How to Create More Time for Fun
Time is a funny thing. It's elusive. It's expandable. It can drag on forever. It can fly by. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months. Months run into seasons, and seasons pass into years. It goes on and on and on. Time is energy. If you're waiting for the perfect time, it will never be right. That's exactly why the time is now. Time has weight. A second can last forever. We think time is something we have; time is something we create.
Today I want to show you how you can create more time. If you find yourself thinking, there's just not enough time, then this post will interest you. If you would do something if only you had more time, then this will be helpful for you because I'm going to teach you how to create more time in your day. There is time to do what you want to do. There is time to have a hobby. Make time to learn today.
There are two thing to understand before you can begin to manage your time. By now you probably can guess that the first thing I'm going to say is to be aware of your time because awareness is always the first step. The second thing to know is how do you want to fill your time, and then you can manage it. First, let's become aware of how you are spending your time.
How are you currently spending your time
Because time is so elusive, I have an activity to help you be super aware of your time. But for this to work, you actually have to work at it. You need to make a list of everything that happens in a week. It's important to only include things that happen in an average week. If you have an appointment at the spa, include that because it is scheduled; it is your intention to go to the spa. You made time for it. (If you actually schedule time for a spa in your week, leave some tips in the comments.) If you enjoy an impromptu bath, don't include it. This also means that you don't include the things that you want to do but never get around to doing. You need to list the task and the time it takes to complete the task. There are six areas:
- prep time
- work time
- play time
- development time
- time out
I created a workbook to help you with this. It's in the Resource Library. Print it out or use your notebook and work on this over the next week. If you don't know how much time any certain task takes, use a timer and figure it out. How much time does it actually take to clean the bathroom? If you just cleaned it two days ago, will it take less time to clean it now? What can you do to complete your tasks in less time? We often spend more time thinking about what we need to do than the actual time it takes to complete the task.
Doing the above activity will really open your eyes to what is going on with your time. The first time I ever did it, I was astounded. I didn't realize how much time I was wasting, doing basically nothing, but I couldn't call it 'time out' because I wasn't resting. It made me realize that I had so much time that I wasn't utilizing. I realized that if I just got up and did everything that I wanted to do for the day, I could pretty much be done with everything by lunch time, and then I could have the afternoon to do whatever I wanted to do.
It was also really cool to see that I could clean the bathroom in 5 minutes. There are days when I can do it in three if I have a lot going on. And, there are days when I can take 10 or 15 minutes to really do a more thorough job, and make sure I'm loving the space. Either way, knowing how long certain tasks take makes it easier to schedule in those things that need to be done. That brings us to the second part: What do you actually want to do with your time?
What do you want to do with your time
Remember that everything is a choice, and you are in control of your time. You don't have to clean. You choose to because you like having a clean house. You don't have to pay your electric bill. You choose to pay it because you like to flip a switch and have light. You don't have to take care of your kids. You choose to because you want them to have your values, or maybe you don't want to go to work to pay for child care.
Sometimes we forget what we like, that we have a choice. We take things for granted. Ask yourself what you like to do, and why you like it. Ask yourself what you would do if you had free time. What would you do if your day went perfectly? What would you do if your life was your real ideal life?
I was just talking about this with my husband. I thought it would be really cool to have this established routine with the ladies here where I would have an open invitation for them to come over the first Wednesday evening of every month from about 6-11pm. Wouldn't that be cool? So why am I not doing it?
One thing that has always stood out to me from my childhood is how my parents would take all of us kids and just go for a drive. Sometimes we would end up on the side of the road up Spearfish Canyon with a random picnic and fun in the creek. We were always hiking and they would take pictures, and then drive around to the next great place. Life felt so adventurous. As a kid, I knew I wanted to be a photographer and that I was going to live life like that, seeking joy and taking pictures.
But the thing is, I'm not. And there is absolutely no reason why I'm not other than 'I don't have time to go drive around like that.' All we have is time. We just need to create better use of it.
If nothing else mattered, what would you do? If you didn't have to worry about anything what would you do? And then ask yourself why. That is what you need to start making time for. Think about it. Learn what it is that you really want to be spending your time doing. Then, you can manage it.
Manage your time
After you become aware of how you are spending your time, and you know how you want to spend your time, you can start planning and managing it. There are four steps total:
- Step one: Is it important or urgent?
