If you’re anything like me, you rarely have enough time in the day to accomplish all the tasks that you want. Time seems to always work against you. When you’re at work and wanting to get off, every minute lasts an hour. When you’re doing something you enjoy, every hour turns into a second. I’m a firm believer that despite what you may believe, we do have enough time in our days. The problem of running out of time usually stems from poor time management skills and bad habits.
There’s a reason why the military starts their days off with a PT (physical training) session every morning hours before most people are waking up. They realized that working the typical 9-5 scheduled block wasn’t enough time to accomplish all of their work tasks and ensure soldiers are staying physically fit. So they wake up usually around 5 A.M. and by 7:30 A.M. or so, they’ve already completed all their physical training for that day.
More than that, when I was a new soldier in the military, directly after PT was over my sergeant would always come inspect my room. If my bed wasn’t made and the entire barracks room wasn’t clean then I knew I’d be doing some well deserved extra PT, and it wasn’t going to be fun. When I was given a leadership role I did the exact same thing to the soldiers I was in charge of. They may have thought, just like I had in their position, that it was harsh and unfair since not many other leaders did that. But my soldiers quickly became disciplined and were more capable than most of their peers.
I was strict and my expectations were clear. There was no secret to why my soldiers were better equipped at their jobs than others or why they seemed to excel faster than their peers. The only thing I did differently is instill good habits and time management skills in them early on in their careers.
These good habits stuck with me and I truly believe that they helped mold me into a better person. I learned that if I woke up a few minutes earlier than I usually did, I could make my bed and clean up my room and living area. I started my day doing a routine. It sounds like a simple thing, but it was a nice feeling coming home after a long day to a clean room and kitchen. This naturally progressed to me enjoying it so much that before I would go to sleep at night I would end up cleaning, then in the morning all I had to do was my make my bed. It became such a natural part of my daily regime that I didn’t even have to think about, I just did it.
After I got out of the military I was a bit lost for a while. My first job after getting out was a car salesman. I was getting to wake up later and didn’t have to follow a routine. Then I quickly found that I was making excuses for everything. My apartment was never clean, I was skipping the gym every day, I was waking up right before I had to leave for work. I couldn’t figure out why I now worked less hours than I did in the military, but I somehow had less time to get everything done.
What I did is set another routine for myself. Even though I didn’t have to be at work until 9:00 A.M. I started waking up at 5:00 A.M again. I did that with the sole intention of going to the gym. At that time in the morning, before my day really began, I was not able to make excuses for not working out. So I went every day. Then I had ample time after the gym to clean my apartment, get ready and be early for work. Now I was coming home from a long day of work to a clean apartment and I had already worked out. So I had time to do what I wanted to do. When I was coming home before knowing that I had so much to do and clean, I didn’t want to do anything at all. It was easier to just sit on the couch and tell myself that I’d do it all tomorrow.
Setting a routine is one of the best things that you can do. It may take time to get into it, but you’ll find that the longer you do it, the more it just becomes a habit. You can develop bad habits by doing nothing, good habits take work to develop. Being lazy and binge watching Netflix all day every day is a habit even if you just consider it doing nothing. If that’s something you spend a lot of your time doing while you know you have other tasks to work on, then it is a habit. If you don’t want to wake up early and start your day like I do, then set a standard for yourself in the afternoon or nights once you’re off of work.
Write down tasks you want to accomplish and force yourself to do them. Your home may be a disaster right now and it may take you a long while to get it clean the first time. But once you get over the initial deep clean and begin to clean every day, you’ll find it only takes a few minutes. Washing a couple of dishes, doing a small load of laundry, throwing away the few items of trashed you used that day all goes by very quickly. So if you make that a routine you follow and incorporate that into your daily life, it turns into a quick chore instead of some daunting monthly task.
You’ll find that once you develop a routine at all, you’ll start to naturally do more positive things in your life. If I get home and do a small chore that makes me feel good before I immediately lay down and do nothing, I’m a lot more likely to do something else productive. All the writings, paintings and other hobbies I do only happen because I feel good and energetic before I do them. I didn’t do anything besides watch TV all day the first few months after I separated from the military. It wasn’t until I took control over my time again and had a more positive attitude from doing that, that I began to have the energy and time to do the things that I loved again.
So start small. Start with making your bed every day or doing the dishes every night. Something easy that you can do quickly. I guarantee that after a few times doing that, you’ll just start doing more. You may think that the dishes went by quickly, you’ll just go ahead and make your bed too. Then that will turn into you just cleaning your whole room. Then your whole home. Then you’ll feel good about that and want to keep that feeling going, so you’ll do something that you enjoy. It’s a natural progression.
I urge you to really look at your day and be honest with how you’re spending your time. Consider the possibility that you maybe do have enough time in your day to get everything done, you’re just not using your time the right way. If that’s the case at all, do as I’ve said and just try out a small chore every day. Keep doing that for a week and watch as you find yourself with more time and a better attitude every day.
Let me know of any similar routines you may do yourself. Or if maybe you’ve personally tried this and if it did or didn’t work for you. I’d love to hear from you!