Kate in Waltham, MA @KateOBrien

13 Ways to Stop Stressing About Having Enough Time

Stop stressing about time management and work-life fit

In their annual letter, Bill and Melinda Gates discussed what superpowers they wish they had. It may surprise you that Melinda wished for more time, but you can probably relate. Between work, family and other commitments there simply isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your plate. 

Maybe the issue isn’t how many hours we have, but how we spend those hours. Balancing work and your personal life isn’t easy, but there are ways you can manage your time to make the most of each day.

Here are 13 ways to cope with not having enough time.

1. Decide What’s Most Important to You ... and Prioritize It
Sometimes this means you might miss out on some things, but you have to keep in mind what’s best for you. Feel free to skip the networking event if it conflicts with your daughter’s basketball tournament.

2. Schedule Non-Work Activities On Your Calendar
If you treat non-work commitments as seriously as work, you’ll see work and life start to balance out. You’ll be less likely to work late if you have time scheduled with a personal trainer or a dinner reservation with your spouse.

3. And Then Block Them Off On Your Work Calendar
If you’re worried about privacy, simply label non-work activities as “Out of Office”.

4. Rethink Your Work Week
Experiment with different schedules, like an abbreviated week with longer hours, and find one that works best for you. Identify times when you’re most productive and use them to get the most work done.

5. Communicate with Your Manager
If you’re unhappy with how work is affecting the rest of your life, it’s best to be open about your concerns, even if it means slowing down. Not only will your manager appreciate the transparency, but you can work together to find the best solution for you and your team.

6. Learn to Say No
To extra projects or commitments, that is. You’ll find your better off in the long run if you can learn to protect your time by tactfully saying “no” to some of those extra tasks and projects that don’t contribute to your goals or company priorities. 

7. Take a Vacation or a Long Weekend
When was the last time you took a day off? Remember, you earn your vacation time, so don’t be afraid to use it. Even if you have a staycation, you’ll return to work feeling reenergized and less stressed, which lets you be more productive.

8. Work Smarter, Not Longer
Though sometimes long hours can’t be avoided, you can often make it out of the office on time if you work more efficiently. Try scheduling an hour on your calendar where you close your office door, turn off your cell phone and really dig into a project.

9. Hire Help
Having it all doesn’t always mean doing it all. When you spend all your free time doing chores or running errands, it hardly seems like your day off is something to look forward to. Consider hiring a housekeeper or an errand runner so you can make the most of your evenings and weekends.

10. Volunteer
Giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding ways to spend your free time. Channel your skills and interests into something that benefits others to relieve stress in a productive way.

11. Set Time Limits and Stick to Them
Even if you need to catch up on some work after dinner or over the weekend, you shouldn’t be spending all your free time writing reports or answering emails. When you don’t have a huge deadline or an upcoming release, make a commitment to stop working by a certain time. Same goes for your tasks around the house – if you budget time for chores and stick to them, you’ll be able to spend more time  

12. Reward Yourself 
It’s important to slow down every once in a while and take inventory of all that you’ve accomplished to remind yourself what it’s all about. Celebrate successes and reward yourself after a long week—you deserve it.

13. Give Up the Guilt 
Face it—no one can perfectly balance work and life all the time. You’re never going to have the time to do everything you want, so don’t feel guilty about not doing more—at work or at home—because it’ll only make you more stressed.

The truth is even those with the best work-life fit can't fit everything into in one day. Take it in stride and shift priorities and deadlines as necessary. Don't be so hard on yourself—even Melinda Gates wants more time.