You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 11.
Welcome to The Design You Podcast, a show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth, and joy. Here is your host, Tobi Fairley.
Hey friends, I’m so happy you’re here with me today. Can you believe it’s summer? I mean, wow, summer… but I love it. And I especially love our pink inflatable flamingo named Frannie and she’s back in her summer home which is our pool, and I love it. She makes me smile every time I look out the window.
Yup, it’s June and this year is flying by as usual. But unlike other years that were equally fast, I’m really excited this year. Because I’ve accomplished more in the last five months than really at any other time in my life. Now, are you feeling good about your accomplishes this year too? Well, if you are then high-five baby, yeah! We’re rocking it out. And if you’re not, then today’s podcast may help you think differently about time and about how it’s flying by. And how you can use your time more effectively than ever for the rest of this year and beyond. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about time.
So first, what even is time? Well, when you look it up in the dictionary here’s one of the definitions I found. It said, “Time is the measured, or measurable period during which an action, or a process, or a condition exists or continues.” Whatever that means. So yeah, time is something that’s hard to describe, isn’t it? But we can all agree that it’s something that we think is very valuable and something that we all want more of.
So today, I want to talk about time and specifically how to use it or manage it to improve our lives and improve our profits. But I promise this isn’t just your typical time management talk. So don’t check out on me, because this is a different way, completely, of looking at and thinking about time.
So first, let’s start to look at what we do think about time. Now, for most of my life I have believed that there wasn’t enough time. And each morning for most of my adult life at least, until recently, I would wake up usually tired, even exhausted. And realized that I was already behind on my to-do list for the day before my feet even hit the ground. So I would drag myself out of bed, not very happy about it, and I would start my daily race against time, desperately trying to beat the clock all day long. And included in that race against my nemesis, time, were many moments of feeling overwhelmed or stressed because I always was telling myself that I had too much to do and not enough time to do it in. And all the while, I was adding new commitments to my do-to list each day. Into my already over-committed life. So I was mad that I had too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
So I just continued to add more things right into that over-committed life. And that sounds really pleasant doesn’t it? Like boy, I wish I had your life to be in. You know, I didn’t want it either.
That’s when things really started to change when I was realizing this is no fun. And if you’ve listened to my previous episodes of my podcast, you may have already heard and learned sort of that there came a time when I decided that this way of existing, this hustling and proving and reacting to life and racing against time every day, was really no longer an option for me. I just decided it wasn’t. I was over it, done, finished. Not going to do it anymore. Because I was realizing or thinking if this is what living the good life feels like then I’m jumping ship. There has to be more than this. But I was still, at that time and very much so today, the eternal optimist. Like I knew that there had to be more than that. And I knew there had to be another way. And I decided to figure out what that was.
Thanks to the wisdom and the inspiration of a lot of sources. But my favorite personal development sources and gurus and books and everything I found when I started the research and started the path to awareness about time. How I was using it and how I was really not creating a life I wanted on purpose, I began to craft this plan for living a life, really with more meaning. A life that was slower paced. And that included more ease and more joy. I quickly learned in my research and in my discovery process that that sort of life had to start with overhauling my relationship with time.
I was like, “Oh time. Time you tricky little thing you. I’ve got to make you my friend, not my nemesis.” And yeah, we think we have no control over time, right? We think we have to answer to time and we have to live at its mercy. But there’s so much more than that we can do about time than we really even like to admit. So I started to think about this, and I realized that that meant that if I was going to change my relationship with time I had to stop blaming time for all my problems. When you stop blaming someone or something that means you’re no longer the victim.
So I was no longer the victim of time, and I really stepped into the driver seat. But stepping into the driver seat of our own time and our own schedule means that we have to take responsibility for our actions. So there it is again, dang it. There’s that taking responsibility thing rearing its ugly head. But being in control of our own destiny, that’s a good thing. Because that means we can create the life we really dream of if we’re willing to do the work. And I was, I was willing to take responsibility, maybe for the first time ever, of my relationship with time. My calendar, my to-do list, and really every piece of this puzzle that was causing me so much pain in my life.
So more than anything, doing this hard work means that we have to consider how we use the time we do have. Who really needs more time when there’s so much we could do with the time that we already have?
