Finding Time When It’s Scarce

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One of the greatest challenges to productivity, is creating time to work on the things that matter most. While it makes sense to make the time that you have count, it is also imperative to create pockets of opportunities to get things done.

While it would be great to wait for opportunities to arise, or for the stars to align in order to tackle some of our largest projects, we often are not gifted with the perfect set of circumstances that give us the time and space to work on our goals. This is why we have to be proactive and create those spaces where there appear to be no opportunities to do so.

Conduct a schedule audit.

One of the keys to finding time when it is scarce, is to conduct an audit of your schedule to determine where there is waste of time, or where is an excess amount of time spent on activities with low returns.

For example, if you watch more than 5 hours of television daily, perhaps you can shave off 30 minutes during each weekday, for a total of 2.5 extra hours each week to complete on a task that has a larger return or benefit in your life.

Additionally, while auditing your schedule, you might determine that beneficial and necessary tasks, may not need to take as long as they take you at present.

If you could shave off 15 minutes from dinner preparation by preparing the ingredients the day before, or preparing all of your meals for the week on Sunday, and only cooking on certain days, you could save up to an hour daily, which you could use towards working on writing, or exercising, or working on videos for your YouTube cooking channel.

Think of a schedule audit as very similar to a budget. When creating a budget, you allocate spending amounts for certain categories, and similarly, with a schedule audit, you must allocate time in the same way.

By dedicating certain amounts of time for certain activities, on a regular basis, you can produce work on a more regular basis, or create time to do the things that matter most to you, with greater frequency.

In the same way that a budget overtime produces larger gains by collective savings, a schedule audit produces similar productivity benefits.

Live life in the Margins

One of the phrases that captures well the idea of creating time when there is a general scarcity, is writer Jeff Goins’ idea of living life in the margins. Goins’ compares life as the stuff in the middle of a piece of paper (wide or college ruled–your preference really), and the margins, where in grade school we were told to never write, as the empty, unused space that people rarely venture into.

Photo credit: Stock Unlimited

Life, similarly has immovable tasks like work, school, or family obligations that are placed in the middle, that occupy most of our time (justifiably so). Completing tasks in the margin, require that we employ strategies outlined above (auditing to determine where you can borrow from the larger tasks, or cut from unnecessary ones), in order to budget even smaller pockets of time to work on your larger objectives.

For example, an extra 15 minutes each day may not seem like much, but waking up 15 minutes earlier to exercise, or to journal, or meditate, or paint, or write, over a period of 30 days, you’ve gained 7.5 hours.

In the span of a year, this expands to 90 extra hours. In combination with taking time away from other activities with a lower rate of return (with respect to the goals you’ve outlined for your life), you can create time where it was previously scarce, and create opportunities to engage in the work that matters most to you.

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