Effective Time Investment with Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Effective Time Investment – Not Time Management – with Elizabeth Saunders of Real Life E

Can you really manage time?

I’ve got to say, I think the answer is no. The only thing we can do is manage our processes within time. And whenever I work with people on time management, one of the things I share with them is: How are they able to do as much as they can in the allotted time of the project.

Well today’s guest is an expert in time management.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that partners with individuals on the journey from guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to accomplishing more with peace and confidence.

Elizabeth’s is an accomplished author and has appeared in Inc magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and on NBC, ABC, and CBS. She was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of the Year by Stiletto Woman.

Please join me in welcoming Elizabeth Grace Saunders.

On today’s show:

  • “Time investment” instead of “time management”
  • Why do we need to define our priorities to invest our time well?
  • How to make priority-based decisions
  • Why is saying ‘no’ important to prioritising?
  • How do you say ‘no’?
  • Elizabeth’s book – The Three Secrets to Effective Time Investment



For Elizabeth, starting a time management coaching business was a case of scratching her own itch.

After struggling to complete projects on evenings and weekends, she developed a system to allow herself to separate her work and personal lives and still achieve the things that she wanted to.

In 2009, her entrepreneurial friends convinced her to help them with the systems she had developed, as they were struggling with the time it took to run their businesses and the stress that this induced.

She has been in business for 8 years and seen some amazing successes.

“Time investment” instead of “time management”

Elizabeth sees time investment as the next level of time management.

Time management is about efficiency: How can we get more done in less time.

Whereas time investment is focused on effectiveness. So the primary question is: What are the most important things to get done, and how can we get the right things done to the best possible level?

It’s a mental shift where we step off a constant feeling of overwhelm with too much on your plate, to a sense of clarity on what really needs to get done. What is most important, how do we achieve that, and being OK with letting the rest go.

Why do we need to define our priorities to invest our time well?

The reason is that if you have defined your priorities, then it becomes your decision-making rubric that determines the most essential items to get done.

When you have defined and internally decided what is most important, then everything becomes clear.

It’s not about pleasing people, about getting things done, about inbox zero.

It’s about what is most important to you. So at the end of the day, if you know that you put your time into what truly matters to you, you can feel awesome. Regardless of whether you got everything done.

How to make priority-based decisions

Elizabeth has a very practical model that you can use to get this done. The step-by-step process that she recommends is as follows:

  1. Brainstorm – list out all of your priorities
    This can be on paper or electronically. Those priorities can include work, family, friends, health, social activities, sports. Whatever the important priorities in your life are.
  2. From left to right, put your priorities in sequential order of priority
    What is the most important thing for you to achieve? Note this down and then move down to the next most important and so on.
  3. It’s then important to plan out time enough to cover those upper-level priorities before moving on to investing time in the lower-level priorities.
    Ensuring you have enough time to cover the most important things in your life brings a higher level of balance to your day-to-day. Because often, the most important things to us, like family or spirituality, can get pushed out by work.

So when you are faced with a decision like whether to take on a new client, do a particular promotion, do a particular activity, you can look at your decision-making filter based on what is true for you and determine whether it will take time away from the higher-level priorities in your life.

To put these priorities into action, you need to convert them into actionable items that can go into your calendar.

An example:

Hypothetically, someone that is married with children might decide that family is a priority to them. One of the things they could do is decide that there are certain things throughout the week that are sacred to them and their family and so it will always go into the calendar.

That might look like that three nights a week, they will be home in time for dinner with the family. Or that Saturdays are work-free days – the laptop and work phone stay away which leaves dedicated family time.

Another example that is commonly left out:

Health and wellness is easy to overlook, so if it is important to somebody, it should go into the calendar. This can be as simple as a reminder in their calendar to go to bed at a certain time, to remind them not to switch off and ignore work calls or emails.

Or exercise: Translating this goal into items in your calendar like a 30 minute walk or a crossfit class can ensure that they don’t leave out this top priority in their life.

Exercise is a nebulas, easy-to-forget activity, so by consciously blocking out time in the calendar for them, you ensure they don’t get lost amongst the busyness of life.

Why is saying ‘no’ important to prioritising?

If we don’t say ‘no’ to the things that are not our top priorities, we will not be able to say ‘yes’ to the things those top priorities.

By not saying ‘no’, we are living a reactive life, not a proactive one. And when we live a reactive life we are living in alignment with other people’s priorities rather than our own.

It’s obviously not that we have to say ‘no’ to everything, but it’s important to be conscious of the effects saying ‘yes’ will have on our top list of priorities.

How do you say ‘no’?

One of the major things that Elizabeth has found to be an issue is that people that struggle with saying ‘no’ often fall within the ‘obliger’ category as described by Gretchen Rubin in her Four Tendencies. Obligers are people that want to make others happy – and they can often find it difficult to say ‘no’ to people for various reasons.

It’s important to remember that you’re not saying ‘no’ to the individual, you’re saying ‘no’ to the request.

Elizabeth recommends a list of scripts that gives excellent examples of how to politely and inoffensively saying ‘no’. You can get that list of scripts here or by texting ‘justsayno’ to 33-444 which will message you back with information on how to get access to these scripts as well as other tools and resources that Elizabeth has compiled.

Elizabeth’s book – The Three Secrets to Effective Time Investment

The book is available in print, e-book, or audio on Amazon.

Elizabeth’s website is: RealLifeE.com

Here’s the link to the resource on “How to Say, No, Nicely”: http://reallifee.com/wp/sayno2017