Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.
It’s a problem that most people face: they want to work on Amazing Things, but with all the things they have to get done in their lives, there just isn’t time.
My usual response is: make the time.
But how can you make the time if you just have too many things to do and no time left over? Two ways: cut back on time-wasters, and simplify your commitments.
Reader Sylvana recently asked:
I totally commend your approach — set aside time first thing to do what is important / most beneficial in the long term — but I have what may be a female / mother / main carer / worker problem…
I am building a new business having given up a large income in a career I didn’t like. (The loss of my sister to cancer – aged 43 with 2 young children – made me re-evaluate my entire life!)There are so many things I want to, and need to do — but, when I look at my MITs — I have to put them behind my two boys and the family. Let me explain — before I can even consider my MITs — I have to:
— Make packed lunches for my boys
— Take / pick them up, to / from school
— Walk the dog
— Feed the fish and the rabbit
— Do the accounts for my husband’s business
— See my own customers
— Take my kids to their various activities — piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, Chinese, swimming…
— Do homework, music practice, bathing, reading etc.. with the boys (which don’t get me wrong — I love and get great pleasure from..)
But — how am I supposed to find time to carry out what you propose? I have tried, very hard — but things I put down as my MITs end up being sabotaged by the list of things that HAVE TO BE DONE TODAY!
Sylvana’s situation is pretty common — her day is loaded with commitments. I’d say she’ll have a hard time finding the time to work on her goals until she simplifies things a bit.
- The kids might be doing too much. My kids do the same thing — music lessons, soccer, church activities, school stuff, etc. — but sometimes it’s good to scale back their schedules and have them choose just the things that matter most to them. Kids don’t have to have activities every second of the week — some free time is good for them.
- Consider prepping their lunches the evening before, to give you more time in the morning.
- Consider outsourcing your husband’s accounting work. Sure, it’ll cost a little more but you could make more than that if your business takes off. It’s a good investment.
- If the pets are taking up a lot of your time, consider not having any. Pets are another complication that might not be worth the time, for some people. Before pet owners write in with outrage, please understand that this is just something to be considered. I’m not saying people should never have pets.
There are probably other ways she can simplify her commitments, but you get the idea. Nothing is set in stone. Even meeting with clients, even picking up the kids, even doing certain things with them … these are not necessarily set in stone. For example, teaching my kids to make their own breakfasts and lunches and bathe and dress themselves and clean up after themselves has greatly simplified my life.
Your life will be filled with different commitments, but the important thing is to make a list of all of them and evaluate each and every one. Which are most important? Perhaps Sylvana decides that spending time with the kids and her clients are most important — keep those. Eliminate the others, as much as possible, over time. It’s possible — I’ve done it and many others have as well.
Once you free up the time — use it wisely!
Another thing to consider is how you spend the rest of your time. Do you watch a lot of TV? Surf the Internet a lot? Spend time with different online social networking — forums, Twitter, Digg, and so on? Playing video games? You might consider cutting back on these time-wasters to make time for your goals. I know when I cut back on TV, it freed up a lot of my time.
We’re all busy. We all have a lot of things to do. But if your goals are really important to you, you can make the time. Simplify your commitments, and cut back on time-wasters. You can do it!
Read more about simple productivity, focus and getting great things done in my book, The Power of Less.