Time. We never seem to have enough of it. But we can learn to prioritize our tasks and use the time we have to our advantage. I’ll save you the habits and routines of highly successful people post and just tell you what I’ve done to give myself more time to accomplish the dreams and goals I have set for myself. What follows is what I’ve learned in the last six months.
1. Waking Up Earlier
Before my boyfriend joined the Air Force, we would get up at 5 and go to the gym in our community. After he joined, I stopped doing that. It’s not that I hate working out, I actually love it (once I get started). I got lazy and told myself I would do it later in the day.
When I moved in with my co-worker, I started thinking about my schedule and what I wanted. I told myself I would wake up at 5 and workout, but when the alarm rang I realized that wasn’t going to happen and didn’t know what was I thinking when I thought it would be a great idea. It’s not that I don’t like waking up at 5; I like to start my mornings not feeling like I have to rush into something—I like to take my time with a cup of coffee and tell the sandman goodbye.
I then decided to get up at 6:15 and push all the things I wanted to accomplish until after work. That wasn’t working either. Then, the heavens opened up and, like a bolt of lightening, the idea flashed into my mind that I could wake up at 5 and write and push working out and everything else I wanted to get done that day until after I got home from work.
I’m happy to say, during the month of February, I’ve been more productive than I was in January and there is still a week left in the month.
Getting up an hour earlier than I normally would allows me to get my writing or editing out of the way, gives me a sense of accomplishment, and allows me to focus on my other goals without having to sacrifice time. Of course, waking up earlier means my bedtime is earlier, but being able to wake up and get a goal out of the way before anyone else is up or before I have to get ready to go to work for someone else’s dream, gives me time I thought I didn’t have back.
2. Watching Television on the Weekends
I’m not productive 100% of the time; sometimes I want to escape into a good show for a bit. But I am mindful of the time I have during the week versus the time I have on the weekends. After I get home from work, I have a little over five hours before my bedtime to accomplish other goals (i.e. working out, working on different projects).
I started pushing my television shows to the weekend, when I have more time, last year. If you think about it, I spend 8 hours at work, 30 minutes getting ready for work, 30 minutes driving to work, and about 15 minutes driving home—that’s over 9 hours of my day spent doing things for someone else (and yes, to make money). I don’t have time during the workweek to waste the 5 hours I have after work to watch an hour or more of television each day.
I know I have the time during the weekends to accomplish all my goals and make time for entertainment. (An added bonus is I always have something to look forward to during my weekends).
3. Treating YouTube Like Television
Ah, the joys of watching people on the internet. In a previous blog post, I touched on the topic of time and how I found myself replacing television time during the week with YouTube videos. I had a long day of work and I just want to relax is what I would tell myself. That relaxation time started creeping into my night and before I knew it I would have accomplished nothing.
Then, inspiration flashed across my mind again: realizing I could add videos of creators I enjoy to the ‘Watch Later’ playlist and watch them later, either on the weekend or while I’m doing other menial tasks (i.e. folding clothes, meal prepping, eating dinner). I’ve given myself space to be more productive while not feeling like all I do is work and for me it’s a win-win.
4. Having a Routine (But Staying Flexible)
I covered earlier that I get up at 5 during the week, but let’s now dive into my basic routine/schedule for the day:
5 AM – Wake/Bathroom/Make coffee
5:15-5:30 – Actually wake up,/Turn on laptop?/Plan day
5:30-6:30 – Write
6:30-7 – Breakfast (something quick, meal-prepped on Sunday)
7-7:30ish – Get ready for work
7:30-4:15 – Commute & work
4:15-4:30 – Relax/Get changed into workout clothes
4:30-5 – Workout*
5-5:30 – Make dinner
5:30-6 – Eat dinner/Watch Good Mythical Morning/More (YouTube)
6-7ish – Wash dishes/Prep coffee & lunch/Brush teeth/Shower
7-715ish – Duolingo to learn Hawaiian
715-9 – Edit/Write/Something to do with words
9-9:30 – Read a book
9:30ish – Lights out for bed
That’s what I try to do anyway. Some days it takes me a couple minutes to get out of bed and some days I don’t plan the day. Some days I don’t start working out until 4:40 and that pushes everything else back a bit. Sometimes I don’t actually stop editing at 8 and push learning a new language and the guitar to another day. For the past month, however, this is the schedule that I’ve come up with that works for me.
Waking up in the morning and getting my writing done also helps to free up the pressure of having so much on my plate after work and I know, no matter what, I have accomplished at least one thing that day.
Keep in mind, this is only my schedule Monday through Friday. On the weekends I’m more flexible with my time, staying up a bit later or waking up later. I try to make it out of bed by 8 and make sure I accomplish everything I need/want to get accomplished (grocery shopping, more writing/editing, washing and putting away clothes, meal prep, writing this blog, learning to play the guitar).
By giving myself an hour in the morning and freeing up my time after work, I feel I’ve been able to accomplish in the first two months of 2020 more than I accomplished in the last six months of 2019. I’ve completed the first draft of my novel, started editing short stories I wrote a few years ago, and no longer feel there’s not enough time to get everything I want to get done.
I’m using the time I have during the week and on the weekend to make sure I am taking steps to every day to get closer to my goals and dreams.
*Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday = Strength &/or Cardio
*Thursday & Sunday = Rest/Yoga
**I want to start having hobbies that bring me joy. Although I want to start learning the guitar and Hawaiian every day, I need to be more disciplined with ending my editing time when I set it (but I get so focused on the task and want to complete it). I didn’t dust of my guitar last week, but I hope to get back on it this week. Wish me luck!