Time Management Strategies, Techniques, and Tips: How to Find Time For Your Hobbies and Personal Goals
Over the past ten years, I've gotten a lot of questions about how I find time for my hobbies and personal goals. I'll give you a few examples. I wrote my second novel (approximately 60,000 words) and finished two counted cross-stitch kits (each of which took a minimum of 9 months) while I was getting my undergraduate degree. I opened my Etsy shop while I was teaching full time and getting my master's degree. Since I left dorm life in 2005, I've been cooking the majority of my own meals for me and my husband from scratch, most of which has been while I was working full time. People are frequently astonished by these accomplishments.
I'm not Superwoman. I can't do it all. I do require a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep. I also know that some months or even years are really tough. For example, in June of 2011, my husband and I sold our condo, closed on our new house, and moved from Iowa City to Milwaukee. I'm sure that it's not a surprise that I did not write a lot of hubs, make a lot of jewelry, or get much of anything done online during most of the month. Don't beat yourself up if you are in the middle of or are approaching an uncharacteristically busy time in your life. Your life will get more sane again soon.
With that being said, when you are at a "normal" point in your life, I still don't have any magic tips that will suddenly give you time to accomplish everything that you've ever wanted to do. However, I do have some tips that will make this process a little easier for you. If you've ever wanted to accomplish something major, such as writing a novel or running a marathon, hopefully this will get you on your way. These goals are important and you DO have the time for them.
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- Make it a priority. If you do not make a priority, it will be that much easier to keep pushing it back because other things will always be more important. If you have difficulty letting go of other things in your life for your new goal or project, make a schedule. For example, make a schedule for cleaning and other household tasks. If you split them up throughout the month, you won't get overwhelmed every week.
- Consider your schedule. What is the best time to work on your new project? Consider what time of day you will enjoy working on it as well. For example, if you are not a morning person, setting a goal to wake up early and run may not be realistic. See if you can fit in an evening run instead. There is no single right way to make time for everything. You have to figure out what will work best for you.
- Start small. Your goal may be small, but if you've set a larger goal, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. If you're overwhelmed, you're more likely to give up easily. Most large projects do take time to accomplish. Start with small time increments. For example, set aside 15-20 minutes each day to work on something for yourself. Hopefully you will be able to increase the time for there or find time for multiple segments throughout the day. If not, you'll still have this time. Having some time is better than no time.
- Stop making excuses. Otherwise it will never happen. You can always find something in your life that is potentially stopping you from accomplishing what you want. Full time jobs, graduate school, long commutes, children...the list never ends. No matter where you are in your life, you should have some time for yourself. Think about the previously mentioned topic. Do you have 15 minutes a day? If not, can you find 15 minutes in your schedule 3 or 4 times each week? That's all it takes to get started.
Setting yearly goals for myself helps me stay focused on my priorities.
How to Set and Achieve any Goal you Have in Your Life
- Find support. There are many ways to do this. You can work with a friend, join a challenge, or join a group in your community or online. For example, the 30 Day Challenge on HubPages is a perfect means for conquering one or more of your goals on this site. The Blogging Business Artisans team that I'm a member of has a monthly themed challenge. These challenges push my creative skills to new levels and often inspire me to create pieces that I might not create otherwise.
Whatever your interest in, there is a person, group, or challenge out there that will fit your hobby or goal. Having this support provides accountability and can generally make things more fun.
- Set goals for yourself. As I've said previously, accomplishing large goals does take time. It often takes planning and discipline, too. If you've set a goal, break it down into steps. Be realistic about how long it will take and what you want to accomplish each week or month.
Don't be afraid to revise your goals as you go. It may be harder to break your hobby down into smaller steps, but consider what you want to do with it. For example, if you've just taken up crocheting and you have a couple complicated patterns that you would like to learn, think about the skills that you will need to master before you can attempt them.
- Cut back on TV and random Internet browsing. One of my life mottoes is "everything in moderation." There is nothing wrong with watching TV or browsing on the Internet. However, these things should not get in the way of the bigger projects that you want to accomplish in life.
Pick a couple TV programs that you want to watch everyday. If you can watch them with a DVR or online (Hulu, Netflix, etc.) with less or no commercials, even better. Watch your programs and then turn the TV off. Make your Internet time more productive. You can certainly take time to catch up with people on Facebook or Twitter, but do not let these activities consume hours of each day. Stay focused online, accomplish what you want, and then move on with your day.
Personally, I like to get something done while I watch TV, especially if I am watching a rerun. I know that not everyone wants to do this, but if you enjoy multitasking, I urge you to consider it. I frequently work on jewelry while I watch TV. If you don't want to work on a hobby, think about smaller tasks that you can get done, such as straightening up the room or writing out a grocery list. Getting smaller tasks out of the way now will allow more time for hobbies and goals later.
- Don't give up. Life will always throw challenges at you and some things may take a lot longer to accomplish than you'd thought. Don't be afraid to take a break once in a while. But don't give up entirely. Personal accomplishments can make a world of difference for your self-esteem and general outlook on life.
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