Not having enough time has to be one of the most used excuses for not working toward our goals. I want to show you how you can find time in your schedule to work toward your goals. Before you start carving out time for your goals, I think it is important to know what the goal is that you will be working towards. The goal should be specific. “I want to go back to school” is not a specific goal. “I will finish my degree by summer of 2021. I will do this by taking two classes each semester” is a specific goal that you can work on. Now that you have the specific goal, let’s find out how much time you need each week to achieve your goal. Using the “finishing my degree goal,” you will need to find the time to take the classes and also time that you can use to write papers and study. When you are already feeling overwhelmed by life, adding time to work on a goal can seem like a really bad joke. Know this…you CAN find the time in your schedule. Not every tip is going to work for you, but I cannot imagine a situation where none of these tips will work to find you the time you need, so go for it!
Wake Up an Hour Earlier
Waking up an hour early is especially helpful when you have young children. It is precious time you know you will not be interrupted. Even if you do not have small children, waking up an hour early is a great way to find free time. If you wake up early on three mornings during the week, you just gained three hours. Let me say, once you get a taste for this extra “you time,” you may decide to wake up early every morning! I find once I am actually up and awake, my most productive time of day is early morning.
I am a huge fan of sleep. It is so important for your physical and mental health. There have been times in my life when waking up an hour earlier would not have worked for me. Not that long ago I was commuting to a job that was an hour and a half to two hours away. I had to be up by 4:30 am so I could leave the house no later than 5:30 am. There is no way I could have convinced my already weary self to get up at 3:30 am. I also know this would not have worked for me when I was a new mom. Until your baby is on a reasonable sleep schedule, I would pass on this option and get your sleep while you can!
Take Control of Your Calendar
You need time to work on your goal, so schedule it. You are the one that is in control of your calendar. By putting in an appointment to work on your goals in your calendar, you are making a promise to yourself that this is your time. If you have committed to training for your first 5K, schedule your run times. If you tell yourself, “Well, I will try to run in the evening after work” you are much less likely to stand firm on your commitment. If you schedule your run from 5:30 pm to 6:15 pm, know that nothing else happens during that time. Those times should be looked at as non-negotiable. That time is spoken for.
Just Say No
This ties into taking control of your calendar and it is a tough one for me. I hate saying no and I hate letting people down. I am learning that you can say no to people and still be a nice person. Often times we bog our schedules down with obligations we have committed to. When asked to commit YOUR time to something, think about the time it is taking away from your goals. I realize there are obligations you feel you need to fulfill, but do you have to spend Saturday afternoon at your third cousin’s daughter’s 6th birthday party? Could you wish her a happy birthday over the phone and send her a card? If you have scheduled your run for that time, let your third cousin know right away that you have an appointment on Saturday afternoon so you will not be able to make it. If you normally do laundry on Saturday afternoon and you know skipping this task will make life hell this week, don’t go.
When your office schedules a potluck and you are already stretched so thin, sign up for the drinks or the plates. Make it easy on yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have signed up for a main dish in a potluck during a very stressful time in my life and ended up so mad at myself. Sure, there are times when I know I will have the time to make a delicious dish to pass and I will gladly sign up for it, but if life is hectic, I am going for something pre-made or incredibly easy. Another option is to opt out of the potluck all together.
Cut Out the Time Wasters
Ask yourself, “what is the biggest time waster I engage in?” For me, its online window shopping. It starts the same way almost every time. I see that Banana Republic or another favorite store is having an amazing sale so I click on their site. I go through all the pages of clothes and put everything I want (not need) in my cart. I laugh when I see the total. Then I think to myself, I really want a pair of wedges for the summer. I start searching my favorite sites, knowing full well I am not going to buy anything. This can eat up hours of my day! When I find myself online window shopping, I will allow myself a set amount of time…15 or 20 minutes, then I am done. I do think you still need to have a little bit of zone out time, you just don’t need hours and hours of it. Maybe Facebook or Instagram is your time waster. Set a time limit on those sites if you know you are going to get sucked in. The iPhone has a way you can track how much time you are on these apps each week. I have not brought myself to turn that feature on quite yet. I know I would be horrified at how much screen time I use. Maybe your time waster is television. If you are not watching a specific show or movie and just channel surfing, turn the television off. If you are trying to catch up on Game of Thrones on HBO Now like I am, limit yourself to one episode a night. You do not need to binge watch the whole third season on one Saturday….really Hope, you don’t!
If you need an hour of uninterrupted time so you can get your word count in on that book you have committed to writing, ask your husband or your sister to watch the kids. You can certainly repay the favor. Maybe having a housekeeper come in to vacuum and clean the bathrooms would free up some time. I sometimes order my groceries online and have them bring the bags out to the car for me. Even better, I signed up for one of those subscription meal boxes. I just had the ingredients all measured out for three meals delivered in a box with instructions on how to make it delivered right to my door. That saved me time on meal planning, a trip to the grocery store, and some of the meal prepping. Plus, they are typically healthier options than pizza or fast food and they taste so good!
It is so important to be working towards your goals. It makes you feel good about yourself and it betters your life. Stop putting it off. Find the time to work on yourself every week. Start putting yourself first once in a while. Before you know it you will be living your best life.