As I noted yesterday, time was key issue coming up over and over for readers of Planning With Kids in the 2013 annual survey. I find I move through phases when I feel like I am working well and using my time efficiently, to times where I am frustrated as I am not spending time in the places I really want to be and to other times when I feel overwhelmed by my to do list and the perceived lack of time I have to complete the tasks.
Today Kelly Exeter is sharing a different view of time. I loved reading Kelly’s post as it helped me refocus on what I need to do to start ticking off some of those big ticket items on my to do list. I hope it does the same for you too!
Have you got a little ‘something’ nagging at your brain? A dream or ambition that won’t be silenced no matter how much you tell it to ‘shush’?
If so – what’s the reason you’re not going after it?
It’s ‘time’ isn’t it?
That horribly finite resource.
(One that seems even more finite when you’ve got kids.)
Don’t worry – I know all about the ‘time’ thing.
I’m a writer and we writers are the worst when it comes to how we think about time.
We have this ideal in our head about being able to sit in a quiet place (complete with soft light and a beautiful view) with unlimited hours at our disposal in which to tap away uninterrupted on our keyboards.
This is the only way we’re going to write our book we think.
Sadly, I don’t know a single writer for whom this is reality. In fact I don’t know a single person for whom this is reality!
Everyone I know has kids, a job … and all the myriad responsibilities and commitments common to most adults.
So how does any adult who has a dream or goal they’re trying to achieve deal with this enemy we call ‘time’?
1. They stop calling time ‘the enemy’ for one thing
It’s such a subtle mind-shift, but if we’re always angsting about (our lack of) time, then we truly start to believe it’s against us. And from there, it’s a short step to throwing in the towel because really, if time is against us, what chance do we have?
Time’s not against us and time’s not the enemy.
Time is a simply a resource that needs to be managed.
2. They narrow their goals and ambitions down to one thing
If you have even the tiniest little bit of ‘go-getter’ in you, there are probably several things you want to have a shot at. For instance right now I want to train for a marathon, write another book, build my design business and kick-start a speaking career.
When I think of all those things together, I get completely overwhelmed. I start wailing ‘there’s not enough time to achieve everything I want to do!’
But there’s certainly time to pursue one of them.
This is something people with little time on their hands do particularly well. They use it as an opportunity to zero right in on the one thing that is most important to them.
Then they go after that one thing with vigour.
3. They know where they waste time
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us would admit we could time-waste for Australia.
For instance, I don’t watch much tv but I sure can get sucked into the social media vortex for hours a day. Other people watch hours of tv while getting lost in the social media vortex. Others flick through trashy magazines for hours.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t spend any time doing these things. They’re valid leisure activities. But I challenge you to do an audit of how much time you spend during the week on ‘leisure activities’. You’ll be shocked.
I know I was shocked to find out I could easily pick up an hour a day of productive time if I cut back on social media.
An hour a day! Seven hours a week. Insanity.
It becomes pretty clear at this point that the people who achieve the most as adults are the ones who waste the least amount of the time available to them.
4. They know where they can carve out time most effectively
Once we’re all comfortable with the fact that time is not our enemy. Once we know what our ‘one thing’ is that we want to achieve. And once we’ve discovered we actually have several hours a week in which to achieve it … the next thing we need to do is:
Find a way to make those hours productive.
For me (because my goals are writing centred) the best way to be productive is to write while the rest of my family is asleep. This means either getting up at 5am … or staying up after 9.30pm.
This method gives me solid chunks of time (like 1-2 hours) … which means it would also work well for those with exercise goals or those who are studying.
But not everyone needs big chunks of time like that.
Problogger Darren Rowse famously wrote his first e-book over the course of three months by waking up 15 minutes earlier each day and doing something towards that e-book in those 15 minutes each day.
I think it’s safe to say that no matter how busy or over-committed you are, you can still carve out a 15 minute slot of time for yourself each day.
So try it. Start today. In a year’s time you’ll be stunned at how quickly those 15 minute efforts accumulate into something very special indeed.
Do you have a nagging goal or ambition? Is time the thing stopping you from pursuing it?
Kelly Exeter blogs about embracing the busy and living intentionally at A Life Less Frantic. If the above resonated with you, you will enjoy her new book Your Best Year Yet: 7 simple ways to shift your thinking and take charge of your life available here for Kindle. If you’d like to read the book but don’t have a Kindle or a Kindle app on your iPad, sent your purchase receipt to Kelly via email and she’ll send you a pdf copy.