So before I give you my six tips for changing your life with time, I want you to take an assessment of yourself and the way you use your time. So ask yourself this, how do I use my time? Or really ask yourself, how do I waste my time or spend my time? And then ask yourself, do I create time in my life or do I invest time? Because you know an investment is something that gets an ROI, a return. Meaning, you have something to show for it later. And if you have something to show for the time you invested, that’s a completely different situation than wasting time. And if you’re starting to create extra time in your life that’s definitely different than just spending time. So I know these sound like semantics but they’re actually a really important mental shift that you need to make around time in your own life.
So if you’re thinking, “Wait Tobi, back up a minute. Did you just say I can create time? Because last I checked there were 24 hours in a day and we all had the same 24 hours.” And you’re right, we do have the same 24 hours but we absolutely can do things that create time in our life. As typically is the case, when we’re trying to grow and improve ourselves, the way that you do this, the way that you start to create time in your life might not be exactly what you had in mind. It’s not like you just flip a switch and then it’s super easy. Oh yeah now I’m going to create some time. It takes some deliberate action but you definitely can create time. So let’s talk about that.
So Greg McKeown, who’s the author of one of my favorite books that I’ve been talking a lot about lately. I’ve read it four times. Friends, that’s how good this book is. But the book is called Essentialism, and in the book, one of my favorite quotes that he says in the whole book is he says that, “You can make individual or single decisions in your life that eliminate hundreds, or even thousands of other decisions.” I’ve proven to myself that he’s actually right. I started to make decisions in my life that eliminate dozens of future decisions and that’s exactly what creating time looks like. And I want you to figure this out for you too.
But before we start cleaning up our act with time, let’s first see where we’re spending or more likely wasting most of our time before we can start creating. So here’s what most people waste a lot of time on. Are you ready? Then get ready because you’re about to see yourself in this list a lot probably.
Okay so here’s the biggest time wasters for most of us. Worry, people pleasing, which includes doing things to build other people’s businesses or to make other people’s lives easier but not your own. So pleasing them, not you. Buffering, so what’s buffering? Well buffering, you can also call it numbing but it includes things like overeating, over drinking, scrolling Facebook, binge watching Netflix, over working or really anything that you do to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions. So buffering, huge time waster. Indecision, big one. Overwhelm and confusion, which if you’ve listened to some of my other podcasts about emotions, you’re learning that these are optional. In fact, everything on this list is optional. Okay next, taking responsibility for other people’s feelings while delegating your own feelings. So that means trying to make sure that everybody else is happy. It’s sort of like people pleasing but expecting other people to make you happy and all that stuff that goes with that process. That’s a huge time waster because you can’t control other people and they can’t control you. Okay next: gossiping, complaining, regretting or second guessing, and judging ourselves and others.
So whoa, did you see yourself on that list? Yeah, I know, me too. So on this list I would say at my most dysfunctional point where I was the biggest workaholic and I was least in control of my time, I was mostly wasting time on overwhelm, complaining, people pleasing, and emotional eating. Those are sort of my big four. And I might not even have been aware of any of them but if I was probably, really, only kind of aware of one or two. So some of it was happening subconsciously. Like do we even notice when we’re negative and complainers? A lot of times we don’t.
So take a look at this list before we start to move into creating time and see where you are guilty of wasting the most time. And imagine, really the amount of time that you are wasting. And the amount of time we would get back each day and week and month and year if we just cut out this list of things alone. And did absolutely nothing else. If you stopped the podcast right here and you just stop doing these time wasters, I bet many of us would get back a day per week or maybe more. Maybe even two days. That’s pretty eye opening isn’t it? If we’re wasting even two work days like eight or 16 hours in a week complaining, and worrying, and binge-watching Netflix. And all of those things we’ve just talked about. Wow. So making that one decision is really one of those cases where if you stop doing even one of those things that you’re actually eliminating dozens or even hundreds of other decisions in the future. If you truly just say no more of those things. Okay so, big eye opener.
Now let’s start to look at what it looks like to create time now that we know what we’ve done to waste time. So I determined, in my process of going from workaholic and with time as my nemesis to this new way of living that it required these six things, that I’m going to tell you about right now, to really change my life.
