Time is THE MOST important in my opinion. It’s one of the only things in life we don’t get back. I don’t say that to be dramatic, rather realistic.
When it comes to relationships, goals, rest and anything valuable to you, I encourage you to focus on learning to protect your time.
You have choices. And those choices often either include you being in control of how your time is used or you allowing others to dictate how your time is used. Because that is the truth – yes, there are always things that will happen outside of your control. That’s life. But far too often, I think people allow other people and circumstances to use up their time when they’d rather be using it otherwise.
That’s the real topic of today – how to lead with decisions that feed how you ACTUALLY want to use your time. And this WILL inevitably cause you to get uncomfortable because it means saying no to people, turning down invitations, and having people question you. THAT can be a very hard reality for some people. You don’t want to disappoint, or feel awkward, or have someone else feel awkward.
But you are not responsible for the way your NO makes someone else FEEL. That’s in their backpack, not yours. More on that later.
So, just know that protecting your time sounds fancy, and liberating. But it’s not easy, and you may offend loved ones and friends in the process. Just a heads up.
Now, let’s get into the three ways you can start protecting your time.
And in protecting your time – creating more freedom, space, and clarity for you. To reach goals, create goals, or just do whatever the heck you want to with it!
SET & EMBRACE BOUNDARIES
As an entrepreneur and someone who has taken training very seriously over the years, learning to set boundaries around my time has been monumental for reaching goals and staying on course. And this is not something I am naturally good at. I don’t know that anyone is naturally good at this to be honest.
I can imagine for moms, protecting your time is HUGE. By default, part of your time is simply NOT YOURS. This is also why I tell single women to chase their freaking dreams with everything they have while there is no significant other or small humans to consider in that process. It’s the optimal time to be selfish. So I encourage it heavily. That’s not to say you can’t chase dreams and goals in a relationship or while raising kids, but it would be naive and borderline ignorant to think it’s the same as doing so without having other people to consider.
As moms, you have the demands of other humans whose survival literally depends on you. So, protecting the small amount of time you get yourself can be a game changer.
I also want to point out this doesn’t have to be bath tub time or self pamper time. It’s just saying you’re going to spend X amount time doing Y and then setting boundaries to protect that relationship with yourself and your time. So whatever it is that YOU want to do with YOUR TIME – that’s what I am referring to.
So, how do we set boundaries around our time?
First off, you can’t have a boundary if you don’t know what you’re keeping in and out of bounds right? And side note – you’ll find that all three of these “ways to protect your time” overlap and can be used together.
For setting and embracing boundaries – you’ll need to come up with the actual boundaries.
If you work for yourself, this is stopping work at a certain time, or perhaps dedicating a certain amount of hours to work per week.
For anyone – this could be sleeping with your phone in a different room.
In relationships this could be how much time you give a certain person per week or per day depending on the relationship. How much time you give to a certain task within that relationship.
Play with this. There is no boundary to boundaries. You have time, and you’re simply deciding what is a yes and what is a no for that. If you’re doing something with your time that you don’t want to do anymore, then something has to change. And setting boundaries can be very helpful in that process.
I only do True Coach check ins one day per week. That’s a boundary I have with my time. I hate working past 6pm – it feels like my work seeps into my life too much at that point. So I set boundaries with myself.
When lifting weights is a top priority for me, I don’t stay out past 10pm. That’s something I am willing to do because I know how monumental sleep is for me when I take training seriously. I have no problem saying to friends, “yeah, we can totally meet up, but I’ll have to head home before 10.” How they respond to that is not on me.
Often I think people are too concerned that the other person will feel that whatever you’re choosing is “more important” than them or what they’re asking you to do. It’s not a them thing. It’s a time thing. Yes, having time to get groceries after getting coffee with a friend is more important than spending an extra hour with that friend. I need groceries, and this is the time when that can happen. It’s really not personal.
Separate it my friend. Boundaries mean there has to in fact BE A BOUNDARY. Meaning there will have to be no’s – that’s not allowed, that’s out of bounds for me and my time.
