At some point in your life, you’ll hear the saying: “We all have the same 24 hours in a day.” Those words are true, and I think about them often. I feel like I do ok managing my time, but it’s not uncommon to hear others say there’s too much to do and they don’t know when they’ll get things done. So, I want to share my approach.
How much time is 24 Hours, really?
The first thing that I always keep in mind with that statement is that 24 hours isn’t really what we think it is. Everyone has to factor in sleep and restroom breaks. Most people have to factor in work time vs. free time when they’re awake. Some people have to consider kids and family time. The list goes on.
So, what does 24 hours really look like for YOU? You have to know the answer to this question before you can “find” any time.
Using myself as an example, I’m a single dude – no kids or pets – reasonable income – and I’m lucky enough to work from home in the current climate. At a minimum, I could literally adhere to the whole 8:8:8 rule of sleeping 8 hours, working 8 hours, and living my life 8 hours. Some people literally see this as a perfectly balanced day.
I mix things up a bit more than that, but that’s for another section. The whole point here is to acknowledge that you need to know what 24 hours really means to you personally and recognize that it’s different for everybody.
What does your day generally look like?
While some people actually do have days that vary wildly from moment-to-moment, many of us live out a lot of moments of routine. There’s nothing wrong with that routine, and in fact – it’s a strength.
I’ll talk to those with a routine first and illustrate what I’m trying to help you get at looking at my schedule.
I try to wake up before I have to check in for work
I typically start my workday around 9 – 9:30 AM
I try to eat lunch between noon – 1:30 PM
I end my workday at 6 PM no matter what for the sake of balance
I (fitness) train a friend after work for about 1.5 hours on Tuesday & Thursday (start time may vary)
The rest of my time is mine
I (fitness) train that same friend for about 1.5 hours on Saturday & Sunday
The rest of my time is mine
Nothing super-specific – just a general overview of how my time is NORMALLY broken out. You need a grasp on this to see where your free time could be – even if it’s at a super high level. Again, totally acknowledging here that someone with more responsibilities (e.g. kids, family, pets, etc.) will want to factor in that important time to be there for those who need you.
For people without a routine – your breakout might (understandably) look a lot less structured, so you may want to focus on calling out “sacred times” for yourself in the day instead of a routine. Something more along the lines of…
Find 3 hours a day of “me time”
15 minute Yoga breaks a day when I can
Have an adventure each weekend
Get at least 6 hours of sleep a night
The rest is indefinite – but read a book when I can
And if that’s all you can muster — great. But we not have some mental outline of timing in our heads.
How do you pick what to focus on?
This is the art-side of this whole thing. I have talked about other more specific steps to time management on this blog before, but this one isn’t as specific because it relies on two factors that are always in flux:
What matters to you most right now?
What habits do you want to feed?
Thinking of those questions based on RIGHT NOW, take a few minutes to answer those personal questions for you.
The answers can be anything! For some, it’ll be a personal skill. For others, it’ll be family. Careers, relationships, goals – the world is your oyster in how you answer those questions. And guess what? It is totally fine if your answers change over time — they’re supposed to.
My answers at the moment are things like: Working out, creating content, finding happiness.
I know – lame – but that’s what I care about right now & they’re intentionally flexible as hell. I said that I wanted to workout — but I didn’t say how. I said that I wanted to create content — but I didn’t say what. I said that I wanted to find happiness — but what’s happiness?
All that I’m saying is DO YOU as you answer those two questions.
Where do you find the time?
This is where you smush things together. You have three key ingredients:
You have an understanding of what 24 hours is to you, so you can set some realistic plans in motion based on expectations specifically catered to YOUR time.
You have an idea of what your day (or goals in a day) typically look like.
You know what you want to focus on.
Now all that you have to do is consider things in reverse. Seriously.
Take what you want to focus more on, and think about how much time you want to allot to those things.
Move on to your daily goal and find the spaces that get you closest to the time you want to put in. This is the meatiest part, but it can be fun & you can iterate here as much as you need to.
I know that I wanted to focus on fitness, content, and happiness.
So – I workout for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours in the mornings before work now & I also still workout a bit when I’m training my friend (Fitness). I try to write a little for my blog during my lunch breaks, and if that takes me a day or two — whatever. I also try to get a YouTube video recorded each weekend. And I think I’m about to add sketching back into the regular rotation on Friday and Saturday nights because I find that I’m most creative in the wee hours of the night/morning (Creating Content). Lastly – I watch Anime, movies, read, or hang out with friends with whatever time I have left (Happiness). Other than that I meditate from time-to-time and stay open to adventure as it presents itself.
I don’t sweat anything because this is pretty much all that I WANT to do with the time that I have. I only have my version of 24 hours. So I sleep, do what I have to do to eat (and hopefully find some fulfillment in that), and keep my own goals in my mind as I float through the leisure time of my day.
For some, this will involve waking up earlier in the morning on some days. For others, you may have to cut back on a few things as you really consider what matters to you and what things you’d like to get done with the time you have on our beautiful mudball floating through space.
Your mileage may vary with this approach, but like I said in the title — this is an art, not a science.
I’m curious how others approach finding time to do stuff they want to do? If you have any cool tips, please share them in the comment section below.