12 Ways to Create More Time to do What You Love (and What you Really Mean When You Say you Don’t Have Time!)
“Time has a wonderful way to show us what really matters.” –Margaret Peters
Two of the all-time biggest reasons (ahem, excuses!) people use when it comes to not living a life of passion and fulfillment are:
Time and money.
We hear it over and over again from people all over the world. And recently we addressed in depth the money factor challenge in our post “The Biggest Myths about Money and Living Off Your Passion That Are Quietly Killing Your Dreams.”
But this week it’s time to deal with the time challenge!
Have you ever said or thought phrases like these (we certainly have over the years!):
If I just had more time in the day then I’d make it work, but my life is so jam-packed!
I just ran out of time to get it done.
I don’t have time right now.
But the reality is, you are fooling yourself (and others), because what you actually mean is something entirely different…
What “I Don’t Have Time” Really Means
See, we all have the same amount of time in a day. It is one of the few things that actually puts us all on an equal playing field!
So why is it that there are some people who seem to be able to achieve more?
Well the answer is actually quite simple: whenever any of us say “I don’t have time,” what we really mean is:
“It’s just not a priority for me right now.”
Becoming aware of this statement will become a massive wake-up call—just like it was for us. Because all of a sudden you will interrupt your normal way of being, thinking and doing—which for many of us means being caught up in constant excuses.
Changing your language is one of the fastest ways to change your life. So try out some of these replacement phrases and see how it feels to get real:
I don’t have time to work on my passion = My passion isn’t a priority right now
I don’t have time to exercise = My health isn’t a priority right now
I don’t have time to meditate = My mind balance isn’t a priority right now
Now, of course, it might actually be that these things (for example, passion, health, meditation, etc.) are important to you, but you just actually aren’t making them a priority, because you’ve been entertaining an old and familiar conversation in your head. You have been giving the “I don’t have time” thoughts all the attention and power.
When you start to change the conversation in your head, you’ll be taking the first step towards living in alignment with your highest priorities.
I don’t have time to work on my passion—becomes—My passion is a priority and I will do 5 minutes tonight toward it.
I don’t have time to exercise—becomes—My health is a priority and I will do 5 squats right now.
I don’t have time to meditate—becomes—My mind balance is a priority and I will take 3 deep, mindful breaths to prove it.
A Personal Story of Having “Zero Time”
Back in 2011, I (Naz) was lost and feeling dead inside. I was a mother to two young children (3 and 2 years old). I was working full time, and going to a job that was sucking my will to live.
I was also in a marriage that was no longer nourishing anything about who I was. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. My days consisted of dragging the kids out of bed at 6am to watch them curl up on the lounge, tired and grumpy, before I shoveled food into them, quickly got them dressed and then madly rushed all of us into the car for the short trip to daycare where they would both scream and cry as I “threw” them into the arms of almost strangers before I would run to the train for the 1.5-hour commute to work.
At work, I would do boring mundane tasks for 10 hours and then rush to make the train for the 1.5-hour commute back home.
I’d walk in the door sometime after 8pm, hardly acknowledged by my then husband (who himself was completely exhausted after a similar kind of day), as he tried tirelessly to bathe and feed the children just in time for me to read them a bedtime story and kiss them goodnight.
I was living a mediocre life at best and all I could think was “I am exhausted and I have no time for anything else.” To me, I might as well have been dead as there was so little of “me” left that I felt like a ghost of myself.
It felt like I had no other choice. I mean I had to work, right? That is what everyone does these days! And I had been in this job for 10 years. With no other “qualifications,” I felt completely stuck. Thinking back now, it didn’t even dawn on me that not going to that job was an option. I felt completely owned by all the expectations that I or someone else had placed on me.
The wake-up call came one day when I was sitting in a work course about communication. I can’t exactly remember what was said or how it was said, but I remember thinking, “Actually, my boss doesn’t own me. I am the one who is choosing to be here! He isn’t holding a gun to my head (even though he in fact had one!) and forcing me to turn up each day. It is my choice.”
It was in that moment that I decided: This is MY life. I can choose to do what I like with it.
It was probably one of the most powerful moments on my journey to self-discovery. Because I could no longer blame all my shortcomings on people and circumstances “out there.” Rather I had to take responsibility for my life…
And all of these realizations came while I was in the exact same situation, with the exact same amount of time available to me as before. It was just that now I felt I was in the driver’s seat, rather than a victim to my life’s circumstances.
So instead, I made the choice to get creative with the time I did have available (like the long commute by train, lunch hours, weekends, evenings, early mornings, etc.).
How to Magic Yourself More Time
So what did Naz do to start to generate more perceived time in her day, which initially led her to transition roles in her day job, but eventually led her to leave for good, and then start an entirely new business in a seemingly new field?
Here are just some of the steps she took (and that you can, too!) to find more time in your day to do the things you love, and to experience more fulfillment than you do right now:
1. Start (Super) Small
With any habit change, it’s really important to start as small as you can. Getting into that first phase of momentum can be challenging as you’re used to doing things the “old” way. It can be somewhat comfortable.
For example, after falling off the meditating bandwagon for nearly three months, Leah decided that she would aim to meditate for just 10 minutes a day (instead of shooting for 15 or 20 or more). And even if she meditated at 11pm at night before bedtime, that still counted (sometimes falling half asleep during it!).
The point is, she set herself up for success by starting small. And more recently, after her personal trainer moved away and she fell out of a workout routine, instead of doing a full workout for 45 minutes four days a week, she started going for a 20-minute walk twice a week.
Because although our tendency is to shoot high and go all out from the outset, it’s often not sustainable, and can be seriously deflating when you don’t meet your goal.
