I’m the first to admit I don’t always use my time to the full extent I can, but I try. As a dad of two kids in various activities, and husband of a working spouse, my time is valuable and seems to disappear way to quickly. I’m chained to my desk for too long, have a roundtrip commute of about 45 minutes, and have shared family duties – so from about 6:20 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. most hours are accounted for. However, there is time in there that is available, and many don’t take advantage. For example, probably 2-3 days a week I’m able to sneak in a workout at lunch. I put an old weight bench in a utility storage room, and have showers at work, so am fortunate in that regard. I can do a 4 mile run, or do a weight or kettlebell workout, eat lunch at my desk, and basically absorb this time into my day with no impacts elsewhere.
Other people choose to wake up early, and while I’m not a morning person, is something that does work. I hang out on occasion in the Kindle Boards Writer’s Cafe (people who are self-pubbed, or are writing to one day be published), and many people there who have busy lives choose to get up an hour earlier than everyone else and spend that time crafting their book. Having an hour of quiet time with a cup of coffee, getting something written seems to work well for many people. For me, I did my writing at night after the kids were in bed, or on the weekends. But I cut out time for me. Holly often wakes up early to work out, and I have too, so no matter what happens in your day (and lack of motivation on the back end is common) you’ve got your time in to be healthy.
When the homework is done, and the battle to get the children in bed has been won, what do most people do in the evenings? I’d say web-surfing or social media sink or TV watching is number one. Nothing wrong with that, but what about carving out time for a hobby, or to simply read on a new topic, or learn about personal finance, or health, or learn (or relearn) and instrument, or think of ways to challenge your kids beyond their standard schooling, or think of a side way to make a little extra money while helping someone? I understand the need to relax and decompress after a stressful day, but so often this becomes the norm, and not many people become awesome by sitting on the couch. There’s even many free college on-line courses to broaden your horizons on any subject imaginable.
I challenge you all, in the new year here, to make small changes, set a goal to learn something new or improve yourself in some way, and start finding a little time to make that happen. I promise that in your heart of hearts, after that tough workout, or completion of a hobby milestone, or whatever, you are going to feel way more accomplished and happy versus being a typical person floating through this life.
Here are things I’m working on (many moving parts) and finding time to make happen (slowly, it seems, but still progressing):
- Working with my brother to start podcasting, getting equipment and knowledge to make it happen
- Life Coaching – studying educational materials, currently working with a single client, setting up things to take it to Phase B (soon).
- As I mentioned, working to lose some winter fat and get fitter, also rehabbing my shoulder
- Studying technical items to improve chances of interviewing well and finding a new job
- Spending more time teaching my kids new cool things. We spent a Saturday afternoon taking apart an old tube television just because. We’ve been learning about and building some cool circuit projects from this Elenco Snap Circuits Physics Kit (easy to do, many examples of “experiments” and teaches kids some basics on what various circuitry).
- Writing and researching (when the muse is there, recently it’s been tough)
- Learning a new language (in the car on the commute, using library CDs)
I’m a grinder more than having natural ability in anything, so long ago I learned I needed to take the long-view on accomplishing goals. Finding rewards in projects isn’t what I would consider work, and can be a big part of self-improvement and finding happiness in a process. Winter can be hard as many want to go into hibernation, but if you make some small steps in the right direction, you’ll come out in the spring sunshine a better person. Now go and find that extra hour to make it happen!