How to Create Time on Your Calendar for What You Really Want
You have the time. Trust me. You have the time. If Bill Gates, Mark Cuban and Oprah Winfrey can make time on their calendars for competing priorities, then you sure as heck can, too. We all complain with one very similar refrain about pursuing the things we really want:
“I don’t have the time.”
You do. I do. The most successful people in the world have the time. We’re all allotted 24 hours per day. Despite many responsibilities, so much of how we spend our time comes down to desire. So while you’re juggling that job at The Home Depot, hear me out for a second: You need to become better at scheduling your time and being more selfish about how you spend it.
Then, you’ll find you have all the time you need to do the things you love.
The greatest strides we make in our careers and personal ventures are when we also have the most responsibilities on our plate. It seems counter-intuitive, does it not? How could we accomplish so much “on the side” when we have a job, children, family obligations or God forbid, other stresses to deal with?
Competing priorities, by nature, help make our minds more competitive. Competition leads to precise decision-making, which leads to a better allocation of our time. For example, right after my son was born, I still worked my 9–5 job, coached high school basketball and began writing my first book. None of these things negatively affected my ability to be a loving, responsible father to my son.
You may be grinding in your job as a marketing associate, dreaming of one day launching a media strategy company that helps female entrepreneurs better brand themselves. No matter your circumstances, this is a call to ask yourself:
How bad do I want it?
No matter how much we convince ourselves of the opposite, WE HAVE THE TIME TO DO WHAT WE WANT!
I never said it was easy. And you will need to decide, particularly if it’s a side hustle, which extracurricular venture you will pour your time and resources into.
Before I proceed further and you tell me that I’m crazy, allow me to clarify — there is a big difference between constants and variables. If you add your personal ambitions on top of constants — things like a steady job and family responsibilities — your chances of success are much greater than if you add responsibilities on top of variables like other passions, health concerns or money problems.
Those things change. While job and family situations can change over time, they’re much more likely to be constant in the short-term. We can plan our lives around these things.
I made the active choice to give writing and career coaching my full-time attention this past year. That meant sacrificing coaching high school basketball — one of my loves — for the time being. The point is, you will have to make sacrifices. But you should never, ever sacrifice what you love to do most. So, let’s take a closer look at your daily schedule. Let’s see if we can find the time!
Here’s a perfectly mediocre daily planner! You even have a margin for “To-Do” items and Notes! Let’s use this as an example. Feel free to follow along and download a spreadsheet or use your own.
Your day may begin before 8am, like mine, so let’s start at 6am. Plot out your daily activities. Then, move to the next day in your calendar and the next and so on, plotting out your daily activities until you’ve completed your weekly calendar.
Begin with the constants — the necessities like job, family responsibilities, commuting time and meals. These should take up significant blocks of time on your daily calendar.
Next, focus on filling in the space in between those major pillars of time with extracurricular activities or hobbies. That may involve going for a run, playing soccer with friends or working out at the gym. Of course, that also involves time with your family and friends, or things like going on a date or meeting someone for coffee.
But before you get carried away, here is where it’s important to buckle down and make YOU your critical focus. This is a true paradigm shift.
Look at your updated calendar. I’m willing to bet that even with 7–8 hours of sleep, an 8–9 hour work day and 3–4 hours of family responsibilities (time with loved ones, dinner, etc.) you can still find 2–3 hours per day to work on things that will make you happier. Even if it’s only two hours! That is where the battle is won or lost.
You can use the other two hours to Snapchat, text with your friends or catch up on your favorite Netflix show. But for two hours, you will feel much more fulfilled and accomplished by focusing on your “side hustle” or dream that you hope to someday turn into your full-time job.
Fight for Your Time and Protect Your Calendar!
When I was working in lower Manhattan, I had a 45-minute train ride from the suburbs and then a 15-minute subway ride from Penn Station. For that combined hour, I read books, and wrote thousands of words that will become the pages and chapters of my upcoming book on Values. I did the same thing on the way home, while also dedicating 90 minutes each evening to writing.
Don’t have a public transportation commute? Then buy an audio book and listen to that for motivation, inspiration or edification. Start waking up 30 minutes earlier than you’re used to waking up. Spend that time in meditation, prayer or journal writing. You’ll be amazed at the thoughts and ideas that pop into your mind. One or some may lead to your brand new business plan or branding strategy.
You have to fight to find your time but it’s not nearly as difficult as you think. You can have your family, day job and household responsibilities if you’re willing to get organized. Scheduling your time is imperative! You’ll work more intelligently and passionately during the free time you have because you’ll realize its value.
Its value could be millions of dollars in future income. It may be thousands of extra hours in time that you invest on your business, doing what you really love, as opposed to working in a desk job or service-industry role putting big bucks in someone else’s pocket.
Do me a favor: Do a time audit. No, you won’t need PWC to come help you. You probably won’t want to, either, after that whole Oscars debacle! They have enough issues on their hands these days!
Just plan out your day as it currently is. And look at the time you spend on things that don’t really matter. When you look at the things today that occupy your time, what stands out as clutter? What’s wasting your time that you haven’t consciously realized?
We all need to relax and decompress. I’m not suggesting you eliminate that time from your day. What I am suggesting, is that you eliminate “time-wasters” like staying up too late texting or watching too much TV. You may free up two hours right there! Am I hitting home?
No More Excuses
There are a lot of excuse-makers in today’s society. Let’s face it — you’re probably getting sick of hearing them. We have to make a conscious effort just to drown out their voices! Here are some:
You’ll never be able to build up that side business
You’re too tired at night, you can’t!
Your dreams are all in your head. You don’t have enough experience!
Let me ask you: What’s your thing? The thing that gets you out of bed every morning and lights the fire inside of you? The thing that adds color to your life and radiates its light around for all the world to see?
What is that?
Is it writing? Developing a new software app? What about becoming a doctor or leader in your community on civic affairs? Chances are, it’s not your day job. If it is, then God bless you. You’re one of the fortunate few. But if it’s not, then you have work to do. That work is your passion, the side job or hobby that you want to stop hearing people call, “a hobby.”
You want it to become your life and what people know you by. You have to understand that you have the time to do this work. We all have the time. We can convince others — and worse yet, ourselves — that we don’t have the time to do the things that our hearts desire most. We’re fooling others and deluding ourselves. There’s no sense in that.
Start getting organized and focused around what you want. Then, do a time audit and look at how you can convert your valuable “open time” into hours spent working on your dream. Your future self will thank you.
If you enjoyed reading this piece, please be so kind as to share and recommend to others. Also, please consider following me here on Medium! My upcoming book on Values is due out this Spring. Contact me via my website here and subscribe for awesome updates if you feel inclined! Like my Facebook writer’s page here!
I’m so grateful for all of your support as I continue to dream and live out my journey. I fully support yours. Keep Going!