“You will never find time for anything. You must make it.” -Charles Buxton. M
If you’re like most achievers, you probably wish that you had more time to pursue a dream project that really matters to you. If only you had a little extra wiggle room in your schedule to enroll in an online course, write a novel, make a few phone calls to pitch an idea to potential investors, or even splash some paint on a blank canvas that’s been tucked away in your garage.
No matter how busy you are, you can’t seem to dim your inner spark. Every time you make an excuse to put things off, you know that you’re betraying yourself. Like an insidious phantom, your guilt will haunt you until you notice it and acknowledge that your dream projects are worth being taken seriously and acted on.
During my tenure as a life coach I met far too many people with unrealized dreams; an IT guy who dreamed of becoming the next Jay Z, a timid teacher who lacked the courage to display her artwork, and the consultant who loved the idea of volunteering in Africa, helping to build schools. I was intuitively aware that my clients were just a small portion of a world that filled with dreamers who need guidance and courage to forge ahead.
There are a myriad of reasons why people feel blocked: intimidation, insufficient drive, lack of passion and commitment, fear of accountability, and lack of discipline or time. I’ve addressed several of these in previous posts. The one that I’d like to shine a light on here is time. More specifically, the tools and mindset that’s needed to carve out time for our passion projects.
Without exception, all of us have been allocated 24 hours in a day, and 365 days in a year. But there are some of us who are better at managing our time than others. Like a chef at a teppanyaki grill, they slice their days in a way that’s most appealing to their taste and palate, while the rest of us tend to squander our time on inconsequential or menial tasks. This leads us to ruefully ask ourselves, “Where did all the time go?”
There’s no reason to feel victimized by the sands of time. Time flows the same for everyone. The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough time to do the things we want, but that we don’t prioritize certain tasks enough to make the time for them. We fail to harness our excitement for a project or create the structures needed for us to reach our goals and vision.
No matter what we do, or don’t do, time is going to pass – days are going to turn into months, months will turn into years, and years into decades. That’s why we must treat time as a form of currency that should be spent judiciously, and with care. We need to ask ourselves, “How am I going to make the most of the precious hours that I’ve been given so that I will feel satisfied, accomplished and at peace?”
Without asking ourselves honest and incisive questions like these, it’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency and procrastination. Without a strong vision, we have nothing that will pull us towards the future. Even if you feel like you aren’t accountable to anyone, you’re ultimately accountable to yourself, and your soul contract. Your urge to give life to your ideas is a sacred duty that originates from a spirit-centered place that guides you towards wholeness and wisdom.
Another important factor to consider when it comes to making time for your projects is the time it will take for your dreams to actually come to fruition. Once you’re clear on what you’d like to achieve, you’ve got to be prepared to play the waiting game. There’s no Fairy Godmother waving her magic wand to create instant success. Achievement is the result of grit, patience and persistence.
The good news is that you’re embarking on a well-worn path that’s been traversed by many. There are tried-and-tested time management techniques that can be customized to your personal situation. I’ve listed four ways that you can make time for your dream projects. Begin with baby steps by trying one of two of these. You’ll soon build momentum and make progress.
1. Get rid of time leakage: You’ll be astonished to see just how much time can get wasted on trivial things like social media, TV, and browsing on your smartphone. These activities only distract you. If you would like to indulge in some of these pastimes ensure that you put a cap on how much time you spend on them. Road traffic is also a major source of time leakage. A good way to avoid it is by using navigation tools such as Google Maps to find alternate routes to avoid getting stuck in soul-sapping congestion. You also want to avoid people who fritter away your time with mindless chatter, like a co-worker who gossips about company politics, or a friend who calls you up to vent her frustrations about her unfulfilling love life. Be scrupulous when it comes to eliminating time leakages so that you can free up some time to add more productive activities to your day.
2. Consider how much time you need to invest and set a minimum target: Before embarking on a project, I like to estimate how much time I will need to complete it based on my abilities, my other responsibilities, and the deadline I’ve set for myself. Adding a deadline will create a sense of urgency that will make you more meticulous about sticking to your timeline. Once you’re aware of how much time is needed, you can set a minimum target for the time you’ll invest in it on a daily basis. This is called chunking – you do a little bit every day until it finally adds up, pushing you across the finish line. For example, if you’re writing a book, you can set yourself a target of writing 10 pages a day. If you would like to go back to school, you can allocate 30 minutes in your day to research programs and studying application requirements. This process reflects on the Japanese principle of Kaizen, where you improve your productivity based on self-discipline, structure, organization, and good planning skills.
3. Look for uninterrupted time slots in your schedule and get organized: Once you’ve removed the time leakages and created a schedule that has a better and more orderly flow, you’ll find it easier to carve out free time to pursue your projects. It’s essential to look for uninterrupted blocks of time in your schedule during which you’ll be free from distraction. This is especially important if you plan to engage in deep, creative work. In your calendar, allocate time that you will spend on your creative project and, if needed, inform the people around you so that they will respect the space and privacy you need to step into your creativity bubble. I suggest choosing a time when you feel sharp and alert. If you’re a morning person, you could wake up earlier to work on your projects, and if you’re a night person, you could stay up late.
4. Make it non-negotiable: Once you’ve created a game plan that fits into your current lifestyle, the next step is to channel your inner disciplinarian. This means that you restrict any distractions and temptations that may sway you away from your commitment to your project. You need to be laser-focused and internally driven to see it through. Treat the time allocated for your project as sacred, as though you have an appointment with your muse that you won’t cancel under any circumstances. It has to be a non-negotiable item on your to-do list. If you ever feel like procrastinating, remind yourself of your vision so that you can reignite your enthusiasm. If needed, find an accountability partner such as a friend, coach, or a professional group who can check-in with you and support your progress.
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for your creative projects – your dreams need to go through a period of gestation before coming to life. Keep yourself motivated by celebrating the small victories and noticing even the most minuscule accomplishments you make along the way. Give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts, because each and every action that you take is bringing you one step closer to personal empowerment and success.
All my best on your journey,
Question: How do you make time for your dream projects when you’re too busy? What are the main challenges that you face?