Stop telling yourself that you don’t have the time to achieve your goals.
Whatever your goals are–starting a YouTube channel, running a 10K, learning to code, and so on–if you’re not working toward achieving them, you probably have a long list of excuses which purportedly explain why you’re still in stand-by mode. And lack of time is very likely to be at the top of that list.
If so, you need to stop using a lack of time as an excuse and start making the time to pursue what you want. But how do you find time when you’re incredibly busy? By reading this post and applying the tips that you like best.
Below you’ll find 20 ways to make time to achieve your goals.
1. Use Your Mornings. Start getting up earlier and use that time to work on your goals — even if you have to use the first ten minutes to clear away brain fog. Mornings are a great time to work on your goals for all of the following reasons:
- It’s the time when you’re least likely to be interrupted — by your kids, your neighbors, your boss, and so on.
- You’re well-rested after a full night’s sleep.
- Since it’s the start of the day, nothing has happened yet that could get you off track.
2. Use Your Nights. Go to bed forty minutes later and work on your goals at night. If you find that you’re too tired at night to muster up the willpower to work on your goals, start taking a twenty-minute power nap in the afternoon.
3. Use Your Lunch Hour. Pass up invitations from colleagues to join them for lunch. Instead, pack your lunch, eat at your desk, and use your lunch hour to write your novel, learn to draw, take an online course, or take some step toward the achievement of your goals.
4. Use Your Commute. Work on your goals during your commute. Do the following:
- Write on the train.
- Listen to a French course as you drive to work.
- Work on your weight-loss goal by biking to your place of employment.
The possibilities are endless. Instead of thinking of your commute as wasted time, think of it as your goal achievement time.
5. Cut Out One Activity. Take a good hard look at how you’re spending your time. What activity can you cut out of your schedule in order to make time so that you can work on your goals?
The most obvious activities to cut out are watching TV, playing games online, and hanging out on the internet — watching cat videos, scrolling through your Twitter stream, reading celebrity news, and so on.
6. Make Your Most Important Goal a Priority. Sometimes, in order to do something of high value—such as working on your most important goal—, you have to give up something of lower value. What you’re giving up may be important to you—such as your book club, or your PTA volunteering hours-, but it’s not as important as your goal, so you give it up.
After all, you can’t find the time to do it all, but you can find the time to do what’s most important to you.
7. Become a Time Warrior. In his book Time Warrior, Steve Chandler uses the image of a swordsman in order to show his readers how to make time to do what is most important to them. He explains that you have to pull out your sword ahead of you and ruthlessly carve out the time that you need to create, exercise, learn new skills, and so on.
Once you’ve carved out the time that you need, take your sword to all circumstances that try to get in your way.
8. Block Out the Time. If there’s a goal that you really want to achieve, then it’s worth blocking out the time in your day-to-day life that’s necessary to achieve it. Take out your schedule and identify when you’re going to work on your goal — for example, Monday at 10:00 a.m.
By scheduling time to work on your goal, you know exactly when you’ll be working on it, instead of just leaving it up to chance.
9. Use Scraps of Time. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to have a large chunk of time to work on your goals. If all you can carve out are fifteen minutes here and there throughout the day, use that time. Do the following:
- Try to get to meetings a few minutes early; use the time while you’re waiting for others to get there to work on your goals.
- Work on your goals during your coffee break.
- Work on your goals while you wait for your kid to finish with soccer practice.
Depending on your goal, even a minute here and there can be productive. Are you standing in line at the bank? Take out your list of the 25 most common French verbs and read through it.
10. Set a Quota. Instead of focusing on the amount of time that you need to work on your goal, focus on achieving a daily quota. Here are three examples:
- Instead of telling yourself that you need to do 45 minutes of daily cardio, tell yourself that you need to take 10,000 steps throughout the day.
- Instead of telling yourself that you need to write for an hour each day, set the quota of writing 750 words a day.
- Instead of telling yourself that you need to study French for half-an-hour a day, tell yourself that you have to learn 15 new words in French every day.
