The eternal question: how can you create more time in your day? Imagine your day-to-day schedule as if it was a game of Tetris. Each activity and task is represented by a designated shape. While you can move the pieces around and rotate their position, each one is necessary. To ensure all the activities are done, each shape needs to fit perfectly in alignment with the others. The challenge becomes more of a balancing act. Do you have the agility to adjust for the unexpected? Or does your routine leave you without margin for error? Reflect on how your days typically shape up. If we’re sticking with the Tetris theme, then no pun intended.
Your time spent on personal health such as sleeping or grooming is the long straight line shape. Work hours are the T-shaped piece. Eating and drinking is your basic square shape. Non-work phone calls, emails and chores are the J-shaped pieces. The Z-shape symbolizes your civic and religious responsibilities. The S-shape represents your fitness and recreational activities. That leaves only the L-shape – leisure time. The chunk of time first to get sacrificed if anything unexpected comes up.
Time is precious, but leisure time is priceless.
This is the bucket of time we can never seem to get enough of. From binge-watching our favorite movies to reading to traveling. Chances are your favorite activities fall into this category. If you’re like the many entrepreneurs searching for ways to pursue a new venture, it’s also the most likely area to find the time.
Like the classic game of Tetris, life is unpredictable and chaotic. You plan the day and hope each chunk of time falls perfectly into place. The goal is almost always to have your careful planning result in a clear to-do list. You know the feeling. You go to bed knowing you’ve sufficiently kicked-butt and taken name. There’s nothing better. It’s like in Tetris when you finally get the missing piece to clear 5 rows together in unison. They disappear forever. And even though you know there is still work in the future, you made real progress.
There’s always a plot twist.
As in Tetris, life tends to speed up when you get comfortable. Your plans never quite line up the way that you hope. There’s that email you weren’t expecting or that errand that took too long. Plus, your time buckets are dependent on each other. For example, if you had a miserable night of sleep, chances are you’re not bringing your A-game to the rest of the day. It is amazing how one minor change in the plan can become a downward spiral. Before you know it the rows of shapes have created gaps where nothing seems to fit. The only thing you can do is hold on for dear life as you get closer and closer to your breaking point. Then it happens. You reach the ceiling. There’s no more room. Game over.
If you’re pursuing a side hustle, passion project or new startup idea, you will need to find ways to create more of it. It’s more than a challenge. It’s mission impossible. To help, we’re going to give you three actionable tips you can start doing today. These actions will give you the freedom to focus your time where you desire.
Tip One: Create small chunks of time by letting some things go.
What are you willing to give up or adjust? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 employed men and women spent over two hours each weekday on leisure activities. Imagine cutting your Netflix binge-watching by 30 minutes Monday through Friday. That change alone gives you at least 2.5 hours of new time that you can now dedicate to developing your business idea. Shortening leisure time is easy-pickings. Is there an opportunity to find time elsewhere? Reduce your commute time to work or meal prep over the weekend to cut down on cooking time. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you do now. Decline meetings you don’t need to be a part of. The opportunity to take back and reclaim your time is everywhere. Figure out the small things you can let go of to create a significant block of time.
Tip Two: Always, always, always keep a notebook with you.
Have you ever been in a meeting or relaxing in bed and think of the best idea ever? The best ideas reveal themselves when we have no way to capture them. Instead, we try to hold on to the brilliant idea only to forget them a minute later. In a matter of seconds, you’ve let your big idea fade away into thin air. The good news is that the fix is easier than you may think. Grab a notebook and bring it with you like you would a phone or pair of keys. Great ideas come in micro-moments so you need to be ready at all times. This notebook allows you to capture the most out of your micro-moments of inspiration. Use this tool to document everything from new ideas to questions to sketches. You never know when you will circle back to something you jotted down in the past.
Tip Three: Schedule meetings with yourself.
Schedule a block of time dedicated to you and your business idea. Create an invite and send it to yourself. It is that easy. The visual block of time will prevent you from overcommitting yourself. This is time away from distractions. This is how you create time in your day to build a business – by carving out and prioritizing space to focus. Away from chores and errands. This time is for you to dedicate focus and effort toward building your business. For more productivity exercises, check out the wheelhouse workbooks located on the store page of our website.
If you want to read more of our Entrepreneur Tips, please check them out here!
– Trevor Lightfoot