022: Banking Time: 5 Tactics for Focusing on Your Priorities | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
June 13, 2017   |   Episode #:

022: Banking Time: 5 Tactics for Focusing on Your Priorities

In This Episode:

We spend time like it’s endless, when really it’s a finite commodity. If you start treating your time like you do your bank account, you’ll find that there are ways we can find pockets of time in our daily schedules. Use these 5 actionable tactics for banking up your time and start getting more time for yourself and your priorities.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Instead of 24 hours a day, look at life as having 168 hours a week.

Questions I Answer

  • Does productivity affect mindfulness?
  • How can I find more time in my day?
  • What steps can I take to be less busy?
  • How can I be more productive with my time?

Actions to Take

  • Try using the Moment app on your phone (and use with the family if needed!)

Key Topics in the Show

  • Understand banking your time is just as important as saving money.

  • Learn the negative effects of always thinking you’re too busy.

  • Discover the banking time formula you need to use & evaluate.

  • Implement the 5 strategies to bank up time that you can use today.

Resources and Links

  • Tips on How to Find More Time in Your Day:
    • Measure & reflect: Think about where you spend the majority of your time in your daily life. Ask yourself these questions: What are the activities that you do that get you the most results? The results that make you happy. What helps you advance towards your goals? Where can you cut your time waste? Determine what the most important things are and focus on those.
    • Automate your processes: For tasks that you do every day, week, or even month, set up automations. For example, we have a four-week automation calendar setup. Each task is assigned to the person who needs to complete it and it will repeat in 4 weeks. This lets you not have to think about it until it’s nearing time to complete again.
    • Reduce time spent at your workplace: Reduce meeting & meeting times. Think about asking for an agenda when you’re invited to a meeting, to see if you can determine whether it’s really essential for you to attend. That way, the meeting leader has to clarify what they called the meeting about in the first place. Even if you’re not the team leader, try to streamline your meeting so you can bank up your time.
    • Extending childcare time: Even adding on one extra hour can be helpful to you. Use that time purposely for yourself. Get smart about your kids activity time. For example, if your kid is always at soccer practice during the same time each week, maybe you could use that time between dropping them off and picking them up to do something for yourself. See if you can build a little bit of time in there for you to get a few things done.
    • Reduce technology use: Turn off your notifications. These distract from the tasks, and it cost you time to get back to work. You may be able to find huge pockets of time in the amount you spend on your phone. Most people are very distracted by their phone – and it takes real conscious work – not to get stuck down that rabbit hole.
Show Transcript

Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya  Dalton, and this is episode 22. Now, if you’ve been listening to season 2, you know  that all of these episodes have been about editing and streamlining. So, we’re trying  to figure out the clutter and the noise in our life, and get rid of some of that, so that  we have a little more breathing room in our day. Right? All of that is leading up to  where we are now. Today, we are going to be talking about banking your time. Just  like you plan your saving and your spending of your money, I believe that you need to  plan your saving and your spending of time.  

 I want you to think of it like this. Think about how stressful life can be when  you’re living paycheck to paycheck and what a relief payday can be during those  times. You feel like you’re stretched really thin, you don’t know how you’re going to  pay your bills, it’s really, really stressful. Think about how stressful it is though, to live  task to task. Back to back. And what a relief it is to have some downtime. I believe  you should treat your time just like you do your bank account because time is a  commodity. It’s one that is often undervalued.  

 I believe time is a commodity because it’s finite. Too often, we’re really quick to  say, “Sure, I can do that for you.” Or, “I can take on that project.”, without really  thinking about the time we have to spend on those things. Even when we don’t want  to do them. So, I want you to start looking at investing time just like you look at  investing money, and ask yourself, “Where’s the return on investment?” Let me tell  you what I mean by that. We would not invest our money in something that didn’t  have some sort of reward but, we often don’t think twice about spending our hard  earned time. The things that we spend time on can really pay off in terms of  benefiting our lives, both now and in the future. Some things though, that we’re  investing our time on, and these are the things that don’t really fit our personal goals  or priorities. Those don’t lead to any benefits at all so, I want you to think about the  return of investment. When you’re giving your commodity of time, you want there to  be a benefit in there for you.  

 Generally, the value and return you’re looking for, is better health, better  relationships, maybe reaching your goals, which means realizing your life purpose. So,  this is really all about effectiveness rather than efficiency. For example, instead of  managing time, where you get two seconds more efficient at every single email, I  want you to step back and I want you to figure out, “Are these emails you’re spending  this time on, actually significant in the first place?” If not, maybe they need to be put  aside and not invest your time in them. Give yourself permission to focus on what’s  really important.  

 You’re doing work in a way that you have breathing room, so you’re not  worried about every second being absolutely optimized. That’s what banking your  time is. What I hear from a lot of people, and a lot of my listeners is, “I’m so busy. I  have such a hard time finding the space in my day and finding the time.” So, why is it  that we’re so busy? What’s interesting is, when researchers research people they  always say they’re, “Too busy”, about every single part of their lives. Now, being this  busy isn’t really healthy. Being bust actually shrinks your brain. Isn’t that crazy?  Neuroscientists have found that the prefrontal cortex actually shrinks when a person  feels pressed for time, rushed or caught up in the overwhelm.  

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 We feel like we are busier now than we’ve ever been in the history of mankind.  Globally, we’re actually not more busy than we used to be. We really have more  leisure time than ever before. The average hours on the job around the world, have  actually been holding steady or going down in the last 40 years. Even though we  have more leisure time than we’ve ever had in the history of man, we’re overwhelmed  because our time is so fragmented.  

 Remember switch tasking, that we talked about back in episode 9? That  stopping and starting throughout your day, it makes your day feel longer and like  you’re using up all of your time. Having plenty of time while getting things done gives  you more of a sense of control, which then makes you happy and decreases your  stress. So, let’s talk about the time baking formula. Look at your external  expectations. So, these are the expectations that outsiders, or people outside of you  have. Think about the time that those things take. These are things you’ve told other  people that you’ll do. Then I want you to add in the time of your own internal  expectations. These include commitments you’ve made to yourself and the goals that  you’ve set. Then think about the hours you have available.  

 Here’s where I want you to make a big mind shift. We tend to think of our time  as being 24 hours. Right? We have 24 hours every day but, we need to shift the way  we’re looking at our time and start thinking about it. Instead of 24 hours in a day, I  want you to think about it in terms of having 168 hours in a week. Now, Laura  Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It, and next week’s guest on Productivity  Paradox, she likes to call it, “The 24 hour trap”.  

 We think that balance requires fitting all of our priorities into that 24 hour  container. Particularly, Mondays through Thursdays. You already know how I feel  about balance. We talk about that a lot on this show. It’s really all about harmony.  Even though the 24 hours in your day may not feel harmonious, the 168 hour week as  a whole really can be. So, it really is a mind shift. Let me give you an example. This is  an example from the book, I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam of Caroline  Polk, who’s the Chief Operating Officer for The Blaze. She was having trouble figuring  out her schedule because 5 to 6 p.m. was a busy time in the office. She felt this pull  to be at home with her kids. She didn’t know what to do. She wanted to leave early to  spend time with her kids, and she couldn’t because work was so jam-packed during  that time. So, she had to have a mind shift. She had to let go of the script in her head,  that a good mom has to be home for dinner with her kids, and that good mom has to  put them to bed every single night.  

 Instead, she changed the way she thought about that and she started her work  day later, so she could spend the mornings with her kids eating breakfast. Her  husband took the evening shift of feeding the kids and putting them to bed, and on  Fridays, she found she could work from home and work a shorter day. Instead of  telling herself that this is the way it needed to work, that she should be home at 5  o’clock to be at home having dinner with her family, she change that are round for  what actually worked in her life. Her 168 hours, she was still spending that really  important time with her family, it just didn’t fit the mold of what she told yourself  previously, that it had to be during dinner time.  

 In general, Vanderkam found that other participants in her time tracking  project would have more family time overall, by working past their kid’s bedtimes a  couple of nights a week. On those other nights, they would come home to be there  for bedtime. The other option was to come home every night at 7:30 so, it’s this ebb  and flow where you make the most out of your time. Not every night needs to look  the same. Thinking you should do the bedtime ritual nightly falls into that 24-hour  

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trap, and it limits your option because then, when you don’t do the bedtime ritual  that night, you feel bad. You feel guilty. If you start looking at the 168 hour option, it  gets you the long work hours and the time with the things that matter most to you.  When we think of it in terms of having these 168 hours, with eight hours of sleep at  night, which we talked about back in our last episode, where we talked about sleep,  that leaves you with 112 waking hours for the week.  

 That sounds like a lot more than you thought. Am I right? If I tell you, you don’t  have 24 hours in the day, you have 112 hours each week. That feels like we have so  much more room to breathe. Am I right? Now take that 112 hours, and I want you to  subtract the amount of time you need for self-care. That’s things like exercising, and  eating, things like that. Then, you want to make sure that those external and internal  expectations are not exceeding the time left in your day. They should not take over  the time that you’ve allotted for self-care. You want to be able to keep your  commitments, and not compromise. Don’t forget related time cost or maintenance  activities. Things like commuting, extra work, helping with homework, going to  meetings, answering emails, and things like that. Once you have those numbers, you  can start to make cuts, so you’re not constantly racking up a time debt and feeling,  well, guilty.  

 You’re no longer setting yourself up to fail. When you look at your time, this 112  hours, and you start taking out those self care commitments to yourself, those  external and internal commitments, and you start figuring out the time that you really  have, you’re going find that you’re going to be able to bank up a lot more time than  you actually thought you had. Then, when you’re planning future commitments, think  about it like, “Saving to buy a car”. You want to buy a car and you know how much  it’s going to cost, so what do you do? Do you just go buy the car or do you start  saving up? Do you start putting away money each week in each month until that date  where you have the money you want to buy your car? It’s the same thing with your  time.  

 When you’re thinking about taking on a new commitment, think roughly about  how much time it’s going to take. Pull up your calendar or your planner, and see if the  time is actually available for this. If there’s not room, then either you make two  choices. You can either not make the commitment, or you’ll need to get rid of  something that’s a lower priority. Just like when you’re saving for a car, you might  have to stop spending money on something else that’s a lower priority, because  you’re trying to save. You want to bank up your time. Does that make sense?   So let’s talk tactics, and let’s try to find some pockets of time into your packed  schedule that you really can bank up. How we going to do that? Well, I have 5 ideas  for you so, let’s go through those really quickly because I’d like you to start thinking  about banking up your time starting today. The first one is to measure and reflect.  Start off by thinking about where you spend the majority of your time in your daily  life. What are the activities that you do that get you the most results? The results that  make you happy. What helps you advance towards your goals? Where can you cut  your time waste? When you’re measuring and reflecting, you can realize that you  can’t do it all. Everything is not equally important. Determine what the most  important things are and focus on those.  

 What are the things that you and only you can do well? If someone else can do  the other things, you might want to try delegating or outsourcing them. We talked a  lot about this concept back in episode seven and eight. So, if you haven’t listened to  those, or if it’s been a while since you heard those, I would encourage you to go back  and give those a quick listen. Tip number two is to automate your processes. If there  

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are tasks that you do every day, or every week, or even every month, then try setting  up automations to make them get done without having to think about them. For  example, we have a four-week automation calendar setup. Each task is assigned to  the person who needs to complete it. The tasks repeat every 4 weeks, so if it’s a task  that gets done weekly, it repeats every single week. If it’s done once a month, it  repeats once every 4 weeks. When it’s done, we check it off and we don’t think about  it again, until it pops up on the task list again.  

 What’s nice about this system, is because we’re not thinking about it all the  time. “When do I need to do this task?” Or, “Oh no. This task is coming.” Because  we’re not thinking about it all the time, it takes far less time, and that’s time you’re  able to bank up. So, that’s tip number two. The third thing you can do is try to reduce  the amount of time you’re spending at your workplace, on things that are time  wasters, and the biggest one in my opinion, is meetings. So, try reducing your  meeting times or if possible, stop going to unproductive meetings all together. Now, I  know you might laugh and think, “That’s not possible.”, but have you tried? Have you  tried saying, “No” to some of these meetings? Think about asking for an agenda  when you’re invited to a meeting, to see if you can determine whether it’s really  essential for you to attend. That way, the meeting leader has to clarify what they  called the meeting about in the first place, and then you have concrete reasons to say  why, maybe you can’t attend the meeting, because you don’t have relevant  knowledge or expertise to contribute, or you won’t be affected by the outcome of the  meeting.  

