10 ways to make a little extra time in your life

Image by junussyndicate on deviantart

Image by junussyndicate on deviantart

“Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
~ Denis Waitley

Someone recently wrote to me ‘you sure do a lot of cooking, contemplating and enjoying the simple wonders of our world – what a shame that most of us don’t have as much time as you to indulge in “being present”. Any advice for those of us whose jobs take up a large chunk of our lives?’

Truth is, I don’t have any more time than the average person – I have just learned to use it differently.  Here is some of what I’ve found gives me more time in my day…

  1. Start this whole process of making time with some time out. Maybe take a cup of tea into the back yard, or go to a local coffee shop. If you can, take an hour or two, but you might actually need more time than that to reconnect with yourself if your life has been on automatic pilot.  Step away from the machine for a moment, and begin to put thought into what’s important to you.  Do that every so for the rest of your life.

  2. Prioritise what’s important, and give it time in your life. Just pick a few things, but let those things really matter to you. Writing and meditation are important to me so I fit these into the beginning of my day.  How do I do that?  I get up at 4am. By sun up I have put time into both of these things that matter to me. I won’t schedule anything before 9.  That leaves me time for breakfast with my husband, walks with the dogs, or an early morning surf.  Build your day or your week around the most important priorities in your life.  When you don’t make time for yourself FIRST, you’ll end up resentful and never getting to the things that matter.2012-05-17 07.34.52
  3. Stop watching so much television. Television sneakily robs us of time.  If you really want to watch something, plan to watch it.  Don’t just sit down in front of the box each day, switch it on and wait to be entertained.  Same goes for internet surfing and playing games!  Set a time limit on it and then walk away.

    Image from www.techzb.com

    Image from www.techzb.com

  4. Start your day right. Listening to the radio or watching the news on TV fills your head with lots of stuff that is not necessarily relevant, but that engages your attention elsewhere. It is also often quite depressing.  Take control of your morning and put a little effort into starting off well, however that looks for you, focusing on what will give you a positive and productive day.

  5.  Multi-task.  Commute time is a good example of this.  Catch up on your reading, or if you’re the driver, listen to talking books or courses that interest you.  Wear a wireless headset while you’re on the phone so that you can tidy up a room, fold clothes or do other simple chores while you talk.

    Image from www.ngotaxi.org

    Image from www.ngotaxi.org

  6. Simplify food preparation and shopping.  Plan your week’s meals in advance and shop to your plan. Batch cook so that you make a double quantity of brownies and freeze some for later.  Plan larger meals that make left-overs so you can cut down your cooking time later in the week.

    Image from www.minimins.com

    Image from www.minimins.com

  7. Systems are sexy!  Don’t double handle things.  Answer emails when you open them, deal with mail, paperwork and filing as you get to it, and set aside time each day, or each week for these routine tasks.  A place for everything, and everything in it’s place.

    Image from www.ehow.com

    Image from www.ehow.com

  8. Turn off technology for a power hour.  Get rid of all the distractions like email, facebook, cell phones and internet surfing and use that time to work on what’s important to you.

  9. Learn to say NO. Free up time by letting go of tasks, responsibilities and relationships that drain you and waste your precious time. (ideas on how to do that here)

  10. Don’t do everything yourself. Learn to delegate or outsource.  Ask for help, or employ help! Have your partner or child chip in, get a cleaner, or accept offers of assistance from friends and relatives.  If you have children, see if you can carpool or trade child-minding time so you can get a few hours to yourself. If you’re caring for elderly relatives or other dependents look for respite care and aid agencies to give you a hand.
Image from www.littlehouseinthesuburbs.com

Image from www.littlehouseinthesuburbs.com

To get the life we want, we need to actively design it and put effort into it. But it’s worth it – I know because I’ve had a life I hated, and now I have a life I love. And the only thing that changed was the choices I made and the actions I took to make my life more like the one of my dreams.  You can do it too!  It’s worth it.  You’re worth it.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

Remembering to take care of YOU!

“Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke


Recently I received a message from a lovely lady, asking about balance:

I thought of you as I was reflecting on my past week & trying to set goals for the months ahead and wondered how you ‘balance’ yourself, between giving yourself all the appropriate time you need & still helping others. I struggle with giving me some time to myself. Any tips or ideas would be gratefully appreciated.

It’s always a tricky thing – this balancing act, and truth be told, there is no magic formula to create a perfect life where you can neatly tick all of the boxes.  Sometimes you need to go all out for other people.  Most of us are good at that bit.  Where we suck is in going all out for ourselves.

But do you know what? It’s YOUR life – this ain’t no dress rehearsal, and your goals and dreams deserve as much air play as all of those people you are supporting to achieve theirs!

Keith Urban performing on stage - he owul dnever have achieved his dreams without practice, and being brave enough to take a chance on himself. Photo: Daniela Rodriguez

Keith Urban performing on stage – he would never have achieved his dreams without practice, and being brave enough to take a chance on himself. Photo: Daniela Rodriguez

Find some time each day that’s just for you.  Even ten minutes is a help. Not to be productive, but to replenish! It could be a morning run, a meditation, a first cup of coffee with the crossword from the back of the paper, a picnic lunch and time with a book in the park in your lunch hour, a long hot soak at day’s end. It’s worth it to get up that little earlier to find a quiet moment.  Those quiet moments are what fill us up and help us get through the day.

Goals – identify them.  Go ahead and allow yourself some dreaming time. If you need help these try these posts:

Writing as a Manifestation Tool

Writing Yourself into a Brighter Future

Gifts to give yourself this Christmas (Valid all year round!)

When you’ve written your goals and dreams, pick three. Now pick one of the three and break it into do-able chunks.  Schedule a little time each day, or a bigger chunk of time one or two days a week, or one insane period of a few days and work on your goal chunk by chunk until it is done.  Give up on perfection and embrace action!!!

Carve out some time in your Schedule. Only you know how much effort you’ll need to get something done. If all you want is a few moments to yourself then find a way to squeeze some time in by starting later or finishing your day a little earlier. Maybe you’ll need to give yourself Monday nights, or Sunday afternoons.  Maybe you’l need to get bold and block out whole swathes of time in your diary.  It all depends on how big your dream is and how much you want to make your dream a reality.

Sleep! People who are juggling caring for others, paying the bills and a myriad other responsibilities usually cut corners trying to squeeze more into their day. It’s a false economy that leads to burn out.  Give yourself the gift of sleep.  Nothing will get you back on your feet and making good decisions faster than a solid night’s sleep. Say yes to some pillow time, and put everything else on hold. If possible take a whole weekend and devote it to rest. Can’t rest at home?  Check into a hotel or take your tent and vanish for a few days of sleep and soul restoration. You and your sanity are worth it!

Set clear boundaries.  When your dance card is already full, saying yes to more offers of dancing is insane. Know your limits.  Let go of things, or take a night off and let someone else be responsible. If you’re drowning, put your hand up and ask for help. When you need to say no, say no.

Eat well.  When you’re struggling to find space for yourself in a busy life, believe me that is the WORST TIME to skip meals, live on crappy take-aways or cupboard food (yeah, you know what I mean: instant noodles, corn chips, sweet biscuits etc) When we are under stress we need to fuel ourselves up with plenty of healthy, nutritious food and lots of good clean water.

Image from www.wilstop.info

Image from www.wilstop.info

Take proper time out to nurture and maintain yourself.  Get your hair done, visit the dentist, see a movie, go to the library and stock up on your favourite movies and books, enjoy a massage or something else relaxing and meaningful for you.

Get your support crew together. We can’t do this journey alone.  My support crew includes my husband, the Sisters of the Pen – my writing cadre who are also the dearest of friends and secret keepers, my online community, a few close friends (and yes some of these people live on the other side of the world and we skype, text and call each other!), my acupuncturist, herbalist, dentist, doctors, my accountant, my Guides, and a host of books, motivational videos, courses and websites. I will also add in a few good coffee shops, cafes and farmers’ markets for good measure.

