Admit it: you have a project you want to work on. Whether it be renovating the bathroom, starting a personal blog, or just exercising more, there’s something you wish you were doing. You tell yourself that your days are too full. You’d love to pick up a project, but you don’t have the time.
The truth is, most of us can make time, if we’re willing to scrutinize our days. This time doesn’t even need to be taken out of your sleep schedule, your work day, or even your pleasure time. Consider the following options:
Make a schedule and stick to it
Why do we have time to go to work, drop the kids off at school, and catch our favorite TV shows? Because we schedule them into our lives. You can do the same for your project. Decide a time upfront to devote to your project. It can be a daily schedule ( from 8 pm to 9 pm), a weekly thing (four hours every Saturday), or even a conditional schedule (after finishing a work deadline). Just remember – no exceptions once you set a time. Imagine what your boss would say if you didn’t come to work when you were scheduled. Have that kind of mindset when planning your time.
Create communication free time periods
Our friends and family access us through a wired world. Phone calls, email, text messages, IM, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other communication methods make it difficult for us to create time just for ourselves. What’s worse, all this noise is available to us everywhere our cell phones. Do yourself a favor and create a “communication free” time period in your day. You’ll be amazed how much time you’ll have for other things when you aren’t being distracted by digital obligations.
Cut back on your “time waster” activity
We all have activities we use to kill time. Whether it be obsessive Facebook checking, late night spider solitaire, or reruns of 80s sitcoms, we all take part in frivolous time-wasting activities. If you look over the course of a week, your time-wasting activities can eat up a lot of hours. While we all need a few mental breaks, make it a goal to cut back on time-wasters and dedicate that time to something more productive instead.
Use small breaks to research and learn
During the day, we have short 5 to 20 minute breaks, such as a bus ride home. It’s often not feasible to use that time to commit to a project, but you can use it as research time. Get on the Internet and learn about your project. Read about other people engaged in the same activity. You’ll not only learn about your project, it will motivate you to do it when you have free time.
Join a group dedicated to your project
If all attempts at self-discipline fail, try using peer pressure to get motivated. Joining a group committed to your goals will keep you on track, especially if the group scrutinizes your progress. This is why people take exercise classes and attend writing groups – they force you to make time in your day or fall behind everyone else’s progress.
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Still don’t have time for a project? If you’re satisfied that your time’s well spent, then don’t worry about not sneaking in an extra project or two. If not, however, look over the things that take up your time. Are you stretched too thin? Can you change the priorities in your life to make room? When you analyze your days, you may surprise yourself how much time you devote to things you don’t really need to do.
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25 thoughts on “Creating More Time”
How true about ‘time wasting’ activities eating up lots of our time. That Spider Solitaire really must go! These ‘mind numbing’ activities can be useful for mental breaks but it’s so easy to over-indulge… and then that project that got neglected becomes that much more daunting to tackle.
One of the most useful techniques I learned for dealing with procrastination is from Mark Foster (How To Get Everthing Done & Still Have Time To Play): breaking the task into the smallest units – e.g. 1. Walk to desk 2. Turn on computer 3. Open file 4. Type two lines ……. This way, we’re less likely to run into resistance and get more accomplished.
Thanks, Deborah; I enjoyed this post.
Thanks for the tip on Mark Foster. I’ll check it out!
Simple & Great! Deborah, thank you for the article.
I myself have this long list of things that I wish to do, places I have visit, however I mostly keep using my job, career as an excuse and miss on so many good things in life!
The blog mentions really simple changes that can made in our lives.
I feel totally motivated to give up on not-so-required-things that suck up my time!
Good luck on finding time for non-work related things. I’ve creating some “end of the day” time for me that really allows me to pursue a few hobbies I dropped off at the beginning of my career. It’s been very rewarding.
I loved the topic.
In the modern world, where everyone wants to be always “Connected” , one will not realize how much time is getting wasted in online social activities that consume time but doesn’t really produce any self satisfying results. I think one shouldn’t be necessarily always connected.
