If you have big goals and dreams to pursue, but feel like you never have enough time to devote to making them a reality, then this post is for you. I’m sharing a few tips and tactics that have helped me free up time and energy in my life to dedicate to working on my goals and the other important things, and they can help you, too. Read on to find more time and energy for making your goals a reality!
Do the laundry . . . buy cat food . . . return shoes to Zappo’s for a refund . . . leave check for pet sitter . . . pick up packages from the office . . . schedule dentist appointment . . . catch up on emails . . . call exterminator . . . find all my tax receipts . . . pay the bills . . .
Sigh . . . I bet you have a to-do list that looks something like this, too.
And with all these mundane tasks piling up everyday, you might feel like you have no time and energy left for the really important things . . . like pursuing your goals and dreams!
I feel you, girl.
Between working a full-time job, growing a business on the side, running a household, and caring for two loveable but high-maintenance kittens, it’s easy to find myself at the end of the day having done nothing meaningful toward my goals and with only enough energy left to curl up on the sofa under a blanket binge-watching a couple of episodes of Riverdale.
And that’s okay . . . some days.
But if that becomes our every day (cough), then we’ll never reach our goals that are so important to us!
So, I’ve experimented with different ways to create more time and energy in my life for the important things.
These tactics are a combination of ways to save time, be more efficient, and protect and enhance your physical and mental energy.
I still have those binge-watching-Riverdale-days, but by using these tactics I’ve really been able to accomplish more in terms of my goals and the things that matter most.
They might not all work for you, but I bet you’ll find some ideas here that will help you, too!
Tips and tactics to create more time and energy to devote to your goals
1. Automate as much as you can!
Automation is awesome! Automating the things that have to be done on a recurring basis can be a huge time saver. It also saves a lot of your mental energy, because you don’t have those nagging recurring tasks to remember (which are a slow but constant drain on your mental energy).
Here are a few things I’ve automated that have really saved me time:
- Bill paying
- Shopping — For the things I have to buy on a recurring basis, I set up subscriptions so that they’re automatically delivered when I need them. It saves time and I don’t have to worry about forgetting to buy them. For example, I have our pet food and supplies on auto-ship from Chewy.com, and I have subscriptions set up in Amazon for the things I buy on a monthly basis.
- Auto-renew for subscriptions — Be careful with this one, because it’s easy to forget that you’ve set up auto-renew and then you end up renewing something you were ready to let go. Also, it can sometimes be hard to figure out how to cancel the auto-renew (I’m talking to you, magazine subscriptions!). But for really important things, this can be a lifesaver (things like insurance, your domain name if you have a website, your web hosting service, etc.).
2. Plan your week.
Planning your week might feel a little tedious if you’re not someone who likes to plan, but I promise it will make such a difference in how your week flows and what you’re able to accomplish.
If you’ve gone through my new year goal-setting process, then you already have a good idea of what you need to be working on each week (and day) to move you forward with your goals. So you just need to plug them into your calendar or planner, plus add in all the other less important but necessary things you have to do.
Later on I’ll be writing an entire how-to blog post dedicated to planning your week, but here are a few things I recommend including:
- any commitments and appointments you have that week
- your outfits for each day
- your meals (more on that coming up)
- which workouts you’ll do
- what the most important things are that you want to accomplish that week
- time for self-care.
Be sure to physically block time off on your calendar for the most important things (even if it’s a task or project versus an appointment, allot time in your schedule to work on it).
Also, be realistic about the amount of time you’ll actually need to complete it (says the person who is completely delusional about what she can accomplish in a given amount of time).
And last, when you put something in your planner or calendar that you want to get done, treat it like a commitment.
Last year I got really bad about putting way more things on my planner in a day than I could possibly get done — and usually I knew this when I wrote them down. So, I didn’t treat it like a true commitment because I already knew it probably wasn’t gonna happen.
Doing better on this front is one of my BIG shifts I’m working on for 2018. And so far it’s paying off!
For help with your goal-setting and planning for 2018, check out A New Year Guide to Goal-Setting & Planning: How to create inspired goals you’ll stick to & achieve in 2018 for help creating your goals this year. Be sure to get the step-by-step guide that goes with it!
3. Plan your meals.
Even though this one falls under weekly planning, I think it’s important enough to also be a stand-alone tactic for two reasons:
First, what you eat has a HUGE impact on your overall health, as well as your energy level. So if improving your health (or your eating habits) is one of your goals, planning healthy meals for yourself will be a big win for you.
