Thursday, April 28, 2016

Finding the Time to Work on Goals

This post is intended to outline my new strategy that I’ve decided to try in an attempt to use my time better. My hope is that it will not only stand to hold me accountable to stick to the plan better, but that it might also provide y’all with some time management ideas and motivation.

The Problem

When I began this blog I set the goal to make at least one post each week. Since writing is not my strong point and I am already juggling a full-time job and the domestic responsibilities that come with being married with two young boys I knew that this goal was going to be a bit of a stretch. This is one reason that I try to keep my posts rather short, because they take less time to write, but also because I rarely enjoy reading long articles myself. Because my goal for this blog was to be a way to share a hobby of mine and not as a method to supplement our income I haven’t been too good at carving out time to spend on writing.

For way of examination, this is how my typical day looks:
     5:40 AM – Alarm wakes me from slumber
     6:15 AM – Leave the house to commute to work
     7:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Work
     12:00 PM – 12:45 PM – Lunch Break
     12:45 PM – 4:45 PM – Work
     4:45 PM – 5:30 PM – Drive home
     5:30 PM – 7:30 PM – Help with diner, eat with family, play with boys, do the needed yard work, etc.
     7:30 PM – 8:15 PM – Get the boys ready for bed (ie. Peed, brushed, PJs, read scriptures, prayers, tucked in)
     8:15 PM – 9:00 PM-ish – Shower, write in journal, read scriptures personally
     9:00 PM – 10:00 PM-ish – Companionship scripture reading with my wife then other needed discussions
     10:00 PM – 5:40 AM – Try to get as much sleep as possible because I don’t function well on less than 8 hours of sleep per night

On Fridays I only have to work from 7:00 AM – 11:00 AM since we work 9 hour days every other week day so I get home at around 11:45 PM. Subsequently, Friday afternoon is when I have had the most success finding the time to write, during the boys’ nap time after lunch. But other than that hour or so most of the time on Friday and all day Saturday is spent trying to catch up on the never ending yard work, house work, community/social commitments, and being a parent to the boys. Then on Sunday’s I get up just past 5:00 AM to spend 6 hours at the church attending Bishopric meetings, Ward Council meeting, and 3 hours of church meeting from 6:00 AM – 12:00 PM, then I have to take a nap after getting home and devote the rest of the time to being with the family (ie. calling all of our parents, taking the boys on walks, watching church movies, playing games, etc.)

Long story short, I have a hard time justifying pulling myself away from my family to work on this blog, even if all we are doing is cuddling on the couch watching an old Disney movie that I’ve seen 100 times. I believe that my first commitment is to them, so I try to make sure to give them all the time I can.

As a result, I have ended up with a list of article ideas that I want to write about but haven’t gotten around to starting.

The Opportunity

This desire to make progress on articles while not having to take away time from my family led me to looking at my day to see where I might be able to write without having to miss out on anything else. And that’s when I decided that I could find more productive ways to use my lunch break at work.

Four times a week I take 45 minutes to “eat” lunch, but since I always bring my lunch to work with me it never takes me that long so I usually end up with at least 30 minutes of extra time. Depending on the day I then use that extra 30 minutes to sit around talking, reading financial blogs, playing waste of time games, checking the financial markets, or browsing Zillow. So 90% of that time is spent doing things that don’t actually matter.

So, by making my lunch breaks more productive I should have the opportunity to gain 2-3 hours per week of time to work on writing without my family/home life ever noticing the difference.

The Resolve

My new goal now is to use my lunch breaks everyday to do nothing but eat and write. While I can’t use my office computer to access my blog and post on it, I can use this time to write the article then email it to myself in a word document and take a few minutes to post an already completed article when I get home.

I expect that by tapping into this 2-3 hours that I should be able to complete a minimum of 1 article each week and make additional progress on the larger articles that I would like to work on as well.

During my first lunch break of writing I was ablet to write 562 unedited words for this article. On Day 2 I was able to add additional 474 unedited words, then edit the article, and get it ready to post for when I got home. I’d say that this is already working out well.

Your Turn
All of us feel like we are too busy for something. We have a list of things to do that we feel bad about not being able to get around to and are constantly telling ourselves that one day, when we have the time, we’ll do it. But sometimes we have to make the time. I think that basically everyone has at least some wiggle room in their day that they can use more effectively to make progress on their goals, most people already know where that time is and know that they should be using it more effectively but just haven’t started yet. The hard part is finding the resolve to step away from that activity that you know is not value added and get to work on something that might be more needful but less entertaining.

My time was lunch, when is your time?