Is time really on our side?

One of my favorite statements to refute is that there aren’t enough hours in the day. I’m not really sure what that means in the grand scheme of things. We all get 168 hours in a week. That’s 24 hours a day. Yet, still, people feel overwhelmed. Tired. Out of control. On the verge of a breakdown. Angry. Sad. Defeated.

I used to feel like that. I used to feel like I had no control over my life. And, well, it was true. I was a mere child – I didn’t have control over my life. My father passed away when I was 12 and the responsibility of life came on full force. Then, my mother got sick when I turned 14. I was her caretaker. And mine. And my sister’s. And then, my mother died when I was 16. I refused to change schools again; I finished high school with the help of a family friend who let me live with her and pay half the bills. Every weekend, no matter what my exam schedule was like or whether there was a JROTC competition, and regardless of whether I was overwhelmed, tired, angry or sad, I left school, walked two miles to the Greyhound station and took the bus to visit my sister – 90 minutes away. I stayed with her for the weekend, then I turned around and came back … and then I did it all over again. Every. Single. Weekend.

Then, graduation came and I went to work. Then, college. I earned scholarships. I saved. I stayed busy. And then that’s when the responsibility really heaped on – my sister turned 12 and we all agreed she would have the right to choose where she lived. And she chose to live with me. So, I began to raise my sister, eight years younger – all at a ripe age of 20.

I always worked full time, went to school full time, raised a child that was not mine. I volunteered for the morning carpool shift so that I wouldn’t have to leave work early in the afternoons. We woke up at 4:45 every morning and left the house by 5:20. We picked up the other girls and I dropped them off by 6:50. I got to work by 7:30 and stayed until 4:30. Then, if there was a recital or parent-teacher conference, I would go, and then on the other nights, I went to class. My sister would stay with friends or family members until I got home, and then that’s when the real work began: checking homework, making lunch for the next day, paying bills, doing laundry, balancing checkbooks, cleaning house, doing my own homework.

In other words – it was hard, but I made it happen.

When people tell me there aren’t enough hours in the day, I tell people this story. Inevitably, they always say, “I just don’t know how you did it. How did you do all that? I can’t even get all the errands done in a day.” My answer is always the same, “I just did it. Nothing special. You just do what you have to do.” Now that I’m older and wiser, I realized that in reality, that was not the case.

What actually happened is that as time passed, I learned how to work better, compartmentalize, prioritize, advocate for myself and for my time. I learned how to get everything done, still get 8 hours of sleep and live a happy life. I learned this from friends, from advisors, from professors and from reading. And now, I live on two continents, with clients on both sides of the Atlantic. I still make it happen … I keep these lessons with me so that I can achieve my wildest dreams. And somehow, that wildest dream has turned into helping others achieve theirs.

So, when you think there aren’t enough hours in the day, you’re right. There aren’t when you’re trying to shove 36 hours into 24. But, there are ways to make those 24 hours work for you, not against you. One of them is saying “no” to people. Another is planning. Or following up. Or breaking goals into tasks and then scheduling those tasks.

Having one reasonable, achievable goal for the day.* Scheduling time for yourself. Heck, I even schedule sleep!

I love teaching time management. Why? Because I get to tell people all the hard things I did, alone, and let them sigh a big sigh of relief, thankful for their support circle, and then, the best part – they get to take the shortcut. It’s not necessary for you to walk in my shoes to learn from my experience. You do, however, have to care enough to have the quality of life you want – and sometimes, well, that means doing the hard work now, to enjoy life later. It’s all about perspective.

It’s time to make it happen. For you. For your friends. For your family. For happiness. You deserve it. I know I do. If you want to start moving toward the life you deserve, I’m your girl.

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About Sheila: An attorney, a social worker and an educator, she’s unlike any other person you’ve ever met. She thrives on a challenge, loves to solve puzzles and fix things and definitely loves helping make other people’s lives better – stronger – more efficient – happier. She tells terribly corny jokes, but maybe, just maybe, if you’re nice to her, and even laugh at her jokes, you’ll get something specially baked, just for you. Yep. For real.
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I have two goals each day: (1) to make a stranger laugh and (2) to be a better person each day than I was the day before. I meet these goals. Every. Day.

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