Mind & Body

How to win back 30 hours a month

On the latest Healthy-ish podcast, Kate Christie reveals how anyone can find an extra 30 hours a month. 

We know that there are 24 hours in a day, but by 10pm when we’re exhausted and slumped on the couch it feels like a lot less, even if we’ve crammed a lot in. So how do we reclaim those lost hours that seem to have slipped through our fingers?

On the latest episode of Healthy-ish, ‘Kick-arse time saving hacks for busy people’, Felicity Harley sits down with Kate Christie, the author of Me First: The Guilt-Free Guide to Prioritising You.

Christie is a single mother of three, a business owner, the best selling author of four books and a global speaker, so she understands the idea of using your time wisely.

She believes she can help anyone harness 30 hours of lost time a month and her theory isn’t the old adage of time management, it’s rewiring the way we think about time.

“When you think about the way you’re living your day. All of the multitudes of bad habits, that is what is wasting your time,” she says.

“We know what we’re wasting our time on is poor habits. If you grab that mobile phone within 10 minutes of waking up, you have lost control of your time from the minute you’ve woken up. And then you add in multitasking, back to back meetings, having the compulsion to be and feel and look busy. It’s the way we live and work.”

Christie believes the most important thing is to start thinking about time differently.

“When I work with my clients, there seems to be this whole piece around, ‘Oh, I, I need to manage my time better or my time management is terrible.’ And, and that’s just the wrong way to look at it. Time can’t be managed, you can’t stop it, you can’t rewind it, you know, time just marches on,” she says.

The key is to think of your time as you do your money, as an “enormously valuable precious, limited resource that has to be invested for the greatest possible return.”

“So from now on, think of it in terms of time investment, where am I going to invest my time today? Is this worth my time? Am I going to invest my time in this and it starts to have you look at those habits.”

Suddenly, that Instagram rabbit hole you just went down for half an hour is the equivalent of blowing your rent on a pair of designer sunnies.

Christie’s process for recalibrating your value of time is called the five smart steps.

Think of step one as a time-budget. You’ve heard of logging every dollar you spend, this is similar.

“Map your day. Even if you just did that as one step, you’re going to start getting time back. So from the minute you get up to the minute you go to bed just write down in real-time everything that you’re doing. So every time you switch tasks, every time you’re interrupted, every time you multitask, every time you become distracted, every email you open, every time you pick up your phone, and you’ll get real picture of how you’re spending your time,” she says.

“And then from that you can look at it and say, ‘Well, what are the tasks that I must do? What are the ones I want to do? And then everything else is up for grabs. Everything else can potentially be delegated, or rejected and done differently.”

Christie believes it’s important to play to your strengths. If you’re a morning person, protect that time at all costs – from others and from yourself.

“Build a six-foot high bulletproof fence around your mornings, and do your most impactful, strategic complex, revenue-generating hard work in the mornings. And don’t let anyone interrupt you, because every time you’re interrupted, your productivity goes down by 40%,” she says.

“An interruption could be as simple as you know, someone saying, ‘Can I have five minutes of your time?’, but most of the time, our interruptions come from ourselves, when we’re looking for distraction.”

Multitasking is also a time-sapper.

“We often think, incorrectly, that we’re going to get more done if we do more than one thing at a time. So we may have multiple screens open on our computer, we’re juggling multiple tasks, so we’re on the phone call whilst we’re typing something into a computer. Multitasking does not work,” Christie says.

“A great way to start getting time back is to single-task, single focus, do one thing at a time, and you will do it so much more productively.”

Christie’s book is written for working women who have kids, so it’s unsurprising that one of the big topics she tackles is guilt. Specifically, mum-guilt.

“It’s about saying, ‘Hey, you know, hello, it’s time to put yourself first.’ We are killing ourselves with this epidemic of selflessness as working mums,” she says.

“I think that the best way to think about guilt is firstly, it’s a big waste of time, because you’re just losing a heap of time and energy worrying about what you’re doing. Secondly, no one’s ever going to give you a badge for saying, ‘Hey, you were the best ever at being guilty.’ There’s no badge of honour that comes with guilt. So embrace that me-first mentality, put yourself first some of the time because it means you can turn up as a better person, a better mom, a better friend, a better daughter, whatever that role is.

“And if you’re happy, and you have energy, and focus for when you come back after having put yourself first, you know, there shouldn’t be guilt involved in that because it’s making you a better person.”

Want to hear more from Felicity Harley and the team? Listen to episode ‘Kick-arse timesaving hacks for busy people’ above, or download it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.