A few years ago, I used to say I didn’t have time to do anything besides work. However, I was always running behind no matter how much I worked.
I was a bit jealous of all the people who worked for themselves and still had time to pursue their hobbies. I wanted that level of freedom for myself.
Fast forward to the present day, and I still work a lot, but I have time to pursue my hobbies, and I have a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. It took a lot of effort, but I finally did it.
I didn’t find a magical way to create more hours in my day. I still have the same 24 hours as everyone else.
And before you wonder what secret productivity hack I used, let me tell you: I just realized that I was lying to myself.
I told myself that I didn’t have time to do anything extra, so work took most of my waking hours.
But that is a fallacy. Each time you say “I don’t have time to do something”; you are just saying that it’s not a priority for you.
If something is not a priority, you will procrastinate and forget about it.
Deciding something is a priority for you means that you will schedule it first before you even think about adding anything else. You also need to take into account the amount of energy you will need to tackle that particular task.
It is challenging when you come from a workaholic background as I do. You need to create a whole new system of habits and behaviors.
Making a huge change to your already established patterns is a quick way to break your willpower and return to square one. Instead, I started experimenting with prioritizing small chunks of time for these new behaviors.
We have this crazy idea that you have to devote a lot of time to get things done. But the truth is, you don’t have to work 40 hours straight to create results. You can work on your projects or hobbies just 10 minutes every day and you will see faster progress.
I know it sounds crazy, but this is more manageable than trying to carve a lot of time in your busy schedule.
Sustainable growth is all about creating consistency. It’s far more important to develop the right habits to achieve your goals than to tackle massive amounts of tasks in just one session.
This methodology also takes into account your willpower and energy levels.
It’s easier to sit and work on your project 20 to 30 minutes every day than trying to stay focused and energized through 12-hour marathon style work sessions. Those small steps will become finished projects, new habits or positive changes in your life.
When I started to get into yoga, I didn’t try to do an hour-long routine straight away; I didn’t even try for 20 minutes. I kept them below 10 minutes of manageable poses. That way I started to feel a sense of accomplishment each time I finished.
I soon began to notice small but consistent improvements. My back aches were almost gone, and I had a tiny bit of extra flexibility. Also, I didn’t have any injuries or discomfort.
I built momentum, and soon I was doing 20-minute sessions with more challenging poses. Now it’s a daily habit that has allowed me to have more range of motion, more energy, and more joy each morning.
It’s easy to try this method yourself.
Prioritize your projects, work, habits, and hobbies. This step is critical as it’s easier to build your willpower muscle if you are working on things that will give you the most benefit.
Once you have your priorities straight, create a to-do list of 3 things you want to tackle during the day, make them small, something that you can finish in less than an hour. If you have big projects, then break them down to fit these criteria.
Now, just tackle those three things. Focus on each task until you complete it and then record it so you can check your progress and stay motivated. I use a small notebook as a journal to record all the tasks I have completed.
Once you complete the three things, you can call it a day and do whatever you want. Or if you feel like it, you can start tackling more stuff. It’s your choice, it depends on the day or the amount of energy you have, but either way, celebrate your progress.
In my first week of trying this method, I noticed a huge spike in my productivity and I still had time on my hands to do whatever I wanted.
But, there were still some tasks that I would put off or not prioritize that were important but not something that I had to do immediately. Projects and ideas that I wanted to pursue, but that I wasn’t prioritizing.
My road to a sustainable growth still needed another step. I had to understand the cost of inaction. But for now, prioritize your projects, select those three tasks, and start reaching your dreams step by step.