Recently I asked readers what questions they’d like me to answer. Today it’s about finding time.
Beside school, homework, a few school competitions and, of course, my family and household stuff I also have 3 big passions: reading (learning new things), writing and dancing. I struggle with managing to give the necessary amount of time and attention to all of them, especially my hobbies. They’re all very important to me and I was thinking about 2018 as an opportunity to start a new way of life. My goals are set, I want to improve myself and what seems to be missing is time. What piece of advice would you give me?
The simple answer to this question is you have to schedule what is important to you. If you don’t schedule it, you will never consistently find the time for it.
What most people do when they want to find time for a new hobby, exercise, learn something new, or start a project is do it whenever they have the time.
The problem is that we can easily fill our day with things to do. We feel busy all day long, but if we really see what we’ve done, we can see that we’re spending a lot of time on unimportant things.
You might feel busy because you’re doing something, but you’re not getting much done each day. At least certainly not doing the things that make you happy and are important to you like reading, writing and dancing.
We make time for what is most important to us and we often don’t realize that we do.
I used to have shows that I loved to watch every week. I could have recorded them and watched it at a later time, but I wanted to watch it live cause I couldn’t wait.
If I knew the show was coming on at Thursday at 8pm, I would schedule everything else around it. I would make sure I was done with dinner. If anyone called me, I wouldn’t answer it. I wouldn’t be texting on my phone, or on my computer during this time.
I was focused on only the show for the next hour.
It was that important to me and therefore I scheduled whole week and that day to be sure I was home to watch my favorite show.
But when it comes to exercise, hobbies, personal development, or starting a business that we hope can turn into a full time business, we don’t give it this type of VIP treatment.
We treat it as an after thought even though we keep thinking about wanting to do it. Instead we place a higher priority on social media, TV, and mindlessly using the computer.
If something is important to us, we have to make time for it. Don’t just try to think about when we’ll do it each day. If we do, we’ll always find excuses to not do it or find something else to do instead.
Think about your day and what you do. I bet there are ways for you to find extra time. I know you want to spend time with family, but you could also find a balance between spending time on your hobbies and also with family.
A lot of people say they don’t have time during the day, but the average person spends 4 hours a day on their phone. They spend almost 2 hours a day on the top social media platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.
4 hours a day our phone is a lot. Makes me not surprised people say they feel busy all day and don’t have time to do something.
Do we need to spend 4 hours a day on our phone and 2 hours a day on social media? No we don’t, but it’s easy to with endless content and and always updating newsfeed every time they check Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
Imagine if you cut even just half of that time. You would free up so much time in your day to do what’s important to you.
You’re not going to miss out on anything important if you spent less time on your phone and on social media. You’ll then have more time for personal activities.
In 2018, I have spent less time using my phone and on social media especially in the mornings.
I used to wake up and then immediately get on Facebook, check my e-mail and read the news. That’s how I’d spend the first hour of my day. This is what most people do. The last thing they see before sleeping is their phone. The first thing they do is check their phone.
By checking social media and e-mail, I immediately shift my attention to what everyone else is doing in their life.
How does that help me? How does that improve me? It doesn’t at all. All it does is waste my time and attention on something that I can do later in the day.
It can wait.
(For anyone reading this, try that out. Don’t check social media or e-mail for at least the first hour in the morning and I guarantee if you do this you’ll feel much better each day.)
My e-mails are from companies telling me to see what they’re selling. It’s from newsletters that want me to read their new article. It also has problems that need my attention.
Dealing with other people’s problems is not how I want to be starting my day.
I got lazy with my mornings in 2017 so to start 2018, I wanted to improve my morning routine.
Now I don’t check social media, e-mail or read the news for at least the first hour after I wake up. Sometimes it’ll be two hours before I even open Facebook.
Did I miss out on anything by waiting two hours? Nope. Did I feel better by using the time for myself instead? 100% yes.
I like to use the morning as the time to improve myself. I’m protective about this time and this is why I choose to wake up earlier. This is not time to start texting friends or read whatever messages are waiting for me on Facebook messenger.
I like to use this time to do what’s important to do and focus on personal development. It’s a great way to start the day because I’m in control during that time.
I enjoy reading but I know if I didn’t decide each day when I would do reading, I wouldn’t do it. I prefer reading in the morning as part of my morning routine. I like to do that because it’s when I know I can get uninterrupted quiet time in the first hour of the morning before my wife is awake and before I start my day.
I would suggest doing your writing and reading as part of your morning routine. That might require you to wake up earlier but you’ll feel much better the rest of the day when you start your day doing what you want.
If it’s important to you, you have to make time for it.
Another reason the morning is best is because that’s when we’re the most creative and focused. We have more mental energy. It’s much harder to focus and be creative after a long day of school or work.
As for dancing, you also need to figure out when in your day you will do it. Schedule it as part of your day just like you have a schedule for classes at school. You may not be able to do it every day but if you dance a few times a week, I think you’ll still find enjoyment from that.
So you have to make the time for what is important to you. If you can do it the same time each day it’s better because you don’t have to think about when you’ll do it.
I don’t have to think when I’ll read. I know I read after I get a glass of hot water with a squeeze of lemon, go to my office, and write three things I’m thankful for and three positive moments from the past 24 hours.
You can’t just try to squeeze your hobbies into day. That’s what people normally do but they feel like they never have any free time. I bet if you analyzed your day you’ll be able to find ways to make more free time. There’s a lot you do in the day that can eliminated or reduced like time on your phone, social media or watching TV.
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Some people seem like they’re able to achieve so much in the same amount of time. It’s because they prioritize and do what’s most important to them. They say no to what they don’t have time for.
Saying no is just as important. You can’t do it all if you always say yes. Sometimes you have to say no to invitations to just hang out with friends, or no to school activities, or no to weekend plans.
I get e-mails asking for time to talk on Skype. I hate being the bad guy but I have to say no. The time I have during my day to focus on work is important. I can only do so much and therefore have to decline those conversations.
Then after work, I focus my time with my wife and seeing my nieces whenever I can. That is important to me.
I also have to say no to projects that I want to work on because I have to prioritize what’s most important right now. I don’t have the time or mental energy to do everything I want to do. I would spread myself too thin.
So determine where you want to focus your attention and then also determine the amount of time you will spend on each. Setting a time limit is important. For you it could be 30 minutes each day for reading and 30 minutes for writing. When you dance, you will do it for 1 hour.
If dancing reading, writing and dancing are important, you have to show how important they are to you by scheduling it into your week and day.
Otherwise they are just dreams that float around in your mind forever waiting for the right time to start when you have more free time.