5 steps to find time for the things you love

As highlighted in previous posts, the PWK annual survey revealed many readers felt finding time for all aspects of their life a challenge, including time doing the things they loved.

I cannot say I manage to do all the things I love all of the time. My life is full and it just doesn’t work out that way. I do however spend time on many things that I love to do:

  • Spending time with the family
  • Seeing friends
  • Running
  • CrossFit
  • Cooking

However I rarely spend time:

  • Watching TV/movies
  • Shopping
  • Talking on the phone to friends
  • Reading books (but this is improving)
  • Canteen duty

And one day I would like to spend time:

  • Attending a book club
  • Growing my own veggies
  • Volunteering to help refugees
  • Weekly nights out with my husband
  • Seeing live music regularly

For now I happy with the way these lists fall as I have made conscious decisions for it to be this way. Family life moves through phases and with each phase I can make new decisions on how I will spend my available time.  I very much agree with the view:

“You CAN have it all…just not all at the same time.” {source}

This is the process that I have worked through to work out where I will spend my time:

1. Knowledge

I need to know what of all the things I love to do, is most important to me now. What will give me the greatest joy? I spent time noticing how my emotions were after spending time on various activities. Going for a run on my own makes me feel energised, refreshed and I love the time to myself. Spending time with my family makes me feel grounded and loved.

Get to know the things that have the greatest emotional impact on you.

2. Awareness

I need to become aware of how I am currently spending my time. I have talked about writing down my week before, but you could do a daily exercise to give you a quick snapshot in how you are spending your time.

The daily exercise is a little tedious but effective. Set a timer to go off for every hour you are awake. Note down how you spent that last hour. At the end of the day, you will have an idea of areas where you are spending time that you could possibly cut out.

In the book  Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time (aff link) by Brigid Schulte, Schulte speaks to sociologist John Robinson who says:

“It’s very popular, the feeling that there are too many things going on, that people can’t get in control of their lives and the like,” Robinson says. “But when we look at peoples’ diaries there just doesn’t seem to be the evidence to back it up.”

Be honestly aware of how you are using your time.

3. Decide

I then have to decide what am I going to keep doing and what am I going to cease. For me this was pretty easy to do and I didn’t need to write it down.

If you are not so sure, write down all the things that you say to yourself or others “I wish I had time for….”. Then rank them. This is never easy, but you need to make a conscious decision on where you want to spend your time to prevent other people’s priorities dominating your days.

Be definite in where you want to spend your time.

4. Commit

I need to commit to spending time on the activities I love and giving them the same type of priority I would a business meeting for example. I have set days when I run, bake and blocked out time for the family.

To ensure I have this time, I need to commit and stick to it though. When the alarm goes off very early in the morning for my run, I know if I decide to go back to sleep, my window of opportunity will be missed.

While these times can easily be skipped or moved, once you start doing this on a regular basis, it is harder to claw back the time somewhere else.

Often not committing to a time to do something is because we may find it hard, challenging or we are afraid of something. Sometimes it is easier to forgo the time than have to adjust other areas.

Reflect on how these activities make you feel and commit to making the time for them.

5. Support

I then garner support from my family and offer my support to them so they can do the activities they love too. Everyone deserves to spend time on activities that are important to them and there is no reason why one person should miss out.

I realise not everyone is lucky enough to have the support required in their immediate or extended family unit. Working in with other parents / friends could be an option. Taking it in turns even once a week to look after each others kids for a few hours in the morning so you can attend a class or go for a run might be something you can arrange.

It can be hard to find the time without adequate support – seek out those who can help you and who you can help.

How do you find time for the things you love?