2. Get Clear on What You Actually Want
Before you can move from where you don’t want to be (and work out how to create more time to get there), you have to know where you actually want to go (or at the minimum identify some place different than where you are now). Take some time to figure this out—a process we walk you through in 21 Days to Discover Your Passion.
And although it’s more than mid-way through the year, you can still create some 2016 goals and action items before the year’s out.
3. Ask Yourself “What Am I Actually Scared of?”
Time is an excuse. Usually people use it because they are scared of something else.
Is it failure, success, being unsure of yourself, not believing you are worthy?
Get super curious about what the time excuse is a cover for—and you will not only magic yourself more time, but you’ll also create more power for yourself.
4. Use the “In Between” Time
We have so much “in between” time in our days. Waiting in line, waiting on hold on the phone, waiting for the kids to come out of school, or for your boss to show up at the meeting. Start using these micro times to work on your project. You’d be surprised how much five minutes of consistent daily action gets you.
Leah and Naz would take their personal laptops into work, and during their 30-minute lunch break do some work on their blog, or on a personal development course. Because 30 minutes each workday seriously adds up! And it was a welcome break from the daily grind…
5. Stocktake the “Wasted” Hours of Your Day
So many of us fill our days with unnecessary tasks that actually progress us nowhere. Is it TV, gossiping, scrolling the social networks, lunch breaks at work, etc.?
Whatever it is for you, take stock of it, and either cut it out or make better use of it. Remember, is this really a priority for you?
The year that Leah embarked on her “find my passion” journey, one of the first things she did was to get rid of her TV. Five years later and she has no idea how she found the time for it in the first place! She believes that there are so many other amazing things to spend time doing than watching mind-numbing TV shows.
6. Start Saying NO
You need to have boundaries in your life. If you cannot say NO, other people’s priorities will sneak into your day and become your priorities.
Do you say yes to hanging out with friends who suck the life out of you? Do you offer to help others out because you feel obligated instead of honoring your own priorities? Do you find yourself doing “busy” work that can wait (cleaning the house endlessly, doing chores, focusing on admin tasks) because they give you a feeling of getting somewhere?
I think a good question to ask is: What is this at a cost to? Because by saying yes to something, you are by default saying no to something else you might rather (and perhaps should rather) do. And saying no to something means you are able to say yes to something really important.
7. Get Real with Yourself
When that sentence “I don’t have time” sneaks out of your mouth, stop and ask yourself: Is that true, or is it just not a priority for me right now?
We always find it very difficult to stay in front of the computer screen working on stuff (even stuff we actually enjoy) when our kids come up and ask for us to hang out with them. How on Earth would we say to them, “Actually, you aren’t really my priority right now”?
8. Wake Up 10 Minutes Earlier or Stay Up Later
As we have said before, small, consistent action makes a huge difference. And you should start small!
Do that one thing in the morning that you know makes you come alive. Over time you will find that you will start to claw back your time to do these things you enjoy. You don’t have to make massive, sweeping changes all in one go.
Naz became a total night owl during the early days of searching for her passion and would treasure the time between putting the kids to bed and hitting the hay herself. Although perhaps not sustainable over a long period, bursts of late-night work are sometimes your only chance for quiet time to focus on your priorities.
9. Move Your Body
It may seem counter-intuitive to want to make time to move your body for at least 20-30 minutes a day. But find a method you enjoy and go and do it! Because research shows you will become more productive and actually achieve more (spend less time procrastinating) by allowing your body to function better.
Many people find the time straight before or after work a good time to slot this activity in. The most successful people around the world do this almost everyday. For example, Richard Branson states that it is the number one way to he thinks you can achieve success. That’s pretty powerful coming from someone of his stature!
Release your need for control. Most people we work with have this insane need to control everything in their lives. Don’t worry, we suffered from this once upon a time, too! But you can find people around you that actually love the things that you despise. What a great match that is!
Just make sure that when you are delegating to that person, they actually want or enjoy the thing you are asking. If it is in a home setting, perhaps you need to have an open and frank conversation with the other people you live with.
For many of us who claim to have no time, it’s simply poor management of that time. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking “If I don’t do x-y-z, then nobody will do it!” Let go of some tasks that are mundane or drain you and ask for help!
11. Use Your Travel Time Wisely
If you currently drive to work, but instead can commute on public transport—take that option instead, as you can do more when someone else is doing the driving. If that is not an option, stop listening to the radio and instead start educating yourself with audiobooks and podcasts.
Naz had a 90-minute commute each way to work, where she previously either slept or played games. But then one day she started to read informative blog posts and listen to educational or motivational podcasts. She decided that it wasn’t worth wasting a minute of that precious time.
12. Turn Off Your Social Media, Email and Phone Notifications
When you are working on your “thing,” cut out all the distractions.
Social media and email will be waiting for you when you are done. The world is certainly not going to end if you are offline for a short time…
Time Is Your Most Precious Resource
You can always get more stuff—more money—but no matter how much you accumulate, you cannot write a check at the end of your life and purchase more time! Time is constantly ticking. There is no reverse switch, and the decisions you make about how to spend your time will largely determine the quality of your life.
So are you ready to join us and stop fooling yourself that you don’t have time to do what matters to you? Are you ready to live a life that you love and to take the small steps towards making it happen? Are you ready to start treating time as the precious and finite resource it is?
Great! Us too! Let us know one step you are committing to take to create more time to do what you love?
And what is your #1 tip for creating more time to do the things you love? We’d love for you to add something new to our list!
Here’s to the excuse-free pursuit of your best life!
–Leah & Naz