I am referring here the ‘over” using social networking sites.
One can also create time by eliminating /reducing distractions that are affecting his current work and increase the productivity.
Thanks for the post.
I have definitely had a problem with over using Facebook and other social networks. It’s good to catch up, but you need to have boundaries so it doesn’t suck up all your time.
Great ideas for creating more time. I find that for me I need to make sure that I am well rested because when I am tired I tend to lose focus and get off track.
Definitely make sure you’re getting rest! I’m a zombie and don’t enjoy anything if I sacrifice sleep for added time.
When I work more efficiently and quicker hoping to have some more time for workout or reading, then this time is needed for something else. My wish would be to stretch time. The day could be double or three times longer.
You can fall into the trap of using the time for something else you didn’t intend. There’s where the discipline has to come in. Decide that you’re going to schedule time in for what you want, the way you’d schedule your job or anything else important. Otherwise, you might never get to do what you want.
This is so true! I’m always telling myself to get up and do something different, but I’m always finding myself being too lazy. I need to change that! Thanks for a great and inspiring post!
Sounds great, Danielle. Good luck on finding more time. :)
This is a great article for me. I can always use tips on creating more time. What I have found is that I need to stop doing the things that aren’t getting me anywhere. It is a viscous cycle. I spend time doing things that don’t work and because they don’t work, I spend more time doing them. Slowly I am breaking this cycle and focusing my attention on what does work and eliminating procrastination. I just started listening to this audio/video course on creating more time and they talked about tracking how your time is spent. I have also seen this technique with those who are trying to eat better. I am really interested in doing this so that I can see where my time is going.
Making a “time journal” can be very useful in finding ways to better manage your days. I’ve done it before and couldn’t believe how long I would take doing routine things. Good luck with your experiment!
Writing out a prioritized list of activities and projects really helps to clear out the less important ideas and structures time to get it done. It’s helpful to set a timer when wasting time on Facebook (or other equally addictive behaviors) to limit the damage.
I agree. Prioritization is a huge step towards any form of time management.
The biggest change for me was a mental one. Reading back over an old journal I realised I complained every day about being tired and not having enough time. I stopped complaining about being tired. Then started to think about not having any time. I came to understand that I had time but sometimes I didn’t have enough physical or mental or emotional energy to use that time well. Being honest and calling it like it is changed everything.
It’s true that if you 1) aren’t honest with yourself and/or 2) complain simply to do so (and not with the intent to change), you’re not going to alter your lifestyle in any way. Sounds like you’ve tackled this very important step. :)
i find also, focusing on one thing at a time creates time, because then we are not running around stressed trying to do too many things at once. rather, the time used being stressed can be used productively to complete another task :)
I know people who multi-task, but I am certainly not effective at it. When I devote myself to one thing at a time, as you’ve suggested, I’ve been able to do a lot more things.
I am always on the hunt for more time! Facebook is the big time waster that I struggle with. Lately, I have been trying to keep track of everything I do and see where all my time is wasted. I am going to try the communication free time period every day. Thanks for the tip!
I’ve found the communication free time period very useful to me, so let me know if it works for you too!
You know, it’s advice I’d give time and time again but:
I find the best way to create more time to work on any project is to simply bite off more than you think you can handle. I mean, simply choose a project you’d like to begin working on, and force yourself to do it.
It doesn’t take long for the timewaster activities to simply fall by the wayside to allow you to work on the projects you’ve wanted to do but have put aside.
Also: just wanted to note the coincidence, I have recently posted on a similar subject on my blog and chose the exact same image. Something about it is just fantastic and interesting.
Biting off more than you can chew can work for people with certain personalities. I’ve done this myself successfully before.
However, it can also backfire. You might go full force at the beginning, but if the project seems too huge, you might get up.
Still, if you haven’t tried this before, it’s certainly worth a shot to see if it helps focus your attention.