Also, this can change. I mentioned that I have different boundaries around time when I am training seriously than when I am not. Same goes for business – when I am creating a new product or launching something, I will have different boundaries for my time. So don’t feel restricted or stuck with these boundaries. They can change, and will ebb and flow with your life. And remember they are there to create space and freedom for you, to help you have less resentment towards time and how you’re using it.
Let’s move on to number two…
Track your time! This has been huge for me in my life, period. Our perception is so often incorrect about how we spend our waking hours.
What we track, we can manage.
Tracking your time and then planning your time is so helpful in PROTECTING IT. If we don’t track it, do we really know how we are currently using it? No. I don’t think so.
So, you can track your time in a an electronic situation like Google Calendar, or you can use the Notes app or do what I do, which is use a paper planner with actual time slots in it. My fav planner is the Day Designer. And the larger version has 30 minute time slots from 5am to 9pm I think. While traveling I use the smaller version which only has hour increments from 7am to 7pm.
Regardless of the time slots, I write exact times in the planner next to tasks everyday. Call me crazy, it helps me see how I really spend my time. I write when Nate and I go to breakfast, if I scrolled Instagram, if I took a shower, if I did True Coach check ins with my clients, or drafted podcasts, wrote programs, worked out, or edited photos. It all goes in the planner. At least 85-90% of the time I’d say.
I started tracking my time like this a LONG time ago when I was in college, doing to internships and working. It was the only way I could do all the things and keep my head on straight. And it has stuck with me ever since. I just like to see the data and give context to progress or lack of progress. Hopefully you can grasp that.
So if you don’t track your time now, I encourage you to do so. Like I said, I did it in college while working and having two internships in two states. You can do it. If you want to see how you spend your time, track it.
It is also beneficial to track your time when looking back. So you can reflect on the last week, month, or year and see why something did or didn’t happen. Maybe why you’re feeling a certain why about something.
Tracking your time can be a great way to start protecting it. I highly suggest doing it.
WRITE DOWN NON-NEGOTIABLES
I am sure you won’t be surprised that the third way to protect your time also involves writing. And in a way it is a combination of 1 and 2. I’m a huge fan of writing things down. The best experts in most areas of life will tell you that there is power in writing down goals, visions, aspirations and affirmations.
Your time is no different. Write down your non-negotiables. This could also be your boundaries. I know I feel like crap if I stay out late. I know I eat worse, and likely drink more – even if just at a friends house. Nate and I are definitely not party animals, and you know I like my 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
So, a non-negotiable for me could be a bed time.
Again, this non-negotiable could be something I write down for a weekend trip, or a straight up lifestyle non-negotiable.
But either way, write them down. What do you stand firm on with your time? In your biz, this could be hours in which you respond to clients. Or when you check your email. For me, it’s writing time – I write the best in silence, uninterrupted. So, I don’t write if that’s not the case. I just know that it feels like a waste of time to try and write while multitasking or having distractions. That’s a non-negotiable for me.
However you want to use your time – what are non-negotiables for you? Identify them, and write them down.
This can be something you write in your planner or on your phone screensaver. But claim it. Make it clear to yourself so you can make it clear to others if need be. For instance, Nate knows that I want to rage and poke his eyeballs out if he up and speaks to me when I am writing or in a work flow. Don’t freaking talk to me. That’s a boundary, and a non-negotiable. And I discovered that through writing in my Friday Reflections, which is another non-negotiable for me. It’s worth my time to reflect and plan on Fridays for 30 minutes.
In that Friday reflection I have to identify three lessons from that past week. And I kept repeating that I write and work best in silence, without distraction. So that quickly became a non-negotiable for me.
Like I said, writing is powerful. Well really, just processing and reflecting is powerful. However you do that best. I know friends who use therapy or voxer to process and improve because they are verbal processors. That works too!
But either way, however you do it, proclaim your non-negotiables in regards to how you are willing to spend your time. Because you, my friend, are in control of more than you think. And you’re probably making choices right now that don’t serve your real desires, and could be easily changed with some tracking and setting empowering boundaries.
Hopefully you got something from this episode. Time is important and it’s kind of a big deal. Your time is not my time. Which is beautiful. We each get to decide how we spend a large portion of it.
That’s all I’ve got! Protect your time. You can, and I think you’ll enjoy life more if you give it a go.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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