“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” —Earl Nightingale
Nothing happens by accident. If you want to work on your dream project, you have to make the time. If you’re ready to counter with, “I just don’t have the time!,” then it’s simply a matter of priorities.
I get asked all the time how I manage to get so much done and I’ve been a bit afraid to tackle this question because the truth is, I don’t have all the answers. All I can say is that if something is important enough to you, you will find a way.
As you carve out time to reach your goals, there will be plenty of downers along the way. You might have to give up a few things like your favorite TV shows. I unplugged my TV a year ago when I remodeled my room and have purposely left it that way. Sorry, Dr. Phil! Hear me out, though. If what you wanted was easy to achieve, everyone would be doing it.
And with that, after close to a decade of being a designer and blogger (both of which are extremely time consuming!), I’ve developed a few techniques to squeeze the most out of my days. Here we go…
5 Tips For Staying Accountable
1. Treat yourself as a client. Set aside chunks of time and write clear cut deadlines. You may have to get up an hour earlier every day, stay up later or spend your Sunday inside but this is the only way that you’ll see visible results. I’ve been working on four new digital offerings that are launching in 2016 and even though these are internal projects, I schedule calls and deadlines on my calendar just as I would any client project. If the week is too hectic, I push these projects to the weekend and complete them then. Time for your personal projects should be non-negotiable.
2. Write out a daily list. More importantly, add time limits next to each item. You’re on the clock for yourself. If you don’t set limits, you’ll take 5 times as long to get something done. Write down everything, including an allotted amount of time for social media. It’s true that a task will take as much time as you give it. If you have an hour to blog before work, then you’ll find a way to push that post live in time.
3. Keep a weekly calendar. If you can only see a day at a time, it’s more likely that you’ll over schedule yourself but having the full week in front of you makes it clear where you have open chunks of time. I personally write everything out on these Kikki K planner pads (how old school!) because seeing the list in front of me and crossing out each item keeps me accountable at all times.
4. Start with a few easy wins to build momentum. I know this is counterintuitive to what a lot of the experts say but I like a bit of a warm-up to a busy day. Crossing a few things off my list right away makes me feel accomplished and gets me excited to continue on to the bigger, harder items.
5. Define what your to-do list is helping you accomplish. This is a bit abstract but just hear me out. Think hard for a second: what is your big picture goal? Is your to-do list helping you to eventually leave your full-time job and work for yourself? Is it helping you become more fit by exercising regularly? Is it helping you earn extra income by completing client work? Once you know the answer, it’s easier to give it your all.
There you go. My 5 tips aren’t groundbreaking…but they work for me. The bottom line is that to work hard and get shit done, you have to determine what motivates you. Because really, motivation is EVERYTHING. Are you motivated to buy a new pair of shoes? Advance your career? Leave corporate America? Earn some extra money to take a swanky vacation? My motivation every day is to take great care of my clients, grow my business so that I have more stability, to carve out enough time to develop digital products so I can work less and spend more time with my family, and finally, to continually draw in my dream tribe of clients so that work feels fun and inspiring for everyone involved.
That’s a lot….but it’s what keeps me going, even on weekends when I’m sitting in my office scrolling through Instagram, feeling a severe case of #FOMO creeping in.
I’ve learned that if you can figure out what you’re working towards, the work you put in becomes worth it instead of feeling like a chore.
Okay, now it’s your turn: what are your tricks for making sure you have time to do the work?
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Photos: Erika Astrid.