In the days before the pandemic, the number one thing I heard from colleagues was that they wish they had more time, both more time for work, and more time for life outside of work.
For everyone who transitioned from a physical office work environment to working from home, it seemed like work went from this distinct activity during our day to this never ending list of to-dos that rarely had an end in sight. And since we are working where we live, it was hard to figure out when the living part should happen. As I reflected on this question of how to do both better, I realized that while 2020 was ridiculously challenging, it also brought with it an unexpected time bonus as we transitioned to working from home. Now, some of us had to spend this new found time on facilitating remote school for our kids, but starting this summer, I was able to see three major areas where I was saving REAL time:
1) The commute.
I personally went from a 30-45 min commute each way down to a minute, and it’s only that long since I have to walk slowly downstairs to my office with my full to the brim cup of coffee.
2) The fashion show.
Like many of the ladies out there, I used to spend upwards of 15 minutes each day putting together our look – from the clothes, to the shoes, to the jewelry. We worried about things like if we wore that outfit last week, and how do I look in this when I sit/stand, will these shoes work all day or should I bring a back-up pair, and what’s the weather doing – which coat do I need? Now, once my hair and make-up is done, getting dressed for the day takes less than 2 minutes. Pants, top, and sweater if it’s cold or I need to look extra nice. That’s IT!
3) Food packing.
As someone who used to bring my food to work, the process of measuring out my meals and snack into travel containers is over. No more planning and packing breakfast, snacks, lunch, back-up snacks, water, and coffee. In total, a daily 15+ min process was eliminated. Now that I’m at home, I just grab my leftovers from the fridge, coffee from the carafe, and snacks from the cabinet.
Reflecting back on just these three things, I’m saving an HOUR before work. That’s right. A whole hour, every single day I work from home. This is time I’m intentionally spending exercising, and reading BEFORE I dive into my inbox in the morning.
Before I realized that this time was there, it was so easy to let it drift away as I hit snooze, scrolled e-mails, dabbled with online shopping, scanned news, or flipped through social media. The “a ha!” moment wasn’t realizing I had this magical extra hour, it was realizing I finally had bonus time in my morning for those activities that I had been wishing were a consistent part of my life.
The benefit to purposely spending this bonus time on my personal priorities is that I’m not having to sacrifice time with the kids, my spouse or anyone else to accomplish them. It’s guilt free!
And the best part? I’m having better days because I’m feeling healthier, more fulfilled, and accomplished before the workday even begins.
Do you have an extra hour hiding in your day?
I bet you do. Grab a piece of paper and I’ll show you how to find morning time and make the most of it:
- At the bottom, write down what time you sit down at your computer and start work.
- At the top, write down what time you used to get up pre-pandemic.
- Under wake up time, write down what you could you do immediately when your alarm goes off that you’ve been wanting to do if you had time. Examples include: read, meditate, pray, stretch, workout, journal, walk, take online class, etc.
- Determine how long do you need for that activity. If you have at least 1 hour between the time you wake up and the time you want to start work, skip the detailed time audits and measurement, and just DO the thing you wanted to do TOMORROW for 25 min.
- Still have time? Then go another 5 min next week. For me, I started working out for just 25 min a morning and then slowly increased until I got to where I wanted to be.
Here’s my current morning routine:
Now, what to do for those days I do go in the office? I can either be super prepared and prep food and layout my clothes the night before, wake up earlier, or just reduce the workout time for that one day. So, couldn’t I have done this pre-pandemic? Sure! But I didn’t. It felt like too much sacrifice to make it happen.
Knowing that I had this time bonus was exactly what I needed to dial up my morning productivity to match my workday productivity, and I’m benefiting in both spaces because of it. I hope you do to!