It’s all very well setting goals and deciding to follow your dreams, but what if you’re just too busy? It would have been easier if you’d just decided, right out of school, that you were an artist, and had set up your life accordingly. Life would have been far simpler if you’d just stayed out of debt in the first place, rather than trying to make a mammoth effort to get out of debt now. Whatever your big goals are, it can feel overwhelming trying to squeeze them into an already-full life.
How To Find Time To Follow Your Dreams
1. Get up a bit earlier.
I know, this one’s boring and a little bit hypocritical since I’ve already told you that in this season of my life I’ll prioritise sleep over almost everything. Even just adding fifteen minutes to your day could help you to make major inroads into something you want to do.
The trick, and actually, this is the trick with all of these tips, is to know how you’re going to use that time.
Waking up fifteen minutes earlier and heading straight to Facebook probably won’t help you publish a recipe book. Using that time to plan which recipes you’ll test out at the weekend might well be useful though.
2. Utilise waiting time.
Find things that you can do while you’re waiting in line at the Post Office, waiting for the kettle to boil, or waiting for your child to come out of school.
Those little pockets of time might not feel like much, but they’ll soon add up. If you’re trying to build a Pinterest profile for your business, use that time to pin a couple of relevant pins. If writing’s your thing, then keep a document running in Evernote to track tiny snippets of ideas as they come up.
3. Make a list of five-minute tasks.
This one is kind of similar to the above. Maintain a list of tasks you can do that will create forward movement on your goals, and that can be accomplished in five minutes or less.
There’s always time to squeeze five minutes out of your day.
Think how much more productive you’ll feel if you’ve spent five minutes investigating online courses to help you learn a new skill than if you’d spent the same time gossiping with the smokers outside your office.
Commit to using five minutes to follow your dreams each day, and see where it takes you.
4. Say no to something.
If you can keep your goals front and centre in your mind, then it becomes easier to evaluate activities based on whether they’re taking you towards your goal or away from them. When you’re asked to take on extra responsibility at your child’s school, try to curb that automatic ‘yes’. Instead, think about whether it’s really worth taking time away from the things you’re working towards. If PTA responsibilities fit in with your hopes and dreams, then go for it, if not, then it’s time for a polite but firm ‘no’.
5. Get focused – just work on one goal at a time.
You can change the world.
You can follow your dreams.
It’s going to work best if you just pick one thing at a time.
Of course it’s great to be really clear about your hopes and dreams in all areas of your life, but you’ll see results far more quickly if you concentrate your actions on one thing. Especially when you’re starting out.
Build one new habit that’s moving you towards your goals. Get that habit firmly established before you try to introduce anything else.
6. Start small.
Begin with a tiny habit. Pick something that’s so small that you’re guaranteed success.
- Write ten words every day.
- Pay £1 off one of your debts.
- Do one yoga pose each morning.
You can increase your commitment as you get more comfortable with these new ways of doing things, but make your starting point so small that it barely even seems worthwhile. By doing this you’ll reduce the pushback you get from your brain telling you that something’s too hard or that you don’t have time.
7. Break it down.
If your goal is to run a marathon, then it’s easy to decide that you don’t have time. Who has time to train for a marathon? Especially when you can’t run for a bus without getting out of breath.
The trick here is to break your goals down into smaller milestones.
Set a goal to be able to run a mile without stopping. Or decide that you’re going to lose 1% of your bodyweight.
Celebrate those milestones as you follow your dreams, shout your successes from the rooftops.
8. Commit to doing something every day.
It’s easier to remember to do something every day than it is to remember to do it three times a week.
I’m trying to make some real progress with this blog, and my current goal is to write 500 words a day. The plan is to build that habit, develop some consistency, and just make it a part of my everyday routine.
Whatever you’re trying to do, make a commitment to yourself, or to someone else if you’re an Obliger, that you’ll take action Every Day. It’s pretty hard not to see progress when you’re truly working on something on a daily basis.
9. Reduce the time you spend on something.
If you vacuum every day for ten minutes, then see what happens if you only vacuum three times a week. I’m willing to bet it won’t make much difference to the state of your floors, but it will gain you 40 minutes a week to do with as you please.
