Time—there's never enough of it. Most days it feels like you can never be productive enough, always chasing that list of to-do's in your head. It's a maddening board game—advance 1 space, then back 3. Check one thing off, only to replace it with five more.
It seems that our time is in ever shorter supply, especially around the holidays. You've got all these goals and aspirations—for the new year, for your brand, for your life. Yet you just can't seem to find time for them, and there's this avalanche of other things that keeps caving in.
Getting It All Done
Well, I've got three mantras that could be the answer to your struggles. These revelations are the magic that keep my own avalanche at bay. I can't promise you it will be easy, but you can create more time in your days. You can get it all done. Think I'm out of my mind? Read on.
1. You're in Charge of Your Time
I've got news for you. Unless you do something about it, that avalanche of to-do's and should-do's will just keep on coming. What can you do? Take charge.
The wise Dhirubhai Ambani once said, “If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.” This is too true, across the board. It's true for your life. It's true for your brand. It's true for your every waking minute. If you don't have an intention for your time, someone else will.
Don't let anyone else dictate your life. For the longest time, I had this terrible tendency to be passive with my schedule—personally and professionally. I'd have a loose idea of what I wanted to spend my time on, but if something came up or someone needed me I'd drop everything.
A certain degree of flexibility is good, but you can't be a doormat. If you're always trying to please everyone, you'll run yourself ragged. That's a great way to get caught up in the avalanche that will bury you. You'll blink and wonder where all your time has gone. How are those dreams of yours still stuck on the back burner?
If you're going to share your brilliance, you need to take charge of your time. Start today. Be the commander of your own calendar—the driver of your own destiny. What's the best way to start? Say, “no.”
2. You Have to Say, “No”
You only have 24 hours in your day, and you cannot do absolutely everything. You can't please everyone, so stop trying. I know, it's hard. I've carried that weight around, constantly worried that I'm letting someone down—my family, my boss, my friends. I know how soul-crushing that can be.
Do you know what happens when you try to please everyone all the time? You don't do a very good job with anything, and you run yourself into the ground. So set them down—all those “shoulds” and unrealistic expectations you have for yourself. It's going to be hard, but you have to start saying no.
You can get it all done, but that means narrowing in on what “it” is. You can make time for the things that are important to you, but it starts with saying no to everything else. Yes, even the fun stuff. I know, it's hard. If this was easy, everyone would be doing it.
You're going to have to make sacrifices—the lazy days, the Netflix binges, the late nights out, the weekends away. I'm not saying don't do anything fun and I'm not saying this has to be forever. But ask yourself—are your goals and your dreams worth it? If you're serious about them, other things have to go.
3. Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should
It's hard enough to say no to the things you want to do, but it can be even more difficult to eliminate things you're good at—especially when they look like work. This is where the line gets a bit hazy, even for me.
I started my design career specializing in wedding stationery. This realm of highly personal, visual story-telling was so new to me and I was obsessed. I worked my butt off to get a job in that niche, and it just clicked for me. I loved getting to know my clients, basked in the design process, and—most of all—I adored making each couple's big day a seamlessly gorgeous experience that was so uniquely them.
Fast forward to about two years ago, when I first dipped my toe into the branding world. I was immediately smitten, and I knew this was the next step for me. As it turns out, wedding stationery and branding have a lot in common. Telling my amazing clients' stories through this beautifully branded experience, all of that carried over. Both involved connecting the dots and translating that in a beautiful way. Even better, branding wasn't just about one day. I could create something that would last and grow and evolve. I absolutely loved that.
If you don't have an intention for your time, someone else will.
I knew it was time to shift my focus, but that didn't happen overnight. People kept contacting me for wedding stationery, but that wasn't what I wanted to be doing anymore. I felt stuck and like I was resisting the inevitable by trying to refocus my work. I felt guilty turning people away, but any time I took on a stationery project, I got caught in this First World guilt turbine. You know the kind—where you’re dreading doing something, and then you feel guilty for dreading it because you’re lucky to have this opportunity and it’s terrible of you to complain.
Stop. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Yes, even if you're amazing at it. Even if the client seems really nice. Even if it would bring in some extra money.
Here I am, about two years later, and I still get emails about wedding invitations from time to time. I could easily say yes and try to make it work, but it wouldn't be serving my purpose. That wouldn't be using my time wisely, and it won't get me where I really want to be.
Making the Time
How do you find the time to build your dreams? The truth is that you don't. Extra time isn't just lying around like loose change. You don't find it—you make it. Take charge of your time and don't be afraid to say no. You don't have to do anything.
I know this won't be easy, but it will be so worth it. I always go back to this quote from David Duchemin—“Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it.” I couldn't agree more. Every moment is precious.
What will you make time for today?