How to Find Time for What Really Matters

By Ali Luke

February 13, 2012   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Family Watching TV

Do you ever feel as though weeks, months, even years, are going past, without you making any real progress in your life? Often, our time can get swallowed up in the busy-ness of day-to-day living: emails, commuting, meetings, chores, TV…

You’ve probably got some aspects of your life that really matter to you, but that never seem to get the time they deserve. Perhaps it’s your family or friends. Maybe it’s that novel you’ve always meant to write, or that small business you want to start.

Here’s how to find enough time for the things that are truly important:

  1. Get Up Earlier
    If you work a regular office job, you might tell yourself that you’ll work out / study / draw up that business plan during the evenings. But, day after day, you’ll reach 6pm and find yourself so tired and demotivated that you just slump on the sofa.

The solution? Make time for the important things at the start of your day. That means getting up earlier – perhaps half an hour or an hour before your usual alarm call (and heading to bed earlier so you get enough sleep).

In a few cases, though, multitasking is a great idea. For instance, you could:

  • Listen to audio books while driving to work, or exercising
  • Read a book while traveling by bus / train / plane
  • Make phone calls while you’re out walking

Essentially, any time you’re engaged in a purely physical task, see whether there’s some way you can combine it with a mental one.

  • Make Specific Plans
    You’re not going to magically end up with lots of free time to work on your novel or hang out with your family. You need to make actual plans. And if you want to maximize the chance that you’ll stick to those plans, either put money on the line or get other people involved.

That might mean booking tickets for a concert you want to go to, or agreeing to meet up a friend to go for a job. It could mean paying to attend an evening class, or promising your kids that you’ll take them to see a movie on Saturday.

  • Ring-fence Certain Days/Times
    This is similar to #3 … but you’re not necessarily making specific plans to be somewhere. You’re simply setting aside time on a regular basis to work on an important goal or project.

That could be:

  • You always spend Tuesday evenings reading a book, instead of watching TV.
  • You’ve blocked out Saturday mornings to work on your small business.
  • Every Friday lunchtime, you get out of the office and sit in a cafe with your laptop for an hour, writing your novel.

By “ringfencing” particular days and times, you make it easy to avoid committing yourself to other activities. You also ensure that you’re making steady progress towards a goal, by working on it at least weekly.

What are your real priorities in life? How could you start dedicating more time to them? Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.

Ali Luke

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