If you spend that 40 minutes on making a detailed meal plan and grocery list, focusing on keeping within your budget, then you can free up some extra money to add to your house deposit savings.
Spend it on tending the vegetable garden you’ve always wanted to plant.
Whatever you do, reduce the time you spend on something and replace it with time spent on something more important, something that’s going to take you closer to your goals.
10. Be mindful about how you spend your time.
Are you guilty of grabbing your phone to ‘just quickly check’ something before you settle to work on the important stuff?
How often does that quick check turn into twenty minutes?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be checking social media, or devouring chapter after chapter of a book. I am saying that you need to be mindful of how you spend your time.
It’s those ‘lost’ minutes that you need to reclaim if you want to make serious headway on your biggest scariest goals.
One of my favourite tools for this is Forest. It’s an app that rewards you for not using your phone, by planting a digital forest for you. Forest also plants real trees when you spend virtual coins within the app.
11. Batch something.
Find more time by batching something that’s normally a time-suck.
Batch cooking can be an easy way to free up time during the week. It’s a simple concept, you spend a bit of extra time on one day, and make meals for several others all in one go. This can be as simple as deciding to double up on a slow cooker meal once or twice a week, or it can be more involved.
If you’re spending upwards of an hour making dinner each night, then having slow-cooker dump bags ready to go could potentially gain you 45 minutes every evening. Make sure to use that time for something worthwhile.
12. Use time blocking.
Time blocking can be a really powerful time management tool.
If you think you don’t have time to follow your dreams, try putting them front and centre in your schedule.
A block schedule forces you to be realistic about how long things take, and it also forces you to take a sometimes-uncomfortable overview of your week. When you look at your schedule and realise that laundry’s getting ten hours of your week while writing gets only the crumbs, it can make it easier to choose differently.
13. Start your day off right.
If this big goal is something you really want to achieve, then you need to make it happen.
As the day goes on, more and more people and things will have the chance to derail you. If there’s something really important to you, then make sure you do it FIRST.
Even if you can only take a few minutes at the start of your day to focus on taking specific action towards your dreams, do it. Once you’ve checked in with yourself in this way, you’re more likely to come back and take further action later in the day.
You might consider a 5-minute workout at the beginning of the day, just as a touchstone to keep you tuned into your goal to get stronger and healthier. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have time to run in the mornings, that can come at any time of day, but keep your head in the game by doing something first thing.
14. Remove timewasting apps.
Whether it’s a game that sucks you in time after time, or a social media app that just keeps you scrolling, there’s probably something on your phone that’s damaging your productivity and stealing the time you could be using to follow your dreams.
Get ruthless. Remove things that aren’t really serving you, and replace them with something better.
Ditch Facebook and replace it with Pinterest so that you can keep on top of promoting your business throughout the day. Take Candy Crush off your phone, and spend the time reading blogs that will help you plant a successful garden.
15. Automate or delegate.
Find a task that you automate. A fortnightly online shop might give you a couple of extra hours compared to twice-weekly top-ups in your local supermarket. Yes, you still have to make the list and put it all away, but the minutes saved soon add up.
Alternatively, get something off your plate by delegating to someone else. This might involve hiring a cleaner to do a weekly deep-clean, or asking your husband to take responsibility for cleaning up the kitchen each night after dinner.
Be aware that there’s a bit of a learning curve with this kind of thing, and you’ll probably need to spend some time training the person to do things how you want them done, but keep your eyes on the prize of those future hours to spend on things that matter more.
If you’re feeling completely stuck and overwhelmed, I really recommend you pick up a copy of Mel Robbins’ book Stop Saying You’re Fine. It’s a great guide to getting unstuck in your life, pushing past fear, and taking action to get you to where you want to be.
No More Excuses.
So, you’re busted.
It’s no good saying you don’t have time to train for an ultra-run, establish a permaculture garden, renovate a vintage caravan, or whatever other dreams you’ve been harbouring.
I challenge you to put at least one of these tips into practice, take note of the time you’ve created, and put it to good use.