Even if it’s not a goal, a healthy diet will help you have more energy and focus to devote to your important goals and dreams.
Second, not having a plan for what you’re gonna eat can result in wasting a lot of time trying to figure it out each day, resorting to less than ideal choices (like unhealthy take-out), and unnecessary stress and hanger.
Stay tuned for an updated how-to guide for planning your meals, but for now you can check out an older post I wrote on meal-planning. It’s geared toward brides because I was doing bridal wellness at the time, but it’s totally relevant whether you’re a bride-to-be or not.
4. Do your meal prep or cooking ahead of time.
I’ll admit that I have a love-hate relationship with this one and I don’t always do it.
I really don’t like spending two or three hours on my Sunday cooking, but I love it when I come home after work and dinner is ready to go!
It frees up my evenings to work on my business, spend quality time with my husband, or do work toward one of my other goals. And ultimately I end up spending less time in the kitchen than I would if I cooked individual dinners each night.
If you’re not up for cooking everything ahead, an alternative is to do the prep work ahead of time — washing, chopping, sauteeing, measuring, etc.
5. Use time-saving tools and recipes in the kitchen when preparing your meals.
So here’s another tip for saving time in the kitchen (can you tell a lot of my time gets lost in the kitchen?).
Some of my favorite tools and methods for saving time when cooking are:
- The Instant Pot (Cooks a spaghetti squash in 12 minutes vs. one hour in the oven. It’s AMAZING!)
- Slow cooker (The Instant Pot serves as both a pressure cooker AND a slow cooker, so if you have the Instant Pot, you won’t need a slow cooker. It takes the place of a rice cooker, too. One more thing to love about the Instant pot!)
- My mini-chopper (I use this thing ALL the time!)
- Having a collection of quick, easy, and healthy go-to recipes for weeknights, especially one-pot and one-dish recipes (soups, stews, healthy casseroles, sheet pan recipes, etc.)
- Using frozen chopped vegetables in place of fresh vegetables (you’ll save time chopping + you’re probably getting more nutrients with the frozen veggies because they’re frozen so soon after being harvested)
- Using pre-chopped and pre-washed veggies from the produce department. I try not to rely on this one too much since I think these probably are significantly less fresh and lower in nutrients, and the effectiveness of the “pre-washing” is questionable. But in a pinch, I don’t hesitate to go this route.
- Pick a few staple dishes you really like for breakfast, make them ahead of time, and just eat the same thing for breakfast. The less time you can spend making decisions like “what should I eat for breakfast?”, the more time and mental energy you’ll have to devote to more important things. A few of my faves: smoothies, overnight oats, chia seed pudding, boiled eggs, and fruit with raw nuts or seeds.
6. Use a shopping service for your groceries.
Girl, this is the best thing ever! It will cost you more than if you did the shopping yourself, but the amount of time saved in return is SO worth it in my opinion.
Two services I’ve used are Amazon Fresh and InstaCart. I loved Amazon’s service when I first started using it, but then I had a couple of bad customer service experiences with them so I stopped using them.
Then I discovered InstaCart and I LOVE it. I use it every week. (If you want to give it a try, you can click here to get $10 off your first order!)
7. Delegate tasks that aren’t the best use of your time.
There are so many mundane tasks we have to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and they suck up a lot of time we could be putting toward something more important. And they’re things that someone else could do just as good as you can (or sometimes even better)!
So, let someone else do them!
A few examples are using a shopping service (#6), hiring a housekeeper, using an accountant or bookkeeper, hiring someone to run errands, laundry service, using services that deliver (like meal delivery or dry cleaning). Another way to delegate is to have your SO take on some of the things you normally do.
8. Make your workouts more efficient.
Regular exercise and physical movement have so many health benefits. Of course, you knew that already, but did you know they can also improve your focus and productivity and give you more energy to work toward your goals?
And when you feel like you’re too busy to exercise, that’s exactly when you need a workout the most.
You can be more efficient (and save time) with your exercise by doing shorter, more intense workouts (like HIIT [high-intensity interval training] and Tabatas).
Most of us only need to a 20 or 30-minute workout each day (but try to pair that with regular movement throughout the day).
Another way to exercise more efficiently is to work out at home.
