Unless you count the obsessive speed with which I can power through two seasons of Sherlock in one weekend (in addition to a full social calendar, a movie and six episode of House of Cards), I can’t really boast “efficient” and “productive” as two words consistently high on the list for how I spend my personal time.
For instance, continuing my Italian education has been a goal of mine since college. My old textbook and verb tense flash cards taunt me from my bedroom bookshelf, but somehow seem to require far too much effort to actually pick up when the time to do so presents itself. The next How I Met Your Mother episode on the other hand? My Netflix’s placeholder at the end of Season 6 speaks for itself.
But with a glass of Turkish wine in hand and the glowing Bosphorous Bridge in the distance, I turned to my roommate during our trip and told her I knew what my next Big Goal is…making time for getting back to really learning Italian. Now, I’m fully aware the likelihood of me knowing Italian in Texas isn’t exactly going to break down language barriers anytime soon. For me, it’s more about the personal achievement and the satisfaction of *finally* following through. And if planning another trip to Italy becomes the ultimate reward for my efforts…well I think I can live with that.
Most people have way more free time than they think they do (according to Fast Company) and I’m guilty, too. These three words (also from Fast Company – are you picking up on my other obsession?) have gone a long way in inspiring me to re-evaluate how I spend my time and how I can make more of it or just feel like I do: Protect, Delegate, Automate.
- Protect your time. My parents always told me as I rushed out the door breakfast, make-up bag and shoes in hand that I don’t give myself enough time for anything I do, resulting in over-scheduling and chronic late arrivals. After experiencing a pathological amount of “really bad traffic,” I had to admit that maybe there’s a tiny bit of validity to their observation. While all this running about is great for calorie burning, saying no every now and then and allocating more time for everything can go a long way in building in both more free time and more energy to make the most of that time. Another Fast Company article held advice from a CEO who never schedules meetings or plans to do any work on Fridays, therefore building in plenty of availability for when things pop up or get shifted. Interessante.
- Delegate. I place a lot of responsibility on myself in the form of personal tasks, work and guilt, which don’t always need to be mine to take. Asking myself, “Do I really need to be doing that or can someone else excel at it, handle it or learn from it?” has gone a long way in helping my work team to succeed, my stress to subside, my trust in others to grow and finally, my to do list to shrink along with the time spent thinking about it.
- Automate. What do you do often that can be streamlined to free up actual time and/or mental time? For me, this means setting up automatic bill payments, text reminders about non-automatic payments, email rules, calendar reminders on my phone for everything from taking out the trash to replying to an email…I think you get the idea.
Now all that’s left is to finally do it! I think I’m going to commit to one Italian session a week through the end of the year…that’s only 10, which is totally do-able. Google searching “learn Italian for free” has led to a few helpful resources, and of course, I always have those trusty flash cards waiting patiently.