Finding Time to Build For Yourself
I don’t want to be the guy who stands on a soapbox giving advice.
Rather, I want to be the person who shares what works and what doesn’t work for me as I figure things out on my own creative path.
Maybe you’ll find something that you should or shouldn’t apply to your own method of madness.
If you’re listening to the show then I’m taking a stab at the fact that you’re like me.
You want to build something, something that’s your own. Something you can be proud of and enjoy doing along the way.
Something you can leave behind for other people to enjoy.
Finding time to build for yourself can be difficult. Especially when you are building something for someone else full time with a day job or have kids and other commitments.
When you sign up you get an onboarding email question asking “What is your biggest struggle when pursuing your creativity?”
I love getting responses to this because it:
- lets me know I’m not alone with my certain demons like comparison and doubt.
- It lets me see reoccurring patterns and topics that I know will hit home.
- allows me to connect and engage directly with people like you.
Shane’s response was, “My biggest struggle is balancing the little time I have with a focus.”
This has been a repeating theme and deserves addressing as I know someone listening deals with the same thing.
To Shane’s credit, he works in IT for the day job but comes home and creates amazing custom wooden cutout lettering. I highly recommend you check out his Instagram at @Rustic_Overtones.
Thanks for this week’s topic Shane. Before I get into the show, if you want to influence the direction of an episode or get my newsletter designed to give you a mid-week creative boost, then join the team atPerspective-CollectiveTeam.com.
Let’s get into the show.
Balancing Your Free Time
If you’re listening to this show, you obviously want to build something for yourself, something on your own terms where you call the shots of what you create.
You want this so badly but maybe the day job or tending to your family makes it hard to find the time, motivation and energy to focus.
Maybe you’re unsure where to start or had little results in the past so you’re hesitant on where or how to invest your time.
I’ll admit, watching cat videos on YouTube or playing video games to escape in is quite tempting. Currently, I’ve been low key binging on Game of Thrones while I draw.
So here’s the question, how do you balance the little time you have with a focus?
By focus, I mean working on your own side project or even your own business.
While I can’t relate to having kids, I would say I’ve become pretty efficient in managing my time outside of the day job and husband duties to focus on Perspective-Collective.
Regardless of your commitments, here are 3 practical things I focus on each day that allows me to build something for myself:
- Focus on one thing to execute each day
- Plan my day the night before
- Kill distractions during work
1. One Thing Each Day
How often do you give yourself a massive, daunting to-do list of a million things and find yourself unsure where to start?
It’s like giving yourself the assignment to climb Mt. Everest. It’s easy to feel defeated before you start.
For me, I get stressed out and discouraged too easily if I feel I have to take on the world all at once.
Instead, I need to break things up into manageable chunks as it helps to be objective and realistic. This makes the game of building Perspective-Collective winnable and most importantly, enjoyable.
So what is it you’re working towards or trying to build in your rare spare time?
If you have that massive to-do list, what’s one thing on it that you can knock out today to get you started?
Knocking out one thing a day is progress.
Progress is addicting and when you string together a couple days you begin to build momentum.
A few days turn into a week, a week turns into a month, months turn into years.
The more progress you see, the more you find ways to create more time to invest.
2. Plan the Night Before
Are you a routine person or do you prefer to take life as it comes and react?
I used to be the one who would wing it and see what happens each day. Without a plan, I made minimal progress in a million directions.
While I can be a cluttered person, I thrive on the structure and knowing what my next move is going to be. Getting shit done and being productive is a high like no other and I’m always itching to get that fix.
If shit doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done in my world and it’ll sit on my to-do list.
That’s why at 9 pm each day, Siri reminds me to plan my next day which literally takes under 5 minutes.
I schedule open pockets of time in my Passion Planner to get that one thing finished whether it’s:
- before I go to work
- my lunch break
- my two 10 minute breaks
- when I get home from the gym after work
Without planning that one big thing during those times, my mind strays and I find myself mindlessly scrolling through social media.
One big thing a day for me could look like:
- Writing 1000 words for the podcast / blog
- Recording and editing a podcast episode
- Finishing the episode artwork
- Polishing and sending deliverables to a client
What could that one big thing a day look like for you?
What are those free pockets of time in a day that you aren’t taking advantage of?
I believe anyone can accomplish one thing a day with this approach and you don’t have to be as hyper-structured as I am to see the benefits.
3. Kill the Distractions
This may be the hardest one as we live in an era where we are wired to love distractions.
As a culture, we are addicted to notifications, emails, DMs, text messages, features on Instagram, etc.
I’m guilty of letting these distractions take me away from my work once in awhile, but it starts with being aware of what you’re doing.
If you are serious about building something for yourself, hold yourself accountable and kill the distractions.
Go into that scheduled pocket of time you planned the night before and get your shit done.
For me, there are a couple things I do to handle this I:
- turn off all notifications on my phone except for text messages.
- have do not disturb periods set on my phone from 9pm–7am so I can plan my night before and grind in the mornings.
- keep my writing app (or anything I’m working on) on full screen with my secondary screen off so I’m tunnel vision on the task at hand.
Really the only times I allow myself to be on social media while I work is when I’m sharing the process of a drawing on my Instagram stories.
Try to focus on getting into deep work and start off small by doing 20–30 minutes of uninterrupted, distraction free time.
Work your way up from there and shoot for an hour. Gradually add more time as it fits within your schedule.
If you want to dig deeper into working distraction-free I recommend checking out the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.
Find the Time
I get it, finding time to work on the things you want to isn’t always easy.
Rarely is it convenient and we are all experts at coming up with reasons why we can’t get to this or that today.
A lot of the time people say they lack the motivation even when they do have the time. I believe motivation comes from the act of doing and it’s hard to find the motivation if you only do things when they are convenient.
Be honest with yourself, you have pockets of time in a day even if they are 10-minute spurts.
Those moments are gold and you’re capable of knocking out a quick sketch, writing 200 words, recording video or audio on the go.
You don’t have to be hyper-structured, you just have to be intentional with the sacred time that you have.
You have what it takes to build something for yourself. Find the time and get to work.
Momentum and progress will find you.
- Break things up into manageable chunks as it helps to be objective and realistic.
- Knocking out one thing a day is progress.
- The more progress you see, the more you find ways to create more time to invest.
- If you are serious about building something for yourself, hold yourself accountable and kill the distractions.
- It’s hard to find the motivation if you only do things when they are convenient.