A few years ago, I gave a talk on `11 Ideas to redefine your life’ to a group of business people & professionals. During the QnA, one gentleman asked me, ‘How do I find more time for my family’?
I still remember my response: ‘It’s about prioritizing what we want out of life. We need to set our own rules. We need to question the default routine of the world (a typical 9-5 or a 9-9 job). Who set it up? We follow the rules simply because we consider them to be the norm of life. The current format of life is to spend most of the time working and if we are left with any time, we spend it on self. Why not reverse this trend? What about ‘reverse time management’; that I will use my time on myself and my family first and then if I get time, I will work.’
Days and weeks later, when I reflected back on my answer, I thought it was quite profound and I did introspection if my own life was aligned to the concept of reverse time management. There were gaps.
I found the idea so compelling that I decided to experiment the same in my life. I started cutting down on work to find more free time for myself. I made few changes; the most effective was the use of 80/20 principal. I increased my focus on 20% of my clients who were giving me 80% of business and cut down big time on other clients. Surprisingly, my revenues did not fall, though my future growth rate may have been impaired a bit. This one change itself saved me a couple of hours every day. With a strong will and a few more changes, within a year’s time I was able to cut my work hours by over 60%. Today, I typically work for around 20-25 hours every week and I am able to give sufficient time to myself, family and my passion.
I do understand that different people have different challenges and the concept of working less number of hours may not be immediately feasible for them. I have a few ideas for them:-
Prioritize your life
Be dead sure about your priority. Do you seriously want to have more time for yourself and family? If the answer is yes, start working towards it. You will find a way. It is important that your intent and actions align with your priority to get the desired result.
Revisit your job/work
If you are serious about your goal, revisit the job or work you do. Ask for flexible timings from your employer. If needed, change your job or become a freelancer. If you want the sky, you need to give up on earth. If your job/work demands a lot of time and you can’t change it for some reason; cut down on everything else (unnecessary meetings, socializing, TV, newspaper, social media, etc.). Even if you free up a couple of hours every day, it would be a good beginning. You can see my ideas on time management here.
Take your time
It is not necessary to do it in a hurry. Analyze your schedule closely. Even if you make one change at a time, you will reach your goal.
Our lifetime is limited. A lot of it is already over. Take control of what is left.
You may like my earlier article on ‘Reverse Life‘