If multitasking has taken over your life, it's time to reassess—and find lost time with these pro tips
Dual screens, 10 open tabs, back-to-back meetings: In a more-hectic-than-ever world, it's easy to think you don't have time for anything (let alone everything that's already on your To Do list).
Think about it: How often have you said "I'm too busy" to avoid the gym, your in-laws, or even a night out with friends?
After all, as her book title reveals, there are 168 hours in a week. "If you work 50 and sleep eight hours a night, that leaves 62 hours for other things. Even if you have a full personal life, that's a lot of time."
So how do you ditch the frazzled feeling? Vanderkam reveals three common mistakes we all make—and their time-saving solutions.
(And note: Feeling burnt out; unhappy with life; or not taking care of yourself—skimping on sleep, nutrition, or exercise—could all be signs busy-ness is getting the best of you. So if you're feeling down, touch base with your doc.)
Mistake #1: You Try to Cram Everything Into 24 Hours
Make more time: "Start viewing your life in terms of one week instead of a day," says Vanderkam. And schedule it that way! For example, you don't have to exercise at the same exact time every day or mentor younger colleagues Monday through Friday, she says. Strive, instead, to sweat four times a week—at different times throughout the week, if that works best for you (we like The 'I'm-Too-Busy-To-Work-Out' Workout); and schedule 30 minutes on Friday afternoons to chat with that junior account manager over coffee.
Why it'll work: "A week is the cycle of life as we live it," says Vanderkam. "Things do not have to happen every day at the same time in order to matter in your life." Making time for your priorities over a seven-day span (instead of during a 12-hour window) will bring ease to rushed day-to-days.
Mistake #2: You Procrastinate
Make more time: If you tend to leave the projects you really don't want to do until 2 or 3 p.m., you're just buying yourself a late night, says Vanderkam. The fix? "Before you leave work each night, figure out your top two to three priorities for the next day. When you get to work in the morning, tackle those first." Save emails and little administrative tasks until the big stuff is done, she adds.
Why it'll work: "We tend to have the most discipline and energy first thing in the morning," she says. "That means you can tackle the meaty stuff."
Mistake #3: You've Turned Weekends Into a Death March of Chores and Errands
Make more time: Limit your chore time to a set window on weekends—or you'll dread them the same way you dread Monday mornings (the Sunday Scaries are real, people)! Vanderkam suggests taking care of whatever you can from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, for example, and leaving the rest of the day for yourself.
Why it'll work: "Chores and errands are like email. They expand to fill all available space," says Vanderkam. In order to have time for the fun stuff, you have to choose to spend less time on errands every now and then, she adds.