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.