Nearly everyone I know is squeezing something into the margins of their lives. They have day jobs, but they also have a passion project tugging at their attention. One friend is writing a novel, another is illustrating a comic book, and another is starting an interior design company. For me, I want to write more. I want to find time to write more creatively, to explore new ideas, which feels like a pipe dream with a calendar full of deadlines and three kids under 5 underfoot.
When I learned to harness my mornings to work on my most important goals, my entire life changed. I set aside two hours before I do anything else to tackle what feels most important to me, and for the first time, I don’t feel like I’m spinning my wheels anymore. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. might not be the solution you’re looking for, but here a few more ideas for finding more time for your passion.
Treat your time like money
If you’ve done a lot of reading on personal finances, you know that one of the big ideas behind budgeting is telling your money what to do, down to the very last penny. If you’re finding it hard to find time to work on a side project, it might be the right moment to start treating your time the exact same way.
Using block scheduling, divide your day into 30-minute segments. Begin filling those blocks with the things you have to do like work and sleep. Once you’ve finished that up, look at what’s left and schedule in time for your project. You may only have an hour or two each week, but you’d be surprised just how much you can accomplish with a couple hours of focused work time. If you’re not familiar with the concept of time-blocking, the idea is to devote each hour or half hour of your day to a specific task, I learned how to do this from a tutorial written by a fellow freelancer, and I have used both pen and paper and Trello to make it happen.
Take a social media fast
Before you skip this paragraph, dismissing this idea entirely, hear me out. These days, your average user is spending about two hours a day on social media. Because the time we spend on social media is often a few minutes here and there, it’s hard to believe it takes up so much of our time. The truth is, a social media fast could be the key to finding more time in your schedule. This month, I took an entire week off of all social media platforms. Not only did I find more time for writing, I read two books that week and generally felt less anxious and rushed.
Join a support group
Once a month, I meet a small group of women who all share a common goal of spending more time on our passion projects. During our hour together, we drink tea and coffee and share our wins from the last month. Then, during the second half of our meeting, we talk about our struggles when it comes to productivity and scheduling and help each other brainstorm new ideas for making the most of our time. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but if you don’t have anyone in your life who shares your goals, check out Meetup to see if a support group already exists in your area.
I once heard an interview with author and speaker Bob Goff where he shared that every Thursday he tries to quit something. Sometimes, he quits something as life-changing as a job, but he often gives up habits or obligations that are holding him back from devoting his time to things he feels called to do. You may not be up for quitting something once a week, but it isn’t a bad idea to take a close look at how you’re spending your time and consider giving something up. Are you devoting a lot of time to something that isn’t all that important to you? If you can let it go, or even take a break for a short time, you can find more time in your schedule for pursuing your passion.
Originally published on April 11, 2017.