Each day make sure that you meet your quota. Some days will be easier than others. On the slow days make peace with the fact that you’re going to leave some stuff on your to do list undone.
11. Set Very Small Goals. If you’re insanely busy, make your goal quota very small — such as writing 250 words a day, or learning five new French words a day. But work on your goal every day.
12. Be a Weekend Warrior. You’ve heard of weekend warriors: people who don’t get much exercise during the week but spend their weekends jogging, hiking, hitting the gym to lift weights, and so on. If your weekdays are so hectic that you can’t possibly work on your goals from Monday to Friday, then be a weekend warrior when it comes to achieving your goals.
13. Disappear. If you’re spending a lot of your time on other people—chatting with friends on the phone, catching up with neighbors at the pharmacy, going to parties you would rather not attend, and so on–, practice the art of disappearing. And just how does one disappear?
Here are three ways:
- Before accepting a party invitation, stop and remind yourself what parties are like. Then, politely decline.
- If you run into an acquaintance while grocery shopping, politely nod and smile, and continue to move forward with your cart. Forward motion is your friend when you’re trying to disappear.
- Always have an escape route ready: “I’m so sorry I have to rush off, but I’m late for . . .”, “I’m running to. . .”, “I better get home before . . .” You get the picture.
14. Negotiate for Time. Look for ways to negotiate for time:
- Can you negotiate with your employer that you’ll work longer hours Monday to Thursday, and then take Fridays off ?
- Can you negotiate with your spouse that you’ll be in charge of morning chores—such as getting the kids ready for school–, and they’ll be in charge of evening chores—such as clearing the table and washing the dishes?
- Can you make a carpooling agreement with other parents in your neighborhood?
Make time by negotiating for it.
15. Don’t Let Your Emotions Get In the Way. A lot of people waste tons of time dealing with their moods and emotions. If your emotions get in the way when you’re trying to work on your goals, force yourself to work on them anyway. Once you start working on your goal, it will get rid of all those moods you’re having.
16. Shoot Ducks. Vickie Taylor recommends that you make time to write by shooting ducks. Of course, the process of shooting ducks works for any goal, not just writing. Here’s what to do:
- Print a picture of a duck and make several copies.
- On each duck, write an excuse that you use explaining why you don’t have time to work on your goals.
- Put your ducks up on your refrigerator.
- Look at each excuse and find a way to shoot each one down.
Look at the following example:
- Excuse: I don’t have time to write because I have too many errands to run.
- Shoot it down: I can buy in bulk, patronize merchants that are closer to where I live (the five-mile radius rule), and find a supermarket that delivers.
Once you’ve shot down one excuse, start looking for ways to shoot down the next one.
17. Work On Your Psychological Discipline. Keep in mind that making time to work on your goals is, to a large extent, about psychological discipline. A lot of the reasons that we use to explain why we don’t have time to work on our goals are just excuses that we’re using to avoid the hard work of writing, exercising, learning a new skill, and so on.
After all, cleaning the fridge is easy; creating an eBook that others will want to buy is hard.
You need to develop the psychological discipline to work on your goals, even if your inner critic is screaming at the top of its lungs that the laundry needs to be done, the carpet needs cleaning, or the cat’s litter box needs to be scooped, right this minute.
18. Repeat a Mantra. Make the following your new mantra: “Winners work on their goals; everyone else makes excuses.”
19. Focus. It’s not so much about how much time you have to work on your goals, as it is about the quality of your goal-achievement time. That is, when you’re working on your goals, are you completely focused on the task, or are you trying to answer emails and catch up on Twitter as you write?
Work on your goals with laser-like focus.
20. Give Yourself Permission to Work on Your Goals. When the world around us is swirling in chaos, we often feel that taking the time to work on our goals is a luxury that we can’t indulge in at the moment. However, working on your dreams isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Write yourself a permission slip if you need to; but get to work on your goals.
If there’s a goal that’s really important to you, don’t use lack of time as an excuse not to get to work on it. Live your best life by making time to work on your goals. The 20 tips above are a great place to start.
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