As everyone knows, a Calendar is the ultimate tool for identifying days. Calendar helps keep track of meetings and appointments or register those that have occurred already. What’s more, calendars can be used to remind us of special days, like a holiday or social event. And some people even use calendars to budget, plant seeds in our garden, or maintain a daily routine.
But, did you also know that you can also set yourself free with your Calendar as well? You’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive from having this Freedom. Why? Because this encourages self-care, stops time from “shrinking,” and promotes breaks. Even though you have a million things to do, we all need to take a time out occasionally.
But, more importantly, breaking from constraints allows you to live the life you want without any limitations. While everyone has their definition of Freedom, Natalie Sisson, best-selling author of the “Suitcase Entrepreneur,” explains, “Freedom is the possibility to have choice and purpose helps you choose. Freedom is the space around you, where your purpose is your compass showing you where to move in that space.”
How can you actually achieve this Freedom? Sission suggests;
- Define what Freedom means to you. Ask yourself the question, “What makes me feel free?” she says. Your next step is to write down your answers, discuss them with friends, and initiate conversations with people who matter to you.
- Understand why Freedom is essential to you. The more understanding you have of your needs and reasons why you desire those “freeing” things in life, the easier it will be to achieve them.
- Map out an action plan. First, you need to clearly define your ideal lifestyle and how you want to live it.
We’d also add that you need a calendar as well.
1. Take a time out.
“Freeing up your time starts with taking a step back to take a good look at your life,” writes Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Set aside at least an hour. Better yet, several hours or half a day. Of course, one full day would be superb. “A weekend would be even more ideal, though not necessarily practical for many folks,” he adds.
This block of time allows you to gain a sense of perspective on your life. To achieve this, ask questions, such as;
- Is it what you’ve always wanted?
- How would you get to where you’ve always wanted to be?
- What do you enjoy doing but don’t have enough time to do?
- What things actually fill up your day?
- Are there things you could drop or minimize to make more time?
In short, to get started breaking yourself for, you need to schedule a time to reflect and plan. When can so this whenever you please, like first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. The key is to actually follow through and have a dedicated block of time to reflect. Once blocked out, try to reduce interruptions, like putting your phone on silent.
2. Align your most important work with your chronotype.
“Your chronotype is just a fancy way of saying ‘your body clock,” explains Amantha Imber, founder of behavioral science consultancy Inventium and the host of How I Work. This is the natural sleep-wake cycle that we all follow. “Everyone has a unique chronotype, and it influences the peaks and troughs of energy we feel throughout our days.”
“Around 10% of people are stereotypical larks, who feel most energetic in the mornings,” adds Imber. “At the other end of the spectrum are the 20% of the population who are owls, or people who do their best work at night.” Many of us fall somewhere in between, peaking before noon, experiencing an energy dip after lunch, and getting a second wind in the afternoon.
According to Dan Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, you can get more done by paying attention to your chronotype and planning your tasks around your energy peaks.
“On days I plan to write, I do it in the mornings, when I’m most alert,” he told Imber. “I set myself a word count, and I won’t do anything until I hit it.” He also won’t bring his phone into the office or open his email. “Once I’ve hit my goal, I’m free to do other things.” Pink makes full use of his energy upon waking by avoiding distractions in the mornings and devoting his time to focused work.
When his energy drops in the middle of the afternoon, he tends to stick to manageable tasks. For example, answering emails or filing.
What does this have to do with Freedom? First, lock in your priorities when you’re most productive. Then, you can complete these tasks faster, leaving you with more availability.
3. Schedule time blocks.
I’ve mentioned time blocking several times above. But, what exactly is it?
“Time blocking is simply a time management technique where you set aside a specific amount of time for a particular task,” explains Calendar’s Howie Jones. “For example, instead of checking your phone every time you receive an email or social notification, you would do this at clearly defined times.” You can block out all or part of your day however you wish.
Some people, like Elon Musk, block out their entire day. Personally, I find this too restrictive — still, establishing time blocks for your priorities wouldn’t hurt. When you do stick some blocks of time on your Calendar — it prevents other less essential tasks from getting in the way.