Carrots – you need some so work them out and then dangle them enticingly in front of you.  We call them rewards for a reason.  What is hard work without some well-earned pleasure at the end of the road?  Have a range of small treats and bigger ticket items.  Never put yourself into financial hardship to reward yourself – sometimes my best reward is a coffee at a favourite cafe, a walk on the beach, or a new book and a whole Sunday to myself.


I’ve done burn out. And nursed that deep resentment from putting everyone else first and me last.  Trust me, it isn’t worth it. It isn’t useful. All it does is break your spirit and your body and leave you floundering and exhausted.

It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself and to honour your dreams.  If you don’t, who will?  Your life is yours to live, so be an active participant and make the days count.

Much love to you, Nicole ♥ xx

beach - wategos

Useful extra reading:

The Broken Robot Repair Shop

Simple Pleasures

Doing Nothing is Productive!

Simplicity is a choice

Defining Your Priorities in Life

This beautiful image by Kittisak

Life is short. Life is precious. And in our lives we need to be able to fit into a limited amount of time the things that will satisfy us, grow us, and make us happy.

So many people that I know have this terrible sense of never having enough time, and never getting around to the things that are important to them. Those dreams and desires keep getting relegated to ‘tomorrow’, and as we all know, tomorrow never comes.

If you’re in a place of overwhelm and exhaustion, you might find this post helpful to get you started: Simplicity is a Choice  You can also read about how I got my own personal priority act together here: The gift of impermanence OR live like you’re dying

So how do we work out what’s important to us? Journalling is one of the best ways I have found for clearing out the clutter in our minds and tidying our thoughts onto a page.  Today’s post will help you start that process of clarifying what matters to you, and how you want your life to look.

Journal Activity:

Image by nuttakit

It’s important to re-orient yourself back to your own internal priorities for this exercise, rather than the pressures of your life the way it is right now.

If possible, take yourself somewhere away from work or home – maybe a library, a coffee shop or a park, even the back yard or a veranda could work. Having surroundings that are not associated with chores, duties or your to-do-list will be very helpful for this process. Allocate at least ten minutes for this journal task, but note that if you haven’t been giving yourself much time lately you may need considerably longer.  The investment in yourself will be worth it!

Start by writing this passage into your journal or diary. Feel free to use coloured inks, stickers, doodles or anything else that makes your heart sing.

My life is precious to me, and I recognise that it’s a gift.  Before I was even born I was dreaming of the things I could do, experience and discover in this lifetime.

Inside me is a strong wisdom about what matters to me. My heart, my soul, my gut – they all have messages for my mind to hear and understand – and I’m really ready to listen.

More than that, I’m ready for change.  I‘m ready to act upon my priorities.  My life matters to me.  My time is now! 

Image by graur codrin

Choose any of the following journal starters and then begin writing:

  • This idea in the back of my mind is
  • I feel unbelievably pressured because
  • All I really want to be doing is
  • If I had more time I would
  • The thing that lights me up inside is
  • I know I need to
  • If I won a million dollars, suddenly I would be able to
  • My biggest regret is that
  • If I could find a way to support myself I would
  • Ever since I was little I have dreamed of
  • The secret hope inside me is
  • I get a huge surge of relief every time I think about
  • My whole world would change if
  • It makes me outrageously happy to think about
  • People have always said that I
  • When I look back on my life, I’d like to be able to say that
  • The things on my personal bucket list are

We never know what life has in store for us. You’ll never please everyone, but the one person we often forget to please is ourselves. You are worthy, valuable and you came to this life to live your dreams. Maybe it’s time to honour that in some small way. Live without regrets! Live each day not so that you can cross it off and breathe a sigh of weary relief, but so that it counts for you, so that it matters to you and to your dreams. ♥

PS – Nickelback says it so well… ↓