We all wish we had more time. We tell ourselves that we don’t have enough time in the day to do what we want, or to even do what we should.
It’s a struggle for me.
I imagine it’s a struggle for you, too.
It might seem especially hard for you if you’ve already got a job you don’t like, you have a family you’re trying to raise, and you’ve got other obligations within the community that you’re trying to fulfill.
I get it.
I have five kids. I am active in my church community. And I have a job that keeps me busy every single day.
So it can be difficult to find time to do the things you want to do, especially when they don’t fit into one of the categories above that are already taking up plenty of your time.
It took me a while, but I finally came up with some solutions and techniques that have helped me.
Maybe they’ll help you.
I warn you, though, some of them might be unconventional. They might seem counterintuitive. But they work for me.
And you won’t know if they work for you unless you try them out yourself.
Stop Making To-Do Lists
Let’s go ahead and start with one of the more radical suggestions.
I used to be a fantastic at making lists.
I’d make a list of everything I needed to do, where I needed to be, what I needed to buy, who I needed to talk to.
I even made lists of my lists!
There was a problem, though.
I never crossed off most of the things on my list.
I never got to them.
It was like making the list was good enough to where I didn’t even need to do the items on my list.
It’s a similar phenomenon to someone that sets goals and decides to tell the whole world (or anyone, really) about the goal.
The mere act of telling someone about the goal makes a person feel good enough to where they are less inclined to work on the goal because they’ve already been socially validated.
Psychology has experimented on this numerous times and found it to be true.
Listen to what Derek Sivers has to say:
So I stopped making to-do lists.
And I’ve found that I now get more done that I did when I had lists telling me what I needed to do.
Make a List
But I lied.
It’s true that I stopped making to do lists for my everyday activities. However, I do have one list. One list that I use every single day. It never changes.
It’s a list of 10 things.
And I got the idea from James Altucher.
It’s my must-do list.
This is a list of things that I have to do every single day.
The list doesn’t change because it is the same things every day.
Here’s my list:
- Read something inspirational
- Play my harmonica
- Study a foreign language
- Be positive
- Express gratitude
- Do a good turn
- Write down 10 ideas
- Get rid of at least one thing
Your list is going to be different than mine, as it should be. You have different priorities and things that you want to accomplish.
And your list will change over time as your interests change.
Take my #10 for example.
It’s been only in the past few weeks that I’ve really started to think about my “stuff” and realize that I had too much of it.
So I’ve started to get rid of things. To free myself one thing at a time each day.
But don’t just copy my list. Make it your own.
Find what drives you every day and do that. Maybe your must do list is only going to be one thing.
That’s OK, because you will be doing what you want to do, which is the one thing you have to do.
Take Care of Yourself
You have to take care of yourself before you are able to take care of anyone else.
You might be able to put others first for a while, but eventually you’ll go crazy.
Neglecting your own emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health while trying to help others first will only destroy you and your ability to help others.
Exercise every day so you have the physical strength to serve others.
Be inspired every day so that you can be inspired to help others.
Take care of yourself mentally and spiritually so that you have the emotional strength to deal with life… stress, problems, setbacks, successes, challenges.
When I forget about my own health and neglect it, my life starts to spiral out of control. I can feel myself tensing up, losing control, fretting about time.
But when I take control of myself first, and put those things first in my life…
- physical health
- mental health
- emotional health
- spiritual health
…then I recognize time for what it is. I have more time to devote to myself and more time to devote to others. Because I’m focusing on what’s important. Not on the trivial.
Get Rid of Distractions
They come in all forms.
There are so many ways to be distracted that it’s no wonder we’re all neurotic.
We can spend 2 minutes on something without feeling like we need to move to something else.
Some of that comes because we feel we have to get too much stuff done. We’re focused too much on our to-do list, and not enough on our must-do list.
But another problem (a bigger one) is that we have a disease.
And it’s a real one that has the ability to destroy our focus and put us on the path of eternal time-wasting.
It’s the fear of missing out.
It even has it own acronym: FOMO.
Look it up, it’s everywhere.
We all suffer from this. As individuals, as parents, as translators trying to run a business.
We constantly check social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, who know what else.
If we don’t check the latest on what’s happening in the lives of others, we are afraid we’re going to miss something. So we constantly refresh, and refresh, and refresh. And we can’t focus on anything meaningful for more than two minutes before we have to refresh Twitter again.
How do you feel if you leave your phone at home one morning on your way to work?
You have to return home to get it because you’re afraid you might miss something important. Any by something important, you’re really talking about new posts on Instagram from people you barely know.
I hate phone cameras and our obsessiveness of recording our family’s life on it all the time. They are too accessible, they’re too easy to pull out of our pockets, and using them makes it easy for us to miss reality.
I have five boys so I go to a lot of school functions.
Plays, concerts, sports contests, performances.
What I’m constantly amazed at is the camera phenomenon.
You show up to a performance and 3/4 of the audience (parents), the first thing they do, is pull out their phones and start recording a crappy video on their cell phone of the reality happening in front of their own eyes.
Why are they video taping the performance? Nine times out of ten they will not watch that video. It’s too long to share on social media. It’s terrible quality and watching it back on a phone is ridiculous.
But they’re afraid that if they don’t record it, they’ll miss it later.
But guess what? They’re missing the performance in the first place that’s taking place right in front of them!!!
Our eyes/minds are the greatest camera we have. And yet we’re sacrificing the use of them to record videos of our kid on a phone that we’ll end up deleting six months from now. And then we won’t even have the memory of the performance because we watched it not with our eyes, but through the 3.5 screen of our iPhone.
You want a successful translation business. So don’t waste your time on distractions.
Don’t try to maximize your Twitter followers before you even get your first client.
Don’t worry about your logo for your website when you don’t even have any content.
Logos, website designs, and your business card will change. But worrying about that stuff before your actual business is off the ground is a waste of time at best and, at worst, a distraction that will keep you from spending time on what you want.
These are only a few things that I’ve found that have really helped me organize my life and make sure that I have enough time in a day to do the things I want to do. Not the things I think I should do because society says I should. Not the things I think other people want me to do.
The things I that I know will make me into the person I want to become.
Want to know the best way to spend your time? Read my book.