time management

9 Powerful Ways to Find Enough Time for Your Goals

Wouldn’t it be great to have more time? With a few extra hours a week, you could finally accomplish those goals that have been on your list for so long … but your life just seems to get busier and busier.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can find time to reach your goals – in fact, you already have enough time, you just might not realize it.

Here are nine powerful ways to find more time, starting now:

#1: Track Your Time for Several Days

Where does your time really go? If you’re not sure, then keep track of your time for a few days. Record what you’re doing in 15 minute intervals. You may want to focus particularly on trouble-spots: times of day when you tend to procrastinate.

Look for any time sinks – tasks or activities that are taking up a lot more time than you thought. Can you cut down the amount of time you spend on these – or cut them out of your day altogether?

#2: Break Your Goal into Little Chunks

If you have a huge goal like “run a marathon” or “write a book”, you’re obviously not going to accomplish it overnight: it’s going to take months or even years of effort. Big goals can be daunting – but by breaking them into little chunks, you make it much easier to get started and to keep going.

Spend a few minutes writing down the next five small steps that you need to take to move towards your goal. These might be steps like “find a good training plan” or “buy new trainers” or “go for a 15-minute jog today” if you want to run a marathon next year.

#3: Realize That Even 10 Minutes is Enough

It’s often easy to put off working on a goal because you don’t have enough time. Sure, you might have 10 minutes to spare – but you think you need a whole hour or two. Even 10 minutes, though, is enough to make some progress towards your goal.

Find little tasks that you can fit into 10 minutes … you’ll be surprised how much they’ll add up over a week or a month! If you’re working on a book, you could spend 10 minutes brainstorming topics, adding to your plan, or even writing a new paragraph of the content.

#4: Block Out a Whole Afternoon or Weekend for Your Goal

Of course, it’s not easy to accomplish your whole goal in daily 10-minute increments: if you want to run a marathon, for instance, you’ll need to train for longer than 10 minutes at a time. This is when a diary or calendar becomes a vital tool to help you towards your goal.

Look ahead a few weeks, and see whether you can block out a whole Saturday afternoon – or even a whole weekend – to spend on your goal. Mark that time now in your diary or calendar, and don’t let any social events or chores creep into that space.

#5: Get Help from Others

You don’t have to pursue your goal all on your own. Even if you don’t know anyone who can help you in a direct way, with advice or even useful equipment (perhaps none of your friends have never pursued a similar goal), you can get people to help you free up some time.

If you have kids, for instance, how about swapping childcare with a friend? That way, you could have a few extra hours each week to focus on your goal.

#6: Use Your Lunch Break

If you’re in the habit of grabbing lunch at your desk, start using your lunch break to work on your goal. You might not be able to spend the whole hour – but you could at least take 30 minutes to go for a brisk walk, or to do a little extra work on your book.

Don’t feel guilty about taking a proper break, either (even if your colleagues don’t tend to). As well as feeling good about making progress toward your goal, you’ll get a much-needed rest from your work – leaving you more able to focus on your work during the afternoon.

#7: Use Your Commute

If you normally drive to work, how about listening to an audio book on your journey? Pick something that ties in with your goal (e.g. you might choose a book about writing, or a motivational one to help you stay on track).

If your goal relates to exercise, can you walk, jog, or cycle to work? This obviously isn’t practical for everyone – but even if you have a long journey, you could get off the train (or park your car) further from the office and walk the rest of the way.

#8: Set Your Alarm 20 Minutes Early

By getting up just a little earlier, you can make time for your goal before all the busyness of the day has begun. That might mean 20 minutes of exercising or writing, perhaps before the rest of your family is awake.

If you’re worried about being too tired, try going to bed earlier. Most of us don’t accomplish anything much in the 20 minutes before bed – whereas when we’re refreshed in the morning, we can get a surprising amount done.

#9: Get Better at Saying “No”

One big reason why most of us don’t have enough time for our goals is because we say “yes” too often. We take on commitments that aren’t a good fit for our true aims and dreams. If this sounds like you, then get better at saying “no”.

For help on this, take a look at Why You Need to Say “No” More Often (And How to Do Just That).

Photo credit: ‘Time’ by Big Stock

 

Which of the above tips will you try this week? Or do you have a tenth to add to the list? Let us know in the comments…

 

  • http://twitter.com/_Mark_Hill_ Mark Hill

    Love it. I am looking at taking a vacation just to work on my startup ideas. 

  • http://www.inspiredgiftgiving.com/ Marquita Herald

    Great advice. Chunking down projects is really helpful, but for me it’s all about focusing on priorities. I’m a Type A personality so I have a tendency to create massive ‘to-do’ lists because I want to be in 3 places at once and just do everything, so I have to constantly reign myself back in and focus on what’s going to actually help me make progress. At the end of every day I look at my list for the next day and scruitinze each item, asking myself if it will make a difference to my end goal – if not, or if it’s busy – clear the clutter work – it goes to the bottom of the pile to be dealt with when, and only when I get my ‘Big Rock’ tasks done.

  • http://www.rpsmiles.com/ Del Mar Dentist

    Wonderful advices. We should always have a time to think through and reach our goals. Do you have any advices on how to say No? It’s one of my problems.

  • http://blog.changeanything.com/ Robert Bodily

    I can relate to almost every single idea you came up with.  Thanks!  I am an ambitious person and I love to do cool, awesome, and incredible things, but a lot of times it takes more planning and preparing than I am used to.  If I used my time more effectively, planned out my days, and said “No” to activities that didn’t point me in the direction that I want to go I could be much farther along in achieving my goals.  I’m going to start going to bed earlier too, starting tonight.

  • http://www.omswami.com/ Navjot Gautam

    A perfect set of advice….i have been unning all week long … m on it!

  • Joanne Tombrakos

    All good stuff! I employ an egg timer. The old fashioned analog kind so I can block out all other extraneous diversions. More on how I use that can be found in my book, It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life.
    http://www.amazon.com/Takes-Timer-Guide-Creating-ebook/dp/B0082WW11E/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

  • Gvramana77

    Amazing, will start reading and writing for at least 30 mins from today and I am sure it will help me achieving my goals. Thanks for the very good writeup

  • http://www.leadershiplime.com/ James

    Interesting article. There are some helpful suggestions there to improve your time and looking to fit more in. I’m very much into this kind of thing as i think of good productivity and how to achieve more im the time I have.

    I wonder though if sometimes we try to just clutter our lives up with more than we really need to do? Maybe we get so consumed by productivity and time management that we make everything more than it needs to be? I know for a fact that i’m really busy in life juggling a business, a couple of jobs and various other social interests but I know that I do too much. I sometimes value just taking the bus to work and do nothing or make sure that i’m actually allocating time to relaxing and being non-productive to keep myself sane and not burn out.

    There’s some great tips there though! Especially for people who struggle to be focused and accomplish what they need to!

  • http://glynisj.com/ Glynis Jolly

    For the longest time, I’ve been trying to achieve one goal. Yet I am being thrown back to the beginning time and time again. The suggestion of 10 minutes is something I haven’t thought about think I need a whole 2 hours every time. Anyway, I’m going to try it. 

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