So number one, it required deciding. And by that, I mean really deciding what you want. As long as we go through the motions of life and we just take whatever comes our way and we aren’t truly in charge of our own lives, then we’re really not going to get very far with our time. That’s where other people are making the decisions and we’re just really following along. And these other people may be our spouse or our boss or our kids or the world, but at least it’s not us in charge of our own lives. And if we want to have power over time and create a lifelong purpose, we have to be the person who makes strong decisions and sticks to them about what our life will look like. Okay, that is the first most important step of how to get control of your time. You be in charge. Decide what you want.
And we can’t be scared to embrace what we want. Many people I work with in my consulting business and my Design You Coaching Program will say something like, “Tobi, I just don’t know what I want.” And you know what that is? You know what that is when we don’t know what we want? It’s wasting time being confused. It’s really like procrastinating on deciding on the life you want because deciding, making a decision and saying this is what I want, feels very uncomfortable. And don’t do this. I don’t want you to do this to yourself. Do not waste time being confused. You only have one life and time is passing you by as we speak. So don’t let discomfort keep you from taking action on the things you really want.
And here’s the thing, just decide. If once you start down that path it’s not where you want to go, you can make a different decision. But staying in indecision is the worst place you can be. Okay. So decide what you want. And for those of you who are saying, “Well Tobi, I know exactly what I want. I don’t need to decide. I make decisions quickly and firmly.” Okay well, that’s fantastic but I also want you to check out your list real quick of what you do want. Because if it’s a mile long then you also have a problem. And I’m not judging you, I’m relating to you because I was that person. Great at making decisions but thinking I could have it all and even just wanting it all. And you know what that looks like and what that is thinking we can have it all and wanting it all? That’s operating like an emotional child. It’s like being the kid in the candy shop who’s wanting more, more, more, give me more.
Okay. So that brings me to step number two in this process of getting control and starting to create time. And step number two is to constrain. So constraining our lives and our schedules means making choices. And when we grow up what does that require we do? Well it requires we not be the kid in the candy shop. And yes, it requires we make choices. So there’s a lot of things we have to start choosing when we become grown-ups. We have to choose a college or a profession usually, at least one at a time. You may have several in your future but one at a time. You typically have to pick one mate a time. And if you’re going to be very successful and effective I’ve also figured out that we really should pick one key goal at a time. I did a whole podcast of this idea of picking one key goal at a time. Because when we want to do everything and have everything and be everything, we really don’t allow ourselves to succeed in anything. And time is not on our side when we’re trying to cram everything, every possibility into our schedule.
Now, constraining goes even further than just making some major life choices. It really comes down to the everyday stuff. Like managing your life and your time. By constraining means limiting your belongings like your clothes. Limiting things like your decisions around food so you’re not standing in front of the refrigerator all the time just going, “Hmmm what will I eat?” There’s a lot of hours spent doing that, okay. So we constrain our decisions around food. Constrain the number of places that you shop. Constrain your hobbies. You might even constrain your friends. And that might sound crazy but it’s hard to pour into other relationships at really a high level if you have a whole bunch of them. There’s just not enough of you to go around. So maybe constraining your friends. Constraining things like your volunteer work and a lot of things you say yes to. So I really want you to look at your whole life when you’re thinking about constraining.
And what I found, here’s the good news. So a lot of times when you start to constrain it feels almost sad. Like a grieving process. Like I have to give up all this stuff. But here’s what I found. I found that constraining in every area of my life and I pretty much done all areas, has had a direct correlation with my profits and with my joy. So the more I constrained in every area, both my profits and my joy increased. Which is really cool. So it might feel uncomfortable, might feel like a negative like you’re losing something. But what I want you to know is that you’re really gaining a whole lot, including, potentially, gaining a lot of profit and gaining a lot of joy, both of which I want. And I think you probably do too. So mastering your time really requires that you make choices in every area. And again, this is another thing that I mean by making one decision that eliminates a thousand others. Just imagine, if you constrain your wardrobe for example, then you eliminate hundreds of days of not knowing what to wear. Because you have fewer choices, it’s a lot easier to decide.
