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Time Management Strategies, Techniques, and Tips: How to Find Time For Your Hobbies and Personal Goals

Updated on May 13, 2013
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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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.

6 Time Management Tips to Increase Productivity

  • 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.

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.

10 Effective Time Management Tips

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    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, that's great!

    • everythingdazzles profile image

      Janelle 

      5 years ago from Houston

      Very helpful!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      It's great to hear that, pinto! Thanks.

      Thanks so much, Audrey!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      5 years ago from California

      You are just so inspiring!!!

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      In today's fast paced life, this article is a must read to strike a balance between professional and personal life. Well done.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're welcome! Yes, for sure. Start small and work from there.

    • Lovelovemeloveme profile image

      Lovelovemeloveme 

      6 years ago from Cindee's Land

      thanks for the hub.

      eekkk..it's soo much easier said than done though. huhuhu (crying sounds)

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Tricia! Yep, that's the trick. :)

    • Tricia Ward profile image

      Tricia Ward 

      6 years ago from Scotland

      Great tips and strategies now I only have to start applying them ;)

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Maria, best of luck to you.

      iefox, yes, for sure.

      That's great, MPG! I hope that people are able to benefit from this.

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I was taught time management by my first boss and it was the best thing he could have taught me. Many of the tips you mention we given to me at a time I really needed them so I think many younger people would benefit from reading this hub. Voted up and useful.

    • iefox5 profile image

      iefox5 

      6 years ago

      Reasonable time management helps us save much time.

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      I believe I have the worst time management and there are so much that I want to do... thanks for this. voted up

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Cyndi, since I started working from home, having a schedule for myself with a breakdown of daily and weekly tasks and long term goals has helped a lot. I suffer from the same problem of wanting to do it all, which just isn't realistic. You have to prioritize and to allow time off in your schedule when you can get away from the home and work routines.

      bridalletter, I'm glad that you're finding methods for organization that work for you. There is no single system that works for everyone. It's important to build your own organization and routine. Best of luck!

      Vicki, I'm definitely busier than I was when I was working full-time, too. I'm a tough boss, I suppose. I don't ever feel like I have it all together with my schedule, but it does keep getting easier.

      prairieprincess, thanks! I certainly don't have all the answers, but I believe that everyone can find time to pursue their hobbies and personal goals if they put their minds to it.

      Billionaire, that accountability factor can make a huge difference for a lot of people. Staying disciplined with Internet browsing helps a lot of people get more productive time in their days.

    • Billionaire4545 profile image

      Billionaire4545 

      6 years ago

      Keeping a list on the time spent on everything helps a lot. One thing i cant cut on is internet browsing #1habit.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Rose, this is excellent advice. It really is hard to find time to do it all, and I admire your accomplishments. You are giving me hope that it is possible to get more done. I find time management is something I have to work at, continually, to try to tweak it. Your story is very inspirational in knowing that it can be done! Thanks for a great article.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I'm with CC--I'm busier than when I was working full-time. There's so much to do, so much I need to do and want to do. I have to somehow be more efficient--and schedule things. Great hub!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 

      6 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience. I look back and wonder how I did so many things at once. I tend to overwhelm myself, but I find I am getting better at cutting out things or finding something that takes less time to do. I sometimes pick one day for creating things and do other tasks another day. I keep a big paper chart with things to do, subjects to write about and what I want to create. I more visual tool is useful to keep yourself on track,

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Very motivational. Yeah, I might be doing this stuff full-time, but I feel like I'm accomplishing only a little bit more than when I was working full-time and I work every day for hours on end. Hmm...I need a better schedule. I find it's hard to "schedule" writing a hub, though. I aim for one every other day and work on Zazzle and work on my blog. But I want to work on my memoir, find time to make bread, cook better meals from scratch (lots of our meals are from scratch, but they're 'quick'), do more homesteading stuff, mountain bike more...egads. This is my problem: there are SO MANY wonderful things to do. I try to do a little bit of it all. Haha. I'm a nut. And ADD or something. But this hub is great and I know exactly what I need to work on: scheduling. Now...to figure out how to go about it....

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Sueswan! Have you thought about using a timer? I know people who will set 10-15 time increments for things like social media.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 

      6 years ago

      Excellent tips and advice.

      Moderation is the key. I find I loose track of time when I am online. Have to work on that.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're welcome! I'm so glad that this is helpful for you.

    • pr0phet profile image

      pr0phet 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for this fantastic Hub. This is extremely helpful as I have a problem with time management.

      I'll put these tips into play immediately :) thanks once again.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! Good luck!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for these helpful tips. I'm not a great multi-tasker but the queen of excuses! LOL....With your wonderful advice, hopefully I'll make less excuses and be much more productive. :)

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks ladies!

      Edi, I'm definitely a list maker, too. It keeps me from getting overwhelmed. I have really made an effort this year to cut back on my random browsing online and use Internet time productively. It's tough, but I get a lot more done that way.

      Deb, I have been trying to walk 3-4 times per week since we moved to Milwaukee. I'm hoping to pick up an indoor activity in the winter, but I like to get out as much as I can while the weather is nice.

    • profile image

      storybeader 

      7 years ago

      great tips. I think, when the weather cools, I will make it a priority to walk after work. Even though I'd rather walk in the morning, my work schedule just doesn't fit with it. Thanks for the advice, {:-D

    • profile image

      Edi 

      7 years ago

      Great post Rose! I make a ToDo list everyday with my goals for the day. And I'm a multi-tasker as well. When I'm really crunched for time, cutting out computer time is always the first thing.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! Often I still spend too much time Internet browsing, too.

    • suvitharoja profile image

      suvitharoja 

      7 years ago from India

      Great post. Yes, it is very important to manage your time if you want to achieve your goals. I try to write 5 articles a day but get carried away with many things. Internet browsing is one thing which takes lot of our time.

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