusing on only the present moment. The past is gone. The future isn’t here yet. What’s the point in concerning yourself with either? Take your days one thing at a time. Don’t worry about the end result, worry about the process of getting there. Don’t think about all you have to do, think about what you are doing at this very moment.

The truth is, we DON’T have 28 hours in a day. But time is really irrelevant. If you ask Tolle, it’s an illusion. And I tend to agree. All you really have is right now. So focus on what you are doing at this moment, and not only will you be in a space that allows you to be open to experience and creativity, you will also enjoy the ride a lot more.

photo credit RBerteig from Flickr