Over that last few weeks, a number of my clients have been telling me of their plans for 2017. What they are going to change, what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. It has been very interesting hearing about what people want to do and what they want to change. Their enthusiasm, excitement and determination is admirable. Unfortunately, most of them are going to fail, and they are going to fail for the very same reason.
The problem is not with the plans themselves, the problem is with the time needed to make these plans become a reality. After all, as human beings we have an amazing ability to change almost every part of our lives, learn almost anything and achieve great things if we put our minds to it. But the one resource needed to achieve these great things, is the one resource we humans are inherently terrible at using and that is time.
We only have twenty-four hours a day, and we have a lot of stuff to fit in to those twenty-four hours every day. From basics such as eating and sleeping to work related stuff which, for most people, requires at least eight of those twenty-four hours, five days a week. Then on top of that we have our family and friends and our personal activities such as our hobbies and interests. Once you have taken all that in to account there really is not much time left to start anything new.
So the real question is: how are you going to find the time to start that new programme you want to start?
Among my clients, I heard all sorts of plans for 2017, one wants to learn a new language, another wants to take up yoga and another wants to learn how to do presentations better. All of these plans require a time commitment, and my clients do not have much time left to give to starting new activities. Some have kids and want to spend more time with them as well as start a new hobby. Others have spent much of 2016 complaining about how much work they have to do and not having any time to spend with their friends. I am sure many of you reading this article have also found there is not enough time in each day to do all the things you want to do.
So how do you find the time to start something new in 2017?
Well, the first thing to do is to take a look at your life and see how you are spending your time. If I am being honest with myself, I know I spend too much time on a weekend watching Netflix or Amazon Prime. Saturday night in particular is bad as I often find myself binge watching episodes of House or Elementary. Another area I know I am bad at is spending too much time catching up on news and Facebook posts in an evening after dinner. Often I can be ’surfing’ for an hour. Identifying where you are spending your time is the first step in finding the time to start something new.
Once you have identified where you are spending your time, the next step is to decide what you are willing to sacrifice to make time for your plans. One plan I have for 2017 is to create a series of online courses on productivity. I know I am going to need around four hours a week to develop these courses and I identified Saturday night would be a good time to record the videos. I am willing to sacrifice two hours on a Saturday evening to do the recording and to find a further two hours during the week to do the editing. To find those four hours, I will have to watch less Netflix and Amazon Prime and read less news. It is not going to be a big sacrifice as I will not have to stop watching TV altogether and I know that it is perfectly possible to make that sacrifice.
So to make your plans and goals happen in 2017, you do need to know where you are spending time, what you are willing to sacrifice to make your goals happen and to make a commitment to yourself to use that time for your plans and goals.
Starting an exercise programme, reading more books or learning to swim all require time. If you truly want to make these things happen, then you are going to have to find the time to do them, and then make a commitment to yourself to do it. The planning is not difficult. Finding the time and making the sacrifice is the hard part.
When I was younger, I remember my mother telling me “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” She was telling me I wanted more food on my plate than I could eat. And that is true about time for most of us today. Things we want to do are often much more time consuming than we have time for. That is unless we are willing to make sacrifices to the things that are consuming our time. You do not have to sacrifice many things. If we are being honest with ourselves, we probably do spend too much time on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. We perhaps do watch a little too much TV. Cutting down on these to find time to do the things we want to do such as learn a new language, take up yoga or become better at making and delivering presentations is perfectly possible. We just need to be aware of time and we need to make a commitment to ourselves.
So, whatever your plans are for a new, better you in 2017, work out how much time you are going to need to make those plans happen and then decide what you are willing to sacrifice to make them happen. You can do it, we all can.
Good luck and a very happy new year.
Carl Pullein is the author of Your Digital Life: Everything you need to know to get your life organised and put technology to work for you, a book about how to get yourself organised in the twenty-first century