Monday, September 17, 2012

On Finding Time

Free Stock Images: Times up. Image: 112269I've seen a lot of blog posts lately about finding time to do all the stuff we want to do.

When someone mentions one of their accomplishments like crafting, running, cooking, writing--anything that is not a bare essential, I often hear other people exclaim, "Oh! I wish I had time for that!"

The fact is, we all have the same amount of time. The only difference is how we allocate it.

I believe it's all about priorities. Stephen Covey used to do an object lesson where he would ask a person to fill a jar full of sand and rocks. Usually, the person couldn't make all the material fit into the jar because they added the sand first. Covey would take the jar and first put in the big stuff--the rocks, and then the medium stuff--the pebbles, and then let the sand filter in. A lot more fit into the jar that way.

And so it is with life. First, get the big stuff in place--the things that feel more like essentials than priorities: working for a living, taking care of our families and home, school and church and such.

For some, this big stuff takes up a huge amount of time, and it varies with the different stages of life--all my kids are in school all day so that has opened up more time for me.

Then decide which of the medium things are most important to you and fit those into your schedule. For me, this includes my writing time, some down time (which is something that I value and need), some exercise time, reading time, and so forth.

Last, try to fit in the little things, the stuff you care least about when you step back and look at your life objectively. Not all will be able to fit into your life. I've given up many hobbies and interests--even some so-called life-long dreams--to make time for writing.

I find that when people say, "Oh, I wish I had time for that." what they really mean is, "That is not a high priority in my life so I gave it up, even though I still miss it sometimes."

Finding time for everything is almost impossible and the need to be objective is absolute.

If you find that you never seem to have time for a particular activity that you claim to love, perhaps it is because you don't love it as much as you thought you did. Maybe giving it up for a better, higher priority is something to consider.

Specifically, writing. Although the idea of being a published author appeals to you, if you find you never have the time to write, maybe you love the idea of writing more than the actual act of writing. When you land a contract or an agent, the pressure increases ten-fold--so you'd better make sure you're ready to invest lots and lots and lots of time to writing.

Just something to consider. What are your thoughts?


  1. i just wrote up a post on this very thing, but it's saved in draft mode. I agree with all you've said. We all spend our time differently, it just depends on where your priorities lie.

  2. Definitely yes. Also, it's weird that you can do something you love, like writing or blogging, but the second people start paying you for it, things become different. You always have to keep that perspective to keep the joy in your hobbies, even if you're doing it for money.

  3. I took one of Stephen Covey's courses and some time management courses years ago, and learned how to prevent some procrastination. I like to make a short list when I've got lots to do.

    I prioritize my writing time, just like fitness, another thing that requires a commitment.

  4. One of my least favorite questions is "how do you find the time to...?" I often get asked how I find time to read and it's hard to respond politely. The obvious reason is that I love it, so it's the first thing I pick to do if I have my choice of activities. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it's what I do. Cleaning/cooking/exercising etc. often go by the wayside because I choose to read. Really anyone who has seen my house knows how I find time to read. I love the part where you said what they really mean is that it isn't a priority, so they gave it up for something else. I try really hard not to ask people how they find time to do stuff. If I think about it I can figure out that they probably lay around a lot less than I do!

    Anyway, thanks for the tips on fitting everything in. It really is a struggle to get all the essential stuff in along with the fun stuff.

  5. Also, I just read your "Me in real life" info and I learned a lot of new stuff about you! Sounds like you were nearly in a situation that they could have based "Taken" on. And how did I not know about the snake tooth thing?

  6. I'm very time poor, who isn't? I struggle managing 5 kids and everything else that comes after them. My family is my priority, but I need time to read and write if I want them to have a happy mother :-)

    I don't watch TV and I hardly ever go out (but that's because of the baby more than the writing). My problem isn't finding time to write, but to edit and polish something. You know what I'm talking about (hello google docs on which I haven't shared anything for a long time!).

  7. Yep. You have to prioritize what's really important to you and then MAKE time to do those things.