We all have goals. Some might be career orientated, others may involve learning a new hobby or reigniting an old one.
It can sometimes be hard to achieve them. Maybe you're too busy ("Down time? What's that?") or find it difficult to get started. Perhaps motivation becomes a problem after you get started.
The excuses stop now — you can find time if you really want something to happen. And we're here to help.
This may seem redundant. But I mean really plan it. Down to the minute details.
Before you can start using your down time to hit your targets — you should use it outline your plan of attack. Write down everything you're going to need to be successful, the challenges or roadblocks you'll face, fiscal requirements, a realistic timeline. One of the most popular methods at the moment are Bullet Journals.
There are even apps and sites that can help you with this:
For more on planning:
- 10 Simple Time And Energy Investments You Can Make In Yourself
- The Bullet Journal, Minus The Hype, Is Actually A Really Good Planner
- Organise Your Tasks Before You Worry About Your Ability To Focus
Burn Your Boats
Legend has it that when Alexander the Great landed in Persia in 334BC, he ordered his men to burn their boats. He stated that they would sail home on Persian ships, or die.
The same strategy is outlined in Sun Tzu's The Art of War and was employed by Hernán Cortés when he arrived in Mexico in 1519.
We'll never know if the history books are accurate on these accounts. But regardless, the takeaway is inspiring and relevant to our own lives.
This means removing your safety nets. The theory is that if you have an out, you won't give your goal your all. Making failure more painful, or unthinkable, is one hell of a motivator.
Now we're not suggesting doing anything silly liking putting yourself in debt. But there are still low key steps you can take — like finding ways to commit to your goals or having someone else hold you accountable.
For a real world example — I spent years on my L plates. It wasn't until I booked a driving test with a two week buffer that I really committed to getting my hours up. I had to work hard out of tactical necessity — and it paid off.
For more on motivation:
- How To Motivate Yourself To Actually Start That Passion Project
- Pick A Side Hustle That Complements Your Career Goals
- Seven Methods To Help You Stay Focused
- How To Create And Succeed At Personal Goals In The Coming Year
Create A Physical Space
Achieving your goals means making room for it in your life both mentally and physically.
Having a tangible space for it in your home makes it real and will heighten the chance that you will stick to it.
If you're introducing a new (or old) hobby, dedicate an area to it. Make it yours. This is now the space where you will create, grow and learn.
Although this list may vary, depending on what you're trying to achieve, here are some ideas for supplies
- A comfortable chair
- Tools and supplies (especially if you're doing something artistic)
- Laptop or exercise books
- Power — chargers, extension cords and powerboards
- Some personal touches to make it your own
If you're limited on space, get creative with a small section — or even a corner — of your house. Utilise clever storage solutions such floating shelves and stackable drawers or boxes.
Try to keep your area as tidy as possible. Whether you're planning your own side business, learning a language or doing something artistic — clutter can be distracting and negatively impact the creative process.
For more on space:
Prioritise and Schedule
Introducing an extra thing into your life can seem impossible, especially if you're already stretched thin.
Now is the time to prioritise. Is there anything you're currently committed to that can be cut out? If there's something you don't enjoy and isn't obligatory — get rid of it. It's also worth taking a look at what tasks can be streamlined or made more efficient to save time.
For example, I love my slow cooker. I can throw in all of my ingredients in the morning and dinner is then ready to serve when I get home. This saves a stack of time and energy.
I'll also try to complete smaller tasks during down time — such as checking emails and indulging my crippling social media addiction at the train station, or even in the bathroom.
If you respond well to regimentation, try scheduling time for your hobby or project. Treat it like a meeting or a KPI by booking yourself out in your calendar or organiser. You've now committed yourself to that time and goal.
If you're really short on time, or if you find motivation difficult, you might find the Pomodoro Technique beneficial. It's effective and only requires 25 minutes of your time!
For more on prioritising and scheduling:
- The Pomodoro Technique Can Supercharge Work And Study In 30 Minutes
- The Science Behind Why Scheduling Improves Your Life
- How To Prioritise When Everything Is Important
Become An Early Riser
Some of the most successful people in the world — from CEOS to politicians — are up before the sun is. Michelle Obama gets up at 4:30am. Richard Branson is out of bed by 5:45am. These people can get more accomplished before they walk into the office than most of us manage in an entire day.
And not all of it is about work — they also use this time to exercise, connect with their families, and even indulge in their side projects and hobbies. They recognise that the way they approach the morning sets the tone for the rest of their day.
Getting up in the dark can be a big ask, especially if you're not a morning person. But that extra time is so beneficial. Not only will you have more hours to utilise — you'll be using your brain when its at its freshest and most active.
It can be so easy to put off projects, side hustles and hobbies of an evening because you're too exhausted from your day. If you're serious about getting things done — try getting that time back in the morning.
For more on rising early: