(and helping those who want more time for theirs)
For everybody who has kids, busy lives, jobs with long hours, long commutes, and no time, I feel you. This post is all about doing something you always wanted to do, but don’t think you have time for.
I feel like I have almost no time. That’s not really true, but it sure feels that way. I’m not writing as much as usual, reading or doing art as much either. That’s because my new job is taking more time and energy and I want to get my new career off to a good start. Yet, time slips by as it will and I re-prioritize.
Now, with all that said, why is it that I’m buying an electric guitar so I can learn to play it? Because I want to. I really, really want to. Hearing live guitar just gives me a thrill that little compares to, and it’s high time I do something about this interest.
But I have that little time problem. Here’s what I’ve done, maybe it will help you.
Steps to making more time in your life
Tally up all the ways you spend your time. Recreation, work, eating, commuting, resting, etc. You don’t have to write this down, but maybe think it over during a commute, a morning shower, or a quiet meal.
Prioritize your activities. Start with the non-negotiables and work your way down. Don’t forget sleep and exercise. Often, those are sacrificed for other things that really aren’t as important.
Reduce what’s least important. Recreation is important. Even so, maybe those two hours of TV could be reduced to one, or maybe there’s a website that is a total time-suck that could be eliminated. Knowing yourself and your behaviors will really help here. Remember, you aren’t really giving things up, you’re making room so you can enrich your life.
What you can’t reduce, combine. Deep knee bends when brushing your teeth. Meditation when falling asleep. Reading books or drawing during lunch breaks. Listening to music in the shower. You could label everything in the house in a foreign language, so you practice as you go about your routine. Get crazy with it!
What you can’t reduce or eliminate, make more efficient. For example, if you spend twenty minutes going out to get lunch at work, spend an hour on the weekend packing up five lunches for yourself. That way you can grab and go, and use that lunch period to do something else. It saves money, too, and the lunches might be better for you. Or lay out your clothes before bed so you don’t have to fumble in the morning. Little things can really add up.
Staying a little more organized (having a place to put everything) has saved me a whole lot of time – I don’t waste it trying to find stuff.
Now that you’ve eked out a bit more time, figure out what you really want to do more of. Then break it down into bite sized pieces. If you’re learning a language, try for a word at a time. If you’re reading a book, you could read a few pages here and there. If writing, it’s a little harder but similar. If you want to exercise, you could design mini work outs.
Finally, put it all together. Fit your bits of progress in wherever you can – work out when watching TV, read audio books when driving, write during breakfast, or whatever works for you. You can definitely find time to do things, but it takes drive and creativity! The great feelings of accomplishment are more than worth the effort, and you’ll feel more fulfilled as a person. As a bonus, lifelong learning helps keep the brain healthy and staves off depression.
My own example
I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t have the same problem! I have a full time job, a half hour commute, time with the spouse, time doing housework, taking care of the ever demanding cat, shopping, doing errands, and internet time.
Some things are non negotiable, like work, sleeping, spouse, eating, errands, commute. But I realized I could cut the net time down a bit. I’ve wanted to learn to play guitar for a really long time, it’s on my “bucket list,” and I want to get to it while my fingers are still limber. Besides, I found a beginner’s guitar kit for under a hundred bucks, which is way less than I thought I’d find one for. So I can cut back online gaming by a half hour and slide the guitar right in that spot. I can also use odd moments to watch YouTube lessons and read up on music theory. I can do this without sacrificing (much) on blogging and the other things I need to do. Mine is a simple case because I don’t have kids, but this system will work for almost anyone. Still, I already feel more at peace because I know I’m doing one more thing I always wanted to try, instead of waiting till the right time comes.
Instead of waiting for the right time, I’m making the right time.