There are so many awesome online workouts you can stream and workout DVDs. By working out at home, you’ll save quite a bit of commuting and transition time by not going to the gym.
I do all my workouts at home. I don’t have a gym membership and I’ve never used the gym at our apartment. So don’t think you can’t get a good workout and stay fit exercising at home. You can!
9. Exercise in the morning
I know this is easy for me to recommend because I’m a morning person, but even if you’re a night owl, it’s worth considering.
Here are some ways you can benefit by exercising in the morning:
- You’re likely to exercise more consistently because you get it out of the way before your day really gets started (and before other things can get in the way or you’re too tired).
- It’ll give you a boost of energy that you’ll carry with you throughout the day, so you can be more productive when it comes time to work on your goals.
- It can improve your mood.
- The feeling of accomplishment from getting your day off to a good start can carry over into other areas of your day.
10. Do the most important things first.
This isn’t always possible, but if you’re able to devote time first thing to focus on your goals and the most important tasks/projects related to them, it’s a good practice to get into.
I for sure can easily get distracted by the less important but more enjoyable aspects of my day (did someone say funny cat video??). If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself at the end of the day without accomplishing any of the really important stuff.
11. Clear physical and mental clutter that’s distracting you and draining your energy.
Even though I have visions of my home looking like it came straight out of an Instagram post, all pristine and minimalist, tidy and clutter-free, sadly this is not my reality. Ahh, but I aspire!
The truth is, I’m looking around our living room right now and on the coffee table I see two remote controls laying there haphazardly, a tissue (gross), and two empty glasses. Plus about 10 cat toys scattered around the floor.
That’s not so bad I guess (but also doesn’t paint the picture of the clutter we have around the rest of our house), but my point is that clutter in your physical space can be a much bigger distraction than you might realize.
Plus it can be a real time-waster if you have to move it, clean around it, maintain it, etc. And it can be a subtle but constant drain on your energy when it’s distracting you and you’re thinking about the fact that you need to do something with it (like all that stuff in our garage that needs to be donated).
Sometimes it’s subconscious and you’re not even aware of it, but that small draw on your mental energy is going on in the background. From a feng shui standpoint, clutter keeps your positive energy (chi) from moving freely, which makes the chi in your home sluggish.
Likewise, there’s mental clutter.
This can be things like keeping running lists in your head of things you need to do, buy, etc. (instead of recording them in a set place so you don’t have to remember them), an inbox full of emails that need to be read, replied to, or deleted (ugh…I know ALL about this one), or what Jack Canfield in The Success Principles (one of my faves!) calls “incompletes” — those nagging tasks or projects that you’ve started but haven’t finished.
Even if you’re not consciously thinking of them, they’re putting a small but constant drain on your mental energy and focus.
This tactic admittedly requires a time investment up front (one more thing to make time for!), but in my experience, it can really improve your energy and focus.
So, make a list of all your mental and physical clutter, pick the ones that are most draining or distracting, and work on them one by one so that it’s not too overwhelming.
12. Run all your errands in one trip.
Ugh . . . errands are such a time suck. It takes a lot of time doing them, and the interruption of stopping what you’re working on to run an errand can really interfere with your flow.
For the errands, you aren’t able or willing to delegate (# 7), try to set aside enough time so that you can knock them all out at once (instead of making multiple trips).
Also, try to make it during a time of day that isn’t your most productive time. I’m a morning person, so I wouldn’t spend my morning hours running errands — I’d save them for the afternoon when I have less energy and focus.
13. Batch tasks that are similar.
The transition time when you switch from one task to another, and the mental energy you use switching gears, is another small but real drain on your time and energy.
If you can batch together like tasks, you’ll save small pockets of time here and there that really do add up.
A few examples of tasks you can batch are:
- Making phone calls
- Sending emails
- Writing notes
- Prepping food for meals (do all the washing at one time, do all the chopping at one time, etc.)
- Social media posting
If you know you have four phone calls to make today, instead of spacing them out throughout the day, set aside enough time to get them all done at one sitting.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you use social media to connect with your clients or customers and promote your business, you know how time-consuming it can be to keep up with all the social media platforms.
I use a social media scheduler to schedule a bunch of posts ahead of time, so that I’m in the flow and not scrambling to figure out what to post each day (at least in theory that’s what I do — still trying to be consistent with that one!).
It may not seem like it would make a big difference, but give batching a try — I think you’ll be surprised!
