Every day it seems there is so much that we want to accomplish. Whether is is work related or family activities, there’s plenty on our to do list. I am always asked, “How do you do it all?” I smile and try to find some response but the answer is simple. I find the time.
Finding Time by Identifying Negotiables and Non-Negotiables
When you are trying to figure out how to fit everything in, start by identifying the big commitments in your life, also known as your non-negotiables. Non-negotiables can be your family, work, home, those things that you need to tend to first before you spend time watching television or being on Facebook. Your kids need you to help with their homework. Your family needs you to converse with them. You need to complete your 9-5 hours. These are the pieces in your life that permanently make up most of the hours in your day.
What about all that time you spend around those activities? How much time do you spend surfing the internet or tending to your Pinterest pins? Even shopping can take up a lot of time. Some of it is groceries but how much time do you waste because you’re “not in a rush”. Every minute you waste on an activity is a minute you take away from what you want to be doing.
The Key To Finding Time
The key to finding time is to actually being motivated. That may sound silly to some, however without motivation, you will procrastinate and fill what available time you have with other activities. Motivation goes beyond just liking something, but motivation pushes you toward action. You have a goal and a desire to reach that goal. You will put what you are motivated toward at a higher priority level. All other activities will fall away and the important items rise to the top.
Motivation shifts what you may have identified as a negotiable into a non-negotiable. If you are motivated to do something, you will find the space for it.
I Had To Find Time For Writing
When I wanted to start writing a novel, I had a lot of activities on the go. There were numerous distractions. I used the common excuse of not having the time to write. I spent time sulking, thinking about how I would like to be writing. It is eye opening to look back at the time I wasted instead of actually doing.
One of the tools I used was NaNoWriMo. What did NaNoWriMo do for me? It helped me set a goal. I had to write approximately 1,500 words per day for a month. Being a competitive person, I needed to have the title of “Winner” under my avatar. Once I signed up, there was no turning back.
I realized I did have the time in my schedule to write. I took a look at what I had going on in my life and I prioritized everything. I noted my negotiables and my non-negotiables. I assessed all my activities and noted I spent a lot of time doing things that were not productive. I told myself I wanted to commit to writing my novel and was willing to limit my time wasters in order to accomplish this.
To meet my goal, I was up earlier in the mornings. I wrote over my lunch breaks during work. Once my family was settled in the evening, I spent time writing until I went to bed. Soon, I had reached the 50,000 NaNoWriMo goal, however I wanted to reach at least 80,000. I continued with this pattern for another month and ended up with 118,000 words. Finally, I could say I wrote the first draft of a novel. Now all I needed to do was edit.
I applied the space I freed up in my schedule to edit the novel. I spent mornings with a cup of coffee and a printed version of my novel and began the process of reviewing the previous words I wrote. The risk I now fight against is filling my time with the old wasters that I had originally cleared away. Since I was no longer using that space for writing, it is easy to claim that time for something unproductive. I am always weighing my activities against my goals. I ask myself, “Am I using my time effectively?” If my answer is no, I need to make a change.
Fitting It All In
So, am I really fitting everything in? No. I am not fitting “everything” in. I am fitting in what I find important. Facebook isn’t important. Watching television for hours isn’t important (except if I am watching something with my family). I make time for the important things in my life. It may seem like I fit a lot of things in, it is because I have squeezed out a lot of the little things. I have maximized my minutes and redirected them toward the important activities.
Every person has a their own list of priorities. You know what is important you. Your list isn’t going to be the same as the next person. As long as your priority list isn’t out of whack, don’t let others prioritize your list. Stick to it. Find a goal and stay motivated to reach it. The longer you do it, the easier it will be to keep going.