- Step two: When is the best time to do this?
- Step three: Let it flow.
- Step four: Stay aware + open to reevaluate.
1. IMPORTANT OR URGENT
When it comes to planning + prioritizing you have to put in some thought. Stephen Covey says to do the so-called big rocks first. The big rocks are those important things that you know you should be doing, but they aren't necessarily urgent, so you keep putting them off. But they keep coming up and you keep thinking about them because they are important and you really should do them, but you just want to do this other thing first because...yada yada. That's why they are big. Big thoughts, big stress, big rocks.
An easier way to look at this is to ask if it aligns with your values or not. If the kids want to go for a walk and you feel like you don't have time, and yet, you value quality family time, think about what results you will get from making time to go for a walk right now. The obvious thing is that need for quality family connection is met, but it also goes deeper.
Because that need is met, maybe you will feel better overall. Maybe you will feel less stressed because you took time to slow down. Maybe the kids will give you more space now, and you will be twice as productive at whatever needs doing next, and so what you do will take less time. Or, you could spend the same amount of time, and get double the results. That is a big rock indeed. To live a values based life means to do what is important.
Think about it like going through your mail. Mail is also important. It doesn't feel urgent at all, but it is one of those things that keeps coming up again + again when it's ignored. Create a daily habit to open, pay, and file your mail. Look for connections to your values. Maybe you value money. I open my mail because I value my money. I also value cleanliness and I love not having piles on my desk. It is good to remind yourself why you do things. It makes it easier to do them.
Do the important things first.
2. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DO THIS
I don't want to overlook step two. What about all those other things that need to be done? There is breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, cleaning, laundry, diapers, and that isn't even half of it. Yes, we could choose to not do any of it, but if we are honest with ourselves, I think we want to do it. We just need to know when to do it so that it all works out.
If you want to bake something, then ask yourself, when is the best time for me to bake? If the first answer that comes to your mind is 'Nap time,' your second thought is probably going to be 'No.' But, what if? What if you gave up reading your book during nap time to have uninterrupted baking time resulting in the best chocolate cake you have ever made? What if you actually enjoyed it? Now that would be cool.
Think about this with those important things that need to be done. Figure out when you can do them so they actually get done. Then it will be easier to fit in all the other things.
3. LET IT FLOW
So the lesson here isn't to find a time and physically schedule it in your planner. Of course, you can do that if it works for you, but sometimes I feel like that just takes more time. The lesson is to understand how your day flows, and to fit in what needs to be done into the spaces where it can be done the most efficiently.
This leads into step three. When you know when the ideal time would be to do it, you can just let your day flow. When you know how much time you need to finish a task, you will know when you can fit it into your day. Do not skip the time management exercise at the beginning of this post. It will help you. And then you can flow with the intention you set to accomplish more in your day.
A really cool concept that I came across regarding flow is to start with how many hours you have in a week. There are 168 hours in a week. Next, subtract your sleep hours. I like to sleep at least 8 hours a night. If I'm pregnant or nursing, I like at least 9. Eight hours of sleep adds up to 56 hours. Then subtract how much time you spend at work. If you work part time, 20 hours, subtract that. You are left with 92 hours of flow time. That's more than 13 hours a day. This is amazing to me.
I can get 8 hours of sleep, work 20 hours a week, and still have 13 hours to cook and clean and take care of my family. I feel so positive that within those 13 hours I can find time to learn photography. Of course it's going to work out! What can you make work out in your favor?
4. AWARENESS + REEVALUATION
The last part is basically just a reminder. Stay aware and be open to reevaluate. This means paying attention and noticing when something isn't working so you can change it. Maybe the best time to bake is actually in the evenings, when the kids are in bed.
When something isn't working, when you have to really effort at something, go back to those first questions and reevaluate. Maybe you changed. Maybe your values changed. If you really value something, you will create time to do it.
If you have something that you really value but you keep feeling like you don't have the time to do it, go back and see what you are really spending your time doing. Pay attention to your excuses. Remind yourself why you value it.
Life is a practice. We flow from day to day, learning and growing and we always need to check back in with ourselves to see if what we are doing is actually what we want to be doing. It's so easy to fall into autopilot. These tips are a great way to really examine yourself and design your own life.
If you want to really take this to the next level, get the Time Management Workbook in the Resource Library. The password is in your email.