Today’s blog is all about time management, aka digging into the most common excuse I encounter as a yoga teacher, which is, “I don’t have time for that.” Today we’re going to be talking a lot about why you DO have time, how you can make the time, and how you can embrace changes in your schedule.

Let’s face it, anything that encourages us to change our life dramatically is probably not the easiest thing to do. It probably requires us to step out of our comfort zone. It probably requires us to make some lifestyle changes. It definitely requires us to step up to the plate and try something new, something we’ve never, ever even dreamed we would try.

Last week’s blog discussed how to survive a long yoga practice. Some people, like myself, who are currently working on a long practice (Ashtanga yoga or otherwise), are spending two hours or more on their mat per day. Even if you go to a one hour yoga class, you’re going to have to learn to manage your time well. After all, that hour doesn’t include getting to the studio, getting your kids settled in childcare, taking a shower after, etc. Clearly, practice is a time commitment, and we do it because of what we get back. We do it because it gives us clarity, steadiness, focus, patience, tenacity. It makes us more centered in who we are no matter what we are dealing with on any given day.

When I tell people how much time I spend on my mat, the most common response is, “Oh, I wish I had that kind of time”, which always makes me laugh. We all have 24 hours in one day. It’s not like I miraculously have more time than other people. I am a wife and devoted parent, just like many of my students. I have my own career, which I have built myself, and requires my time and energy. The reality is my practice is high on my priority list, which is why I MAKE the time to do it.

We always have to defer to the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing. I practice because it’s very much like a prescription drug for me. It gives me what I need, physically and mentally, so I can be better for other people, and I can better serve others with my divine gifts. Always remember your WHY in regard to your yoga practice. This will inspire you to make the time.

Now for the fun part….HOW do you make the time?

I’ve had students say, “I don’t have time for that. I’m too busy. I’m spread too thin” in regard to going deeper in their yoga practice. I’ve seen these same people move heaven and earth to watch the finale of Breaking Bad. Time was not their issue. Their challenge was they had not yet made their practice a priority. So yes, your priorities might need to shift if you want to create real change in your life.

Take An Inventory Of Your Time

If you want to create more time for positive change in your life you MUST have a clear picture of where you are right now. To do this, take a thorough inventory of your time. Much like someone seeking a cleaner way of eating keeps a food journal to be more conscious around their eating habits, keeping a time journal will show give you much insight into all that time which is “slipping away” from you each day. From the moment you wake until you go to bed, log how much time you spend in each part of your day. If your morning routine of showering and getting ready takes 30 minutes, write it down. If your commute is 15 minutes, write it down. If you go to check email on your phone and end up scoping out Instagram for 10 minutes, write it down. Note when you’re eating dinner and don’t be afraid to mention if you multitask through it. Note how much time you spend tucking your kids into bed at night.

Not only will you see exactly how your time is being used, but also what things you might be able to declutter from your day.

IMPORTANT: When taking an inventory of your time, do it without judgment. People often become concerned with doing things “right”. Don’t get overly analytical or perfectionistic about it. Just observe and see what is going on and where there might be opportunities to open up some time for yourself.

In order to go further you MUST, take an inventory. Try not to develop resistance around doing this. When we shine a light on something we might not like what we see. It’s okay. You’re doing this to learn more about yourself and improve your life. So make an inventory of your schedule. Notice the patterns. Notice the times of day you do certain things. Notice the emotional things that occur around certain activities that you do. Maybe you numb yourself with food, or maybe you numb yourself with your iPhone at the end of a long day. Just be aware. Don’t judge it.

Once you have taken that inventory, the next step is to declutter your schedule. You might find that blocking certain times in your schedule to do a group of tasks makes it easier for you. For example, the average person checks their email 150 times a day, if you can believe that. You might decide that you’re only going to check your email five times a day, and put those times in your calendar so you stick to it. This will give you some freedom in terms of being able to let your phone go at different times of day, and create some space for yourself to be more mindful.

You might find that you’re eating at times of day which don’t really give you a lot of energy, and you need to change that. You might find certain activities which occur during the day, such as watching a TV show, doesn’t serve your highest purpose anymore. That time could be used instead to get more rest, work on a project you’re really passionate about, meditate, or step up your yoga practice.

For me, it’s all about sleep. I’m always looking to declutter during my afternoon and evening so I can get into my bed earlier at night. My mornings start early and I like it this way. I’m better when I’m an early riser and do my practice as soon as I wake. Obviously, the earlier I can wind down in the evening the more rested I am when I get up the next morning.

Declutter what is in the way, and free up time for what really serves your higher purpose.

Have a cut off time at night from all of your devices.

I know I do not sleep well if I am in front of a screen right before I try to go to bed. If you notice this too, wind down by reading a book, journaling, or taking a hot bath. The point is to unplug! Give yourself some time and space to get away from the screens, the work, and the responsibilities, so your brain can shut down. This is a crucial part of your day.

It isn’t an accident I often speak about unplugging and nurturing yourself. If you’re tired, EVERYTHING seems harder. Everything more daunting. So make sure you’re getting enough rest, especially if your practice is early in the morning. But no matter what, don’t run yourself ragged. Burnout is never worth it.

My last tip, which might seem obvious is, it can be really hard to make the time if you’ve lost your inspiration, or if you’re feeling run down. Do something for yourself that will reconnect you to your spiritual purpose and reconnect you to your why. Everyone has to reconnect at some point, so don’t get down on yourself if you’ve lost your mojo. Instead of wasting your time getting down on yourself, spend your time seeking out an inspiring event to go to, which will reignite your fire for your yoga practice. Then put that event in your calendar and make arrangements for it. Get excited, knowing it’s going to serve your higher purpose.

If you need to baby step into that, there are plenty of amazing webinars you can partake in from the comfort of your own home. I have one coming up which is a phenomenal online yoga philosophy course designed to help busy people take their practice to the next level (click here for more). Do what you need to do to stay connected to your why. This is why I go to India for a whole month every year. This is why I visit my teacher, Eddie Stern, in Brooklyn weekly. This is why I read books. This is why I can give to others without resentment.

Anything that you need to do to keep yourself inspired is worth investing in. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, though it certainly can, like a yoga retreat. It will provide you months of inspiration in many cases. So do it. Invest in yourself. You’re worth it.

Feeling stuck? Click here to email me for some personalized help or drop a line in the comments below.

Struggling with Your Self-Practice?