We easily get absorbed in our daily routine and end up complaining time is never enough to do what we want. From a single woman’s perspective, with a 9 to 5 job, it is about how to make time for engaging in activities that make me happy and fulfilled. While in other cases, priorities may be reordered by family duties and quality time with kids, single professionals can afford to be active and try out multiple hobbies after working hours. Yet many people complain they don’t have time and all they do is end up every day in a bar then crawl into bed only to wake up and repeat.
The lesson is if you don’t have time, make time! Here is how to make time for the things that matter to you:
- Make a list
Some people are obsessed with lists (ahem, I am one of them), but guess what?! Lists really work. Just the feeling of checking something off your list makes it better. Putting down goals or activities for your to-do list will give you a clearer view of what you really consider important to actually write down.
Think about New Year Resolutions. They are a list of goals for an entire year ahead. You can choose to list out bigger objectives or breakdown small activities that matter to you but get overlooked from your daily agenda.
As far as I am concerned, this is the biggest secret of all. Well, not that much of a secret now, but learning to prioritise will change everything.
For instance, if you have on your list “run every day for 10 minutes”, “finish last season of Sex and the City”, what will you prioritise? From a very rational perspective that some may call “overthinking”, I will consider this: if I start watching the series as soon as I get home, I know I will be dragged into watching episode after episode, so it will get dark outside, therefore I won’t go for a run anymore. Choice is now simple: I would go for a run first, feel fulfilled by completing already one activity on my list, then relax on the sofa and watch the movie.
Maybe prioritizing is the secret to making a little order in your social life activities, but commiting to these priorities is the most difficult and challenging part. Especially if you have a socially active life and you get ad-hoc invites to different events or hangouts.
I am not very good with spontaneity, because I like planning in advance and commiting to my agenda. That was why it is difficult for me to accept no for an answer or have someone change plans last minute.
The point is to be flexibile to some extent and be happy with your decisions, but if you choose to commit to an activity that makes you happy and wonder how to make time for it, you need to learn to say no to other invites. If I have already commited in my head that I go to a dancing lesson on a Wednesday, then I will say pass to after work drinks and follow my passion.
- Keep procrastination at a minimum level
Ideally, procrastination should be forbidden in order to make the most out of your time, but we are all humans and not robots and sometimes just crashing on the bed and watching crap Youtube is a dream come true. But when you plan out something and then find small things that distract you from what you have to do, then you need a mental slap.
I remember how I suddenly felt the urge to handwash my socks whenever I had to study for a test in school. I still find myself wandering the unknown paths of Pinterest or Youtube instead of actually writing a blog post (!). And then I argue with myself and feel guilty for it and start all over again with making a priority list and all the points above.
- Invest in your hobbies
I’m not talking about investing financial resources, but time. Ok, maybe sometimes money too if it means feeding a hobby that makes your heart skip a beat. I for one bought a keyboard when I moved to London just because I started taking piano lessons which I wanted to do ever since my grandma gave me a little toy wooden piano.
But what I’m trying to say is that hobbies are what really make us enjoy spare time. And if you feel that you don’t have spare time, you just need to find a new hobby and you will suddenly discover how to make time for what really matters.
I mentioned piano because I started the lessons only after I moved to London, when I realised I can actually organise my evenings and weekends in a much productive way. Not having too many acquaintances when I first moved here made me eager to network while chasing activities that made me happy.
I had been dancing back in Romania, but it was never constantly. When I found out about the salsa lessons that were in my area, I put that down in my agenda. The way it works for me is doing lessons every other week, it’s a balance of not getting bored and not forgetting the steps.
I started searching for a gym in my neighbourhood and joined the most convenient one during the winter, but I stopped my membership as soon as summer hit London and I discovered the joy of running in nearby parks or by the river. And it’s not a matter of how to make time if it only takes 20 minutes to go for a run, it’s about being motivated enough.
When I felt that weekends can be used for more than just chilling around, volunteering every other Saturday at a bookstore felt fulfilling. As selfish as it may be to do voluntary work because it make you feel good about yourself, if being egoist ends up helping others it is what they call a win-win situation.
What are your priorities? Remember if you know what really matters, you will learn how to make time.
Photo: Andrei Nedelea
T-shirt: Tommy Hilfiger