“Finding the time” to do something is really about managing (or choosing how to spend) your time. There are hundreds of books on “time management” — some worth reading — but they can probably all be boiled down to a few key principles.
The first — and most important — is this:
If you want to get something done, you need to make it a priority.
You see, I often hear people say they’d like to start a business, or write a book, or go to the gym… “if only I could find the time.”
Now I know people are busy, but the truth is — if something’s important, you’ll always find the time.
So how important is your business, or writing, or health, or whatever it is, to you? How important is it to your career, to the career you want, to your well-being, to your enjoyment of life?
And how important is it compared to all the other things you spend your time doing (especially time-munchers like TV, computer games and dare I say, surfing the Internet)?
If you can establish that it’s extremely important, then you’re more than halfway there in terms of finding the time to actually do it.
I’d say you were totally there, except for the challenge of competing priorities and the curve-balls life sometimes throws you… All of which you can handle, with the strategies and techniques I’ll share below.
So the first — and most important — step towards finding the time for your creative pursuit is to make it a priority.
But that’s not all there is to it, is there? I mean, you’ve got other priorities, right? And sometimes, things — like life — just get in the way.
So how do you start a business, write, get to the gym, etc despite these “obstacles”?
Let’s start with competing priorities. If this is a problem for you, I suggest spending 15 minutes or so writing out everything you do in a week (and make this a no.1 priority!). I mean everything — including brushing your teeth, putting out the garbage and sleeping, etc. Then write down how much time you spend on each. For example, sleeping — 53 hours per week. Now, put a 1, 2 or 3 next to each item to indicate its level of importance:
1 — Critical (anything that’s essential to your health and well-being e.g. eating, sleeping, brushing your teeth, exercising, connecting with loved ones, etc);
2 — Important (anything that’s important for your long-term happiness and self-esteem e.g. earning money, reading, listening to music, etc);
3 — Everything else
Now, you’ll note that some things are a 1 or a 2 up to a point, after which they become a 3. For example, eating is a 1 because it’s critical to living… but devouring that second piece of chocolate cake is probably a 3. Same with TV -
relaxing in front of the box a few hours a week could be a 2… but anything more is maybe a 3.
Okay, so this is pretty simplistic… And maybe you didn’t need to go through this exercise to realize that some of the hours you spend watching “junk TV” or ironing your bed linen could be better spent! Whatever the case, the aim is to enable you to see how you spend your time now… and how to better allocate it to make time for your business, writing, fitness or other endeavor. How? By getting rid of all the 3s and replacing them with 1s or 2s! And I’d bet your business or book is a 2, right? And surely your health is 1?
Wow — I bet you just found yourself a few extra hours per week, right? Now all you need to do is to set aside those extra hours and devote them to your business, writing, gym or other important pursuit. And don’t let anyone or anything interfere with this schedule!
Okay… but what happens if a crisis occurs?
It’s simple. You respond to the crisis! After all, it’s a crisis, right?
Whether it’s a natural or man-made disaster, a family tragedy, an illness, or anything else that requires your immediate attention, don’t beat yourself up because you can’t keep to your original schedule.
Give the crisis the attention it deserves.
When it passes (whether it’s a matter of days, weeks or months) and you’re physically, emotionally and mentally able to resume “normal activities” then it’s time to get back on track.
Other than dealing with crises, there’s no reason why you can’t allocate time to the things you want to accomplish.
Anna Johnson is the creator of the inspiring 1 minute movie, A Bit Of Inspiration. Enjoy the movie and get inspired! Then claim your free A Bit Of Inspiration screensaver – your daily reminder of the power you have within.