What would you do if you had all the time in the world?
Everyone knows that time is a limited resource. Yet we spend so much of our time on things we should do instead of things we want to do. We prioritize tasks, chores, and other people’s demands, while we put our dream goals and favorite hobbies on hold.
We all have the same hours in a day. So how do we find the time for things we really want to do?
Luckily, there’s more than one solution to help you find more hours in the day.
Below are time management tips and tricks you can use to help you meet your professional and personal responsibilities while also making time for what it is you truly want to do.
What do you want to spend your time on?
Because we’re so short on time, we feel obligated to make every second count and cram a million things into one day.
But one way to make your time feel less hectic and more fulfilling is to try to focus on doing less instead of more.
So let’s say you would love to find time for reading more books, cooking new recipes, going on long bike rides, and visiting museums. Don’t attempt to do all those activities in one day. Spread them out over the course of a week or a month.
When you narrow your focus you will harness your attention much more fully. Your time will feel that much more expansive because you’ll be immersing yourself in this one rich activity insteading of spreading yourself so thin.
Many people don’t like choosing one thing to focus on because it gives them a sense of “buyer’s remorse.” What if I choose to go to the museum and end up having a bad time?
It’s easy to fall into this type of thinking, especially when your time is scarce. But you’ll feel less time scarcity when you create more free time for yourself during the week.
Find your motivation
Motivation is the inner fire that keeps you focused on your dreams and goals. It doesn't matter if you’re exhausted or in a bad mood, your motivation will help you find a way to do what matters to you.
To find your motivation, ask yourself: Why do I want to do this?
Maybe you want to work on a big creative goal. Your motivation is that you want to find a way to express yourself and uplift others through your art.
Maybe you want to strike out on your own and start your own business. Your motivation is that you want to help improve people’s lives with your business.
Maybe you want to read more books. Your motivation is that reading transports you to other worlds and comforts you during challenging times.
When you pinpoint your motivation, you will gain clarity on why this is important to you and why you want to make this your priority.
Take a look at the big picture of your time
If you want to better manage your time, then it helps to take a look at the big picture.
It’s easy to get lost in the small, trivial matters of your days. But identifying the seasons of your time will help you plan and schedule better for the long and short term.
For this exercise, break out your planner or calendar. Identify the weeks and months that tend to be busy for you.
- Monthly view: You might find that November and December are busy months because of the holiday season. Or maybe September is busy because of back-to-school.
- Weekly view: What days and weeks are you busiest? Mondays are crazy because you’re getting the kids ready for school or preparing for a Monday team meeting.
Now, take a look at the months and weeks that tend to be less busy for you.
- Monthly view: Maybe the summer months are quiet both at home and at work.
- Weekly view: Thursdays and Fridays are slow at work and the weekends are quiet at home.
Take a look at the micro view of your time
Let’s do this exercise again but this time zooming in on your days and hours.
- What days of the week are busiest? What parts of the day are chaotic? For example, Monday mornings are a headache because you’re getting the kids ready for school, walking the dog, and preparing for a weekly team meeting.
- What parts of the day are you generally free? Don’t just look for big chunks of time. Look for the tiny slivers of time or the bookends of time before and after events. Those little chunks of time will come in handy too.
This big and small picture exercise helps you take an honest look at your time. Maybe you have more time than you had initially realized. Or maybe you’re being too hard on yourself and trying to achieve too much in a limited timeframe.
It also helps to know the pattern of your months and weeks, and know which parts of the year are chaotic and which give you more breathing room. For example, if the winter months are busy, you would avoid scheduling your creative projects around then. But if your summer months are quiet then you would set firmer boundaries around personal and professional obligations and make more time for creative pursuits and hobbies.
What are things you can swap out?
If what you truly want to do is make art but you’re spending all your free time on watching TV, then you know that something has to give.
So take a look at your schedule. What are things you can swap out or delegate?
Example: You walk the dog every morning. Can you ask a partner or family member to walk the dog on designated days? Can you hire a dog walker for at least one or two mornings a week? This will open up your day to do something you truly want to do.
Think in 15 minute, 30 minute, and 1 hour increments
There are going to be days when you have loads of free time and days when you only have a few minutes to spare.
To help you take advantage of your free time, you’ll want to think about your project and figure out how to do it in short and long-term increments.
For example, if you want to find more time to exercise, you can break it down this way:
- If you have 15 minutes: Do a quick walk around the neighborhood
- If you have 30 minutes: Do an online HIIT workout
- If you have 1 hour: Go for a run in the park
By being more mindful about how you spend your time, you just might find that time isn’t limited, but quite elastic.
Written by JiJi Lee