Do you find yourself REALLY wanting to do certain things, but never finding the time? I’m not talking about your average to-do list of “fold laundry” and “pick up groceries” here. I’m talking specifically about your WANT-to-do list. Things that you would actually really enjoy doing, but you never get to, because your MUST-do list is too overwhelming.
I have a full-time job (other than this website) and kids and a MUST-do list of boring stuff just like the next person. My husband and I are also DIY renovating a house and I have a serious website-making addiction. Sometimes we get asked how we find time to do it all, which totally cracks us up, because we don’t. 😀 But since this question keeps coming up, I decided to write this post and share some tips for how to make time for doing things you want to do even when you are crazy busy and don’t think you have time for anything else.
Maybe you want to learn to paint or travel the world or change careers or tickle your toes. Read more books or decorate cakes or join a band or pick your nose. (Sorry, too much Dr. Seuss!) If so, here are five ways to find the time to make it happen:
1. Be patient and allow things to take a long time
The fact that you can’t do something as quickly as you would ideally like, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it at all.
Ever since I can remember, The Huz and I had talked about buying a fixer upper some day. Taking some ugly duckling house and making it pretty all by our-DIY-selves. But we were only in high school or we were in college with no money or we were just starting our careers or we were having our first baby or, or, or… We were really good at coming up with excuses.
But then we added twins to our family of three and two things happened.
One, I spent an insane amount of time breastfeeding two babies and watching HGTV while the babies went at it.
Two, we spent an insane amount of time driving around different neighborhoods around where we live because having all three kids strapped in their car seats was the only way to keep everyone quiet for a while and give us a breather.
Put one and two together and it wasn’t long before the fixer upper talk started up again. At first we said there’s no way we’d have time for anything like that until the kids are in college.
Then we revised it to say “well maybe when they are all in school.”
By the time the twins were one, we had started actively looking for our fixer upper.
What changed? We were still as busy as ever with three young kids and two full-time jobs.
The only thing that changed was our mindset. We just decided to do it even if it took us a long time. Our renovation would not happen in six weeks like on the Property Brothers. Our renovation would take years and we decided to be ok with that. Because the alternative would be to wait for some elusive “better time” that might never come.
Depending on how the kids’ bedtime goes and how tired we are, we have two to three hours to work on the house some evenings and then a few additional hours between other things on the weekends.
It’s now three years later and our fixer upper is one third beautiful and two thirds total wreck.
Yes, it’s taking us a long time. But do we regret it? Aside from a few low moments, no. We are happy we started when we did, because we are that much closer to our dream home, and if we had waited, we would not be where we are today.
2. Accept that being inefficient is ok as long as some progress is being made
When we first started working on the renovation, we kept saying that we needed to complete task x all at one time or we needed a certain amount of hours to complete task y because starting and stopping and then starting again was going to be too inefficient. And it’s true, working on something like that is inefficient and can be kind of frustrating.
But we quickly realized that we have to either work inefficiently or not work at all. And inefficient progress is still better than no progress. If we waited around and only did stuff when we had an eight-hour stretch, we would never be able to do anything.
15-minute increments is where it’s at, yo! And it helps to have a to-do list with things you’d like to accomplish, so that you don’t spend your precious 15 minutes trying to remember what it was you were supposed to do. (Not that I have any personal experience with that or anything. 🙂 )
3. Spend time intentionally
I don’t always do a great job of being mindful of how I’m spending my time, but it’s something I’m always striving to get better at.
Sometimes, when The Huz and I are questioning our priorities, we like to apply what we call the Wheelchair Race Test. We picture ourselves at 99 years old racing through the nursing home in our wheelchairs. What do we want to hear ourselves saying?
“Remember how we were badasses and renovated that entire house?” VERSUS “Remember how sparkling clean our house always was because we did a deep clean every Saturday?”
“Remember how I had that silly website where I revealed to everyone what a mess I am” VERSUS “Remember how I watched TV for three hours every night?”
And then there’s this one that’s part of the reason why our renovation is moving so slowly:
“Remember how we tried to do fun stuff with the kids almost every weekend when they were little” VERSUS “Remember how we spent every free minute renovating that house?”
Your answers to these types of questions might be completely different from ours, but the important thing is to keep asking them and figure out what YOUR priorities are.
4. Let go of perfectionism
I sometimes struggle with perfectionism to the point where it’s paralyzing, as in “if I can’t do this perfectly, I won’t do it at all.”
This website business is one place where I’ve been able to let go of that. I’m not a professional writer or photographer. Nor am I a professional website developer or graphic designer.
But these were all things I was interested in learning about and I needed a creative outlet of some kind, so I just decided to go for it, even if I didn’t have time to make it the fanciest website ever and it would take me five years longer than other people with more time or talent to figure out how to do it well.
Cause who cares? I’m having fun with it all.
I know multi-tasking is kind of out of vogue. You are supposed to be in the moment and focus on the task at hand and all that. And I agree that if you are trying to do two tasks that require the same part of your brain, multi-tasking can get pretty inefficient.
But vogue or no vogue, I know that I would get a whole lot less done if I didn’t multi-task. I’ll fold laundry or make lists or shop online or research one of my projects while catching up with my favorite TV shows.
I do most of my thinking work – planning and writing – while exercising or showering or doing mindless household chores.
And then there’s the three minutes there and five minutes here – in the car, the checkout line, while the kids are making sand cakes – that I work on things on my phone. I use google docs and google sheets and any.do to plan and keep track of all my various projects.
To write this very blog post, for example, I thought it out while I was mowing the yard and then I typed it up later, on my phone, in probably 20 different two-minute sessions here and there. If I waited until I had two hours of uninterrupted time to sit in front of the computer and get it all done at once, you would not be reading this post right now.
So here’s my best advice: whatever it is you want to do in life, start working on it today, five minutes at a time if that’s all you have. A year from now, you’ll be ecstatic you started today.
What have you always dreamed of doing that you don’t have time for?
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