If you find there is more to do in the day than you have time for, consider how your communication may be the culprit. Do you get a lot of texts while you are working on projects? How much time do you spend on social media, and more importantly, is it intentional or do you feel dragged in? How do you know the difference?

Try the following exercises:

  • Time yourself on social media.

    Are you spending 10 minutes a day or several hours? Do you use it consistently or sporadically? Does it help to set times to check email and respond? Does it help to have 2 separate devices, one for business and one for personal use? That way, on the weekends, you can carry only the personal one. Does it help to instruct coworkers on specifically when and how they should contact you? Emergencies only on the weekends, for example?

  • How do you respond when someone texts you?

    Do you immediately text back? Is there one person who texts you often? Do you feel compelled to respond when you don’t really have time? Recognize your ability to just not respond. While people may take offense if you say something rude, if you don’t respond until you have time, most people will understand, especially if it’s not a true emergency. Own your choice: there is no reason you must respond immediately to every request for your attention.

  • Take time to unfriend, block, unsubscribe, and change your frequency settings.

    If you are extremely busy, you may not do this maintenance regularly, and you need to. What you enjoyed hearing about a year ago may not interest you now. Discontinue streams of data that no longer interest you, freeing yourself to focus on the things and the people that really matter.

  • Have a conversation with yourself.

    Ask yourself if you do or don’t have time to respond to a given request. If you feel rushed and it’s not high priority, give yourself the freedom to delay or pass. This new behavior will become contagious, and self control is a good thing!

Personally I have found that just not responding immediately frees me to strategize how to respond, when to respond, and who to respond to. A delay is not a negative. If someone takes it as one, it may be that you haven’t communicated your preferences clearly enough. Let people know what you can and can’t do. If you find yourself overdoing it, take a look at your activity and choose your response patterns more carefully.