14. Limit your TV watching and social media time.
I will never be the person to tell you to give up TV, because I would never do that myself (which you probably guessed from my earlier Riverdale binge-watching references).
But, especially with Netflix and limitless on-demand TV options, it’s so easy to get sucked into mindless hours of TV watching (ditto for social media).
So my advice here is just to be mindful of how much time you’re spending watching TV or on social media, and try not to do these things during your peak hours when your energy is highest and you’re most productive.
One way I limit my time on social media is by scheduling my posts ahead of time and batching (#13). For TV, I have specific shows that I really like to watch, and I try to limit my TV watching just to those shows (as opposed to just having the TV on all the time and watching it mindlessly).
You can also have set times blocked on your schedule for TV watching and social media.
Believe me, I know it’s soooo much easier (and more appealing) most days to just get cozy in your pajamas and curl up in front of the TV, but staying mindful about the amount of time you’re spending on these activities can go a long way to freeing up time to work on your goals.
15. Pick a goal/project to work on for the month, and commit to devoting just 15 minutes of undistracted time to it each day.
It doesn’t seem like you’d be able to accomplish much in just 15 minutes a day, but it really can add up and make a difference!
This is a great tactic to try when you feel like you just can’t free up any bigger blocks of time in your schedule.
If you’re like me, you’re probably of the mindset that if 15 minutes is all you’ve got to spend on something, then it’s just not worth it.
But, you can actually get a lot of traction incrementally if you consistently (that’s the key) spend that focused 15 minutes a day (which adds up to an hour and 45 minutes a week!).
16. Get enough quality sleep and downtime so that the time you do have to devote to working toward your goals can be productive.
You want the limited time you have to work on your goals to be as productive as possible, and one of the best ways to do this is to get enough quality sleep.
You also want to be sure you’re giving your brain, nervous system, body, and spirit enough downtime to rest and re-energize.
I’m lucky that I’m naturally a good sleeper, but I rarely go to bed at the time I’m supposed to. Usually, it’s about half an hour after. I know I’m at my best when I have a solid seven hours of sleep a night (49 hours a week).
Thirty minutes a night might not seem like a big deal, but it adds up to a sleep deficit of three and a half hours a week! And I can tell you from experience it really affects my energy level, my ability to focus, and my mood.
So one of my goals for 2018 is to get the right amount of sleep consistently. I’m tracking it on a daily basis and reviewing my progress at the end of each week. Not perfect, but I’m definitely seeing improvement.
17. Review your vision and goals every single day.
This is such an easy one to do, but it’s also really easy to overlook. We’ve probably all been guilty of setting goals and then forgetting we ever made them (I know I have!).
If you’ll take just a few minutes first thing each morning to review your vision and goals that you’re working toward, it’ll go a long way to keeping you focused and on track with your goals.
Even better, review them in the morning and before going to bed! You’ll plant those seeds in your subconscious and your brain will be working out ways to make them grow and flourish while you’re sleeping.
Okay, that was a lot, so here’s a quick recap of 17 ways you can create more time and energy for making your goals a reality:
- Automate as much as you can.
- Plan your week.
- Plan your meals.
- Do your meal prep or cooking ahead of time.
- Use time-saving tools and recipes in the kitchen when preparing your meals.
- Use a shopping service for your groceries.
- Delegate tasks that aren’t the best use of your time.
- Make your workouts more efficient.
- Exercise in the morning.
- Do the most important things first.
- Clear physical and mental clutter that’s distracting you and draining your energy.
- Run all your errands in one trip.
- Batch tasks that are similar.
- Limit your TV watching and social media time.
- Pick a goal/project to work on for the month, and commit to devoting just 15 minutes of undistracted time to it each day.
- Get enough quality sleep and downtime so that the time you do have to devote to working toward your goals can be productive.
- Review your vision and goals every single day.
Believe me, I know what a challenge it is juggling multiple responsibilities.
But if you can put even a few of these practices into place, I know it will help you free up some time and energy for the really important things — like staying healthy and well, pursuing your goals and dreams, and enjoying grand adventures!
What are some things that have helped you free up more time and energy in your life? Comment below and let me know!
PS: If you need help with goal-setting or creating a plan to achieve them, I’ve written an in-depth article about how to set your goals for the new year and actually achieve them. Be sure to download the free step-by-step guide that comes with it.
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Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash