Portrait of a beautiful woman doing breath exercises with an autumn unfocused background

Start making time for your number one fan – you. Time styler Kate Christie talks to Get it editor Elizabeth Campbell about how to win back 30 hours a month. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

As you read this, you’re most likely battling an unrealistic deadline, talking to your child/husband/mum/bestie on the phone, updating your Facebook status, emailing yourself a few to dos and thinking about your weekend away with the girls and what you’re going to pack…and that’s just this second. No wonder we are overwhelmed, anxious and stressed out. You’ve probably asked yourself, ‘how on earth do you get more time in the day?’.

How does 30 hours a month sound? Time-management expert Kate Christie says she helps women get back precious to spend on themselves. Thirty. Hours. A. Month. That’s an hour a day just for you.

Ask the next person you greet in the street “How are you?” and chances are the response will be “I’m busy!”. Busyness seems to have acquired significant social status, says the Time Stylers’ founder and director.

“But don’t be fooled, busyness is not a badge of honour. It’s an insidious, time-sapping disease. I truly believe that busyness is a lifestyle choice and you can choose not to be so out of control. I challenge you to reject being ‘busy’. Stop being constantly accessible. Stop saying ‘yes’ to every request that comes your way. Stop letting your kids have a week full of after-school activities,” she says.

In getting back your 30 hours of lost time a month, Kate says it’s crucial you spend at least some of that time on yourself.

“Put it this way, if you eventually burn out trying to ‘do it all’ you will be replaced by a team of people to pick up where you left off. So, if it takes a team to replace you, how can you honestly maintain the pace of doing it all yourself? ‘Me time’ is critical to your health, happiness and for you to be the best version of you.”

Aristotle said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.’ In other words, we are creatures of habit, says Kate, so it’s crucial to implement and then sustain great time-management habits.

“Managing your time well is not about being perfect. It’s about being smart. It’s about being mindful of your habits and routines – the tasks you spend your time on; how much time you allocate to each task; and the best time for you to perform each task,” says the best-selling author of the book Me Time.

“When was the last time you stopped and asked yourself: Is this the best use of my time? Like any bad habit, poor time-management habits can be hard to break. Just like starting a diet, quitting smoking or starting an exercise program, recognising and then adjusting your habits takes work.

“We are constantly accessible via our multiple portable devices and this results in a huge drain on our time. However, it’s more how we choose to use our device. We often don’t use our time well. For example, on your 20-minute train trip why use your device to surf social media when you could use it to listen to a business podcast or learn a new language?

When asked if it’s just a case of poor time management or simply trying to get too much done in the time we have, Kate says it’s both.

“In terms of multitasking, it is a commonly held belief that as women, we are great at multitasking, and more so that we are awesome for our ability to multitask. But this is a furphy. Research by Meyer has shown multitasking – the act of juggling more than one task at a time or quickly jumping in and out of tasks – amounts to a 40 per cent productivity loss,” she says. “Focus on one task at a time and you will quickly get through more each day.

“Saying no and mapping your time so you know where you are losing it can help alleviate the pressure. Insource – what can you get your kids to start doing for themselves? I think it’s important to think of your time as money. If you earn $50 an hour and you spend an hour a day on Facebook, that’s costing you $18,250 a year. Always ask, ‘is this the best use of my time?’.”

Kate’s top time-styling tips: 

Kate consults to big and small business, government departments and C-suite executives on smart time management; how to maximise productivity at home and work; and how to retain top talent via smart time-management strategies. Here is her five-step process to get more hours into your day whether at home or at work.

Self-aware: Understand your values (where do you want to spend your time) and your time-management challenges (your key pain points). This gives you a baseline.

Map: Map a typical week to see where you spend your time to help you understand your habits. Once you know in detail where you spend your time, you can identify exactly what you need to change.

Analyse: Take your map and segment each task into one of four time segments. Musts (tasks you have to do); Wants (tasks you want to do); Delegates (tasks you can get someone else to do) and Rejects (tasks you can do smarter or not at all).

Reframe: From your map and time analysis identify exactly what you are going to start doing differently.

Take control: Establish an action plan to ensure you implement and then sustain your new time-management habits.

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