4 Ways to REALLY Make Time Work For You

I’ll bet you’ve got a number of started or almost-started projects that you’d love to do. Perhaps you dream of starting your own business, writing a novel, learning a foreign language, or taking a qualification. Or maybe you want to get the attic cleared out, organise your files, or repaint the hallway. It could even be that you know you need to take the time to exercise, meditate or journal … but you never get around to it.

The problem is, your life is already full, and you end up busy with all the day-to-day things, unable to find time for what you really want to do. Here are some ways to make the time that you need:

Use Your First Hour

How often have you told yourself that you’ll get to your big project or your novel or your spring cleaning once everything else is done?

And how often have you reached the end of the day, and had no energy? How often has something unexpected cropped up that steals away the time you were going to spend working towards your goal?

An easy solution is to take the first hour of your day and use it for what really matters to you. Everything else can wait for just one hour.

Use Your Diary

If you never seem to have a free day to clear the garage, or a weekend to get that small business launched, then pick up your diary. Look ahead a few weeks, and find a day or a couple of days that you can block out to work on something important to you.

Treat this time just as seriously as if you were going on vacation or to a seminar. If you’re asked to make social or voluntary commitments during it, explain that you’re busy.

You’ll find that your existing work and other activities flow around the time that you’ve blocked out, leaving you with the space to finally make progress on your project.

Use Your Friends

Sometimes, freeing up an hour of your day, or a couple of days in a month, just isn’t easy. Perhaps you have childcare responsibilities, a demanding job, or a lot of different commitments.

This is when friends and family can come in handy. Don’t be afraid to ask for the support that you need: many people will be genuinely glad to do you a favor. Ask a friend to babysit your kids while you write your business plan; let your spouse or housemate cook dinner while you head to the gym; get advice from a friend on how to move forwards with your plans.

Friends can also be a great source of encouragement. You could ask a friend to keep you accountable by checking up on your progress, whether that’s through a weekly phonecall or a quick daily check-in on Twitter. Sometimes, it’s easier to stay motivated when you know that someone else is cheering you on.

Use Your Willpower

Finally, in order to make time for the things which really matter to you, you’ll need to use your willpower.

You might hope that because you’re working on a project that’s important – whether it’s your novel or your small business or something self-nurturing – that you’ll always feel motivated. Chances are, though, that there’ll be times when you’re tired, or when you have to work through something difficult or dull in order to get to the next steps.

At those times, you’ll want to answer your emails, or watch television, or sleep in.

This is when using your willpower matters. Don’t say that you “have no willpower” – we all do. The more you exercise some self-discipline, the easier it becomes; plus, there are ways to increase your willpower. Sometimes, you’ll need to force yourself to make time for your project even when you don’t feel like it – because you know that making steady progress is going to be a great feeling.

How do you make time for the things you really want to do? What important projects have you stalled on? How can you get going again?

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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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