So really, this is that idea of essentialism, like my favorite book, or one of them. And it’s that difference in focusing on a few essential things in life as opposed to trying to go after the trivial many things. So think of it like trimming the fat. Getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t matter. And if you look at many of the world’s most successful people, like say Warren Buffett or the founder of Southwest Airlines, both of those people in particular spent their entire life constraining. Constraining where you invest your money, constraining where your airline flies. And really, they had huge results. And that’s because it’s all the trivial stuff that clogs up your schedule. It’s the trivial stuff that causes decision fatigue. And it’s the trivial stuff that takes you away from the people and the things that really matter. It’s spending time on that trivial stuff that causes the regret that many people have later in their life. So check in and be brutally honest with yourself. Start to make a list of even the five to 10 things that really matter to you in your life. They might be categories even. Then you can use that as your litmus test to compare every decision, every purchase, every business idea to that list of what really matters.
I want you to think of this too. It’s really helpful to me for us to understand expectations around decisions like this. So you need to expect that about 90% or more of all the opportunities that you encounter in your life, in your business, should fall into the doesn’t really matter list. If you want to really reform your relationship with time. The things that really matter are going to be 10% of everything you encounter in your life or even 5% or maybe even 1%. So expect most things to not be a fit. Expect most things to be a no and it’ll make it a lot easier for you to make decisions to sort of move on when you encounter those things. So think about that – so, what’s valuable?
So far we said, make decisions about what you really want and really start to constrain. And if you’re feeling right now like this isn’t fair. “Tobi this is not fair, I want it all.” This is America after all, for a lot of you that are listening. Yeah you can have it all. You could but do you want to be a jack of all trades who’s exhausted and burned out and barely making ends meet? Or do you want to be more fulfilled than you can imagine and have huge successes in just a few areas that matter the most? Well I’m picking number two because I tried the all things route and it wasn’t very much fun. So decide what you want, constraint, and then let’s go to step number three which is planning.
Planning is the key to everything. So once you have number one and number two in place, setting that plan is going to be a lot easier. You have to do these steps in order. Because if you don’t know where you’re going, and you still have far too many things on your plate, planning is at best ineffective and a waste of time. So again, do them in order but when you get to step number three it’s time to plan your schedule. And I use a method I created called Zero Balance Time Blocking.
And I really got this idea from the way financial guru Dave Ramsey has you manage money. If you take his courses or listen to his advice. So he advises that you plan for literally every single penny of every single pay cheque. And he has you earmark it for what you’re going to spend it on and then actually follow through. So you’re going to have some set aside for say your mortgage and your retirement or savings. If you have debt, he wants you paying that off early. You have to earmark some for your groceries. And he even has you earmark a certain amount for your monthly spending money. Because his idea and really philosophy is that if you only plan for the big stuff, say your mortgage and your car payment, and you just leave everything else in a big pot and just spend it as you need to on groceries or whatever you want to, well that’s what you’ll do. You’ll spend it on whatever you want and you’ll waste it away. You’ll not have anything to show for it at the end of the month or the end of the pay period. You’ll also likely have no idea where all of that money went.
I really believe the same is true for time. So now that we have a much smaller list of things that our time needs to go towards because we constrained so much. All the things that we’re going to divvy up our time to are truly things that we really care about and value. Then it’s much easier to block out our schedule completely for the entire 24 hours every single day. With this Zero Balance Time Blocking. There’s not a left-over hour anywhere. And I do this for seven days at a time minimum. Really, I prefer to have at least two weeks and often times I have three or four weeks out at a time. And the reason we do that is because this is that planning part. If you wait and see what you feel like doing, say on Tuesday afternoon, it’s sort of like having that money in a big pot. You’re not going to choose wisely because you’re probably not going to feel like doing the things that really move you towards your goals.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that we’re planning 24 hours a day to work. We’re just planning it but it’s not all about work. You don’t have to be productive 100% of the time with regard to work. I’m saying block out things for like think time and napping. And hanging out with friends and drinking a glass of wine if you want to or just nothing. If you just want to have a block for two hours that just says nothing. Then that’s fine, do nothing. But block it out. And don’t just leave a bunch of time in your day, every day that you can use to procrastinate.