 You can try that tactic. Try helping set expectations for how long the meeting  will be. Even if you’re not in charge of a meeting, you can help keep it on track by  focusing on the objectives. You can ask, “Can we take a minute to get clear on the  purpose or the topics of this meeting?”, and then you can even try using a timer  that’s visible, so everyone at the meeting is held accountable to keep you on track.  It’s really these little things that you can start implementing, even if you’re not the  team leader, to try to streamline your meeting so you can bank up your time.   The fourth thing you can do, is if you’re using childcare, you can consider  extending your child care time just a little bit. Even taking on an extra hour, and then  use that time purposely for yourself. Get smart about your kids activity time. For  example, if your kid is always at soccer practice during the same time each week,  maybe you could use that time between dropping them off and picking them up, to  do something for yourself. One of the moms in Vanderkam’s book used soccer time,  to go grab sushi and wine with another on of the soccer moms. So, start thinking  creatively about what you can do when you’re taxiing kids around, or if you have  childcare. Start seeing if you can build a little bit of time in there for you to get a few  things done. The fifth one, I think is the biggest one. Our biggest shiny object  offender, technology. So, whether you think you do or not, you probably have a little  more leisure time at work than you really think, but you’re maybe spending it on  things like BuzzFeed, or Pinterest, or Huffington Post. Try consider using that time a  little more purposely instead.  

 Turn off your notifications. We’ve talked about this one a lot. These distract  from the task at hand, and it cost you time to get back to work. You may be able to  find huge pockets of time and the amount you spend on your phone. Most people are  very distracted by their phone, and it takes real conscious work, not to get stuck  down that rabbit hole. Am I right? I know it’s something that I’ve struggled with too.  Consider downloading an app, that tracks your phone usage. Now, I use Moment,  which has a free and a paid plan, and throughout the day the Moment app runs in the  

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background. What it does, is it totals up the amount of time you’re spending on your  phone, and it records when you pick up your phone so you have the timeline of each  day. It shows you what time you picked up your phone, and how long you used it  each and every time. You’re going to be really surprised at how often your picking up  your phone. Trust me on this. What you can do, is you can set a limit for yourself. The  app will tell you when you’re close to your limit or when you’ve gone over your limit.  A notification will pop up every few seconds, telling you to put your phone away for  the day.  

 One of the things that I love, is you could even set up family phone use  tracking, so you’ll be able to see when your family is using their phones, and if they  happen to quit the app to stop tracking, you can even restart the app from your own  phone. This is a big one for me, as I’m trying to teach my son Jack, good technology  habits. While I have him at home, he’s 14, he’s really, really big on using his phone a  lot, and I’m really trying to train him to limit that time. One of my favorite things  about Moment, is the stats. These begin to show up after a few weeks of using the  app. One of the best stats is at the very bottom, and this is where it tells you how  many days you used Moment, and how much you’ve reduced your phone time. For  example, I’ve used moment for 79 days. In that time I’ve reduce my daily use by 9  minutes. Saving me six hours total, since I installed it. Six hours, just by eliminating 9  minutes a day. That time adds up.  

 This is time where I was just finding that I was picking up my phone, giving it a  quick check, maybe checking out an email really quickly, checking in on social media.  When I’m not doing that, I’m spending my time on something else in my day. Six  hours worth of my time, and that’s pretty significant. So, that’s five tactics you can  use to start implementing, banking your time today. If you have any questions about  it, I’m going to have a lot of information in our show notes, which you can access at  inkwellpress.com/podcast. Just go to episode 22, and I’ll have information about the  Moment app, I’ll have information about the five tactics we just talked about, and how  to figure out how to bank up your time. You’ll find that when you’re focused on the  essentials, you’re going to be getting your best work done in far less time, because of  that focus. This is where you begin to bank up your time.  

 Now next week, I’m really really excited because we do have Laura Vanderkam  joining me as a guest. She is the author of, I Know How She Does It. We talked about  her information a little bit today and I am absolutely thrilled to have her on next  week, so make sure you tune in. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about how you’re  banking up your time. Feel free to shoot me an email or you can connect with me on  social media, under the username @inkwellpress. I’m on Facebook, and Instagram,  and Twitter, and I’d love to see you there. Until next week, happy planning. 

**This transcript is created by AI, so please excuse any typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes.

Tanya Dalton has been called the best female productivity keynote speaker by audience members time and time again. She speaks on stages, is a best selling author and podcaster who focuses on time management, goal setting, finding purpose and helping employees find meaning in their work.