What’s more, time blocks break us from the shackles of extensive to-do lists. Plus, since there’s a time limit attached to your daily responsibilities, you don’t get caught up in perfectionism or procrastination.
Furthermore, you will be able to reject requests for your time more easily. You can also use it to reflect on your priorities as it provides a record of the things you accomplished and did not accomplish in a specific period.
Keep your Calendar lean and more.
However, overstuffing your Calendar can be detrimental. When you have blocks of free time, you can attend to emergencies or adjust your schedule if you are procrastinating. Also, having buffers between meetings prevents you from running late. Plus, you need these free blocks of time to rest, recharge, and do whatever you feel like doing.
Additionally, schedule a time block to occasionally declutter your Calendar. As an example, you can declutter your Calendar by questioning all of your recurring commitments. Maybe that monthly mastermind session is no longer helpful. Has that commitment, in fact, become an obligation that you dread? If it isn’t helping you — it’s a timesuck, and you can remove it from your Calendar and replace it with something more fulfilling.
4. Refuse, delegate, or outsource.
There’s a good chance that you’re taking too much on if you’re a high-achiever. However, Greg McKeown writes in his book Essentialism that we cannot do everything given the complexity of trade-offs.
“The real question is not how we can we do it all; it is who will get to choose what we do and don’t do. Remember, someone else will choose for us and forfeit our right to choose. So we can either deliberately choose what not to do or allow ourselves to be pulled in directions we don’t want to go.”
It is not always your job to volunteer for unassigned tasks, even when asked directly if you can do something. You can mention your other work and deadlines — but you don’t need to excuse yourself, either. You can just say, “no, I can’t help you with this.” You shouldn’t be afraid of asking for help or delegating to someone else on your team who is more capable if you can’t refuse the task.
Outsource tasks in your professional and personal lives.
Outsourcing tasks can pertain to your private life more than anything else. Generally, people don’t outsource tasks or hire help because they save money by doing it themselves. However, your time is more valuable than saving money.
With that in mind, if you have the funds, you can outsource tedious and time-consuming tasks like laundry, cleaning, or grocery shopping. You could also hire someone else to file your taxes or manage your social accounts.
5. Automate what you can.
“Anything you can do to put recurring obligations on auto-pilot will help free up time,” former CEO and speaker Janice Holly Booth told Bustle. “Prescription refill programs, automatic 401(k) deductions, software that tracks spending, apps that remind you it’s time to get up and move — Removing the need to think about these things will help you focus on more ‘you-time.'”
Overall, when you don’t have to think about things, you will have more time on your hands to accomplish what really matters to you.
Automation doesn’t just mean putting recurring obligations on autopilot. Many experts will tell you to automate as many reoccurring tasks as you can. Automating your finances (payments, deposits, transfers) or setting up your alarms in advance are just a few examples where automating will save you time and usually money.
6. Consider the flowtime technique.
You can measure productivity habits and focus using a timed system with this method. The result is a discouragement of multitasking in favor of focused work, where you remain focused on a single task until it’s completed.
The method is used as an alternative to the Pomodoro Method, consisting of set amounts of work followed by a break. Despite the fact that many people have found the Pomodoro Technique quite effective, the time interval can feel constricting.
The Flowtime Technique does not oblige you to adhere to these deadlines. Thus, you will be able to remain focused without being pulled away by a timer.
7. Sometimes, you have to go with the flow.
Again, it’s not advisable to schedule every minute of your time. But, at the same time, constantly winging it can be stressful. It’s like trying to reach a new location without using a GPS.
Moreover, studies show that those who don’t schedule their free time are indeed happier. “When scheduled, leisure tasks feel less free-flowing and more forced — which is what robs them of their utility,” Selin A. Malkocan, an associate professor of marketing at Ohio State University and an author of the study “Activity Versus Outcome Maximization in Time Management,” told the Washington Post.
Additionally, going with the flow can make us more resilient. For instance, you won’t lose your cool when your plans go awry. Instead, you adapt and move on. And, taking this approach encourages us to enjoy the present.
With that being said — you’ll want to strive for the right balance in your life. That means adding your priorities to your Calendar before anything else. But, let’s say you have no plans this weekend — it’s okay to just roll with it and be spontaneous.
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