Planning actually helps you relax more than you can even imagine. It might sound silly, yeah, I’m going to plan to relax. But it’s easier to completely relax when you’ve already given yourself permission to do so. Because you look at the calendar and you’re like, “Well I’m supposed to be relaxing,” okay. I’ll let myself do it. It’s in my schedule. You know what? That is so liberating, because if you don’t do that then a lot of us are going to need to relax but that looks more like procrastinating. It looks more like blowing off the work we thought we should be doing at that time. And doing something like buffering or numbing because we’re trying to numb those feelings and thoughts of I should be working. And so are we really relaxing in those periods? No. We’re not relaxing at all. We’re just procrastinating. It becomes this sort of experience of regrets. Because we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re doing something that a lot of times causes us issues. Like we’re eating junk food or something that’s not good for our health. But at the end of that period we’re not relaxed at all. We’re just numbed and when the numbing wears off we’re still tired and we still didn’t do what we were supposed to do.
I want you to see that planning time for relaxing. Planning time for family, planning time for vacation, planning time to go for a walk, planning time to be with friends, planning times with your dog. And actually, doing it and relaxing and enjoying it and being in the moment is so much better than procrastinating and buffering. Which is what most of us do with our time.
So the rest of the steps, number four through six, let’s quickly go through. Not that they’re not important but I think they’re a little more self-explanatory. And those first three steps are what really set you on the path to transforming your time. So then once you done those things, you’ve decided what you want, you’ve constrained, and you’ve planned, the next thing, number four is organizing. So that’s organizing your schedule, your days, your life, your stuff that you constrained. And really it saves you so much time, because a lot of us waste a lot of time looking for things, deciding what to do when we’re disorganized. And when you’re both planned and organized it makes things run so smoothly. So you do know where both of your shoes are. You do know where your keys are. You do know that when you planned those meals that you actually are organized enough to have gotten groceries purchased or used what I prefer, a pickup service which we’ll talk about in number five. You’re so organized that you can actually make the meal you had on your list. So see how this really helps. Organizing helps make planning really sort of go further.
Now number five is something called automation. This means setting up systems in both your life and your business so things happen automatically and don’t require you to do them over and over again. Like say, ordering groceries or a grocery pick up service. Or automatically having your medicine, maybe your over-the-counter medicine or supplements delivered from Amazon Prime. Or just things that keep you from having to do the same thing over and over and over again.
Now I’m going to talk about this a lot more. You’re going to start hearing me talk about automation because I’m really fascinated with it. And I’m really getting huge results with automating things in both my personal life and my business. Wait for an episode coming up really soon on automation. But the idea is really for you to start to figure out what you do over and over and over again in your life and business and create a way so you don’t have to keep doing it. It just happens automatically. Or somebody else handles it and it just sort of shows up. It saves a ton of time. You’re going to love this idea of automation in your life.
And number six, to our list of how to create more time, is probably the most important step of all. And that one is keeping your word to yourself or you may want to even call it honoring the plan. Because it does not matter how much you decide, and constrain, and plan, and organize, and automate if you don’t honor those decisions moving forward. If you don’t keep your word to yourself, you’ll be right back in the race against time before you know it. Yeah, we all fall back off the wagon periodically, but if you’re keeping your word to yourself you can quickly sort of get back on that horse and start being in charge of time again in your life without missing a beat.
So dig in and see if you were good at keeping your word to yourself. And don’t worry, I’m going to have another podcast just on that topic also in the future. Every single one of these six steps can be its own podcast and it probably will be.
So there you have it. These are the six steps to really start creating time in your life. So get busy whipping your time into shape. And to make that easier for you, I created a worksheet for you that’s going to remind you of what you might be wasting time on. So you can stop doing that, sort of that assessment piece. And then, it’s going to help you map out how to use all six of these steps to most effectively create time in both your life and your business. So to get that worksheet I want you to go to tobifairley.com/11, like the number 11, because this is podcast number 11. And again, go to tobifairley.com/11 and download that amazing worksheet that I’ve created for you about creating more time in your life. And start doing it right now. Don’t procrastinate. I want you to start now designing a whole new relationship with time today. Because you know what? Time is now my BFF and it can be your BFF too.
So thanks for listening to another episode of The Design You Podcast, and I’ll see you again next week. Bye y’all.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of The Design You Podcast. And if you’d like even more support for designing a business and a life that you love, then check out my exclusive monthly coaching program Design You at tobifairley.com.