How to find more time

Written byHelen Soutar

Helen is a strategist who specializes in Resilience. Mum to Harry and Kit who are both rapidly reaching the stage of looking down to her, she spends her days home educating and then escaping to her studio in the garden to work

9th August 2017

One of the common themes for the clients I work with is how on earth do they find the time to make progress on new projects, or the ones they’ve been trying to juggle for a while, whilst they are already working at full capacity.  One client asked me recently ‘how on earth am I going to find the time to create a whole e-course?!’

The answer is micro slots.

Let me explain.  When thinking about jobs that need to be done, we tend to group them – we talk about doing the washing as a single task when it’s actually made up of several different actions: putting the clothes in the machine and switching it on, taking the wash out, transferring it to a tumble dryer or hanging it out, collecting it back in, ironing (ha! not in my house!), folding and finally putting away.  Start to finish, the whole job might take the best part of a day (including waiting for the wash to finish, for the clothes to dry etc).

Laundry dolly


If you were to look for a day, you might struggle to work out how to fit it in.  Micro slots means you take 10 minutes to gather the dirty washing, pop it in the machine and set it going.  Later, you take 15 minutes to hang it out.  Later still you collect it in, another 10 minutes.  Ironing might take an hour and then folding and putting away 10 minutes.  Instead of needing a day to do the washing you need 5 micro slots of between 10 and 60 minutes.  The first slot might be whilst waiting for the kettle to boil and tea/coffee to brew.  The 2nd, waiting for lunch to cook.  For most of you this will be something you are familiar with.

This same strategy can be used with any task.  Creating an e-course is just a longer list of actions, keeping on top of the admin or wages is a shorter list that needs to be completed more frequently.

The key to using micro slots is working out what tasks need to be done (and if you are short on time delegating as many as possible and then prioritising the rest) and assigning each task a time and frequency.  E.g. wages: 20 mins 1/week; emails: 10 mins 2/day.  Once you have a clear idea of what kind of length slots you are looking for, they become easier to spot.

Examples of where you might find your micro slots:

  • Waiting for food to cook
  • Whilst your children watch a favourite programme
  • Standing in the queue at the supermarket
  • Whilst watching / waiting for your children to finish their class/activity
  • Waiting for the kettle to boil
  • Whilst your children are baking/crafting/writing/playing in the garden
  • Between appointments

Often the trickiest bit is breaking each job down into specific tasks, and being as detailed as possible.  For example, if you want to create videos you might need to assign 30 mins, 2/week for filming…but before you can get started with that you need to make sure you’ve got the right hardware, maybe you need to research microphones, find an autocue app and order a tripod.  Assign each of these tasks a time and start looking for your micro slots.  Smart phones mean all of those tasks could easily be done whilst stood in the queue at the supermarket or whilst waiting for your son’s ballet class to finish.

Now go forth and find your time!

P.S. If you get stuck and want some help, book in with me here

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