How I Find Time For Project Work Every Day

Project Work Every Day

One of the common things that I am asked is how I manage to get my project work done while juggling a job, family, house, hobbies and volunteer commitments. Someone jokingly said that I must have more hours in the day than the rest of the population, but I can assure you that isn’t the case.

What I do have is a drive to not wait for the mythical “someday” to work on things that matter to me.

Someday Might As Well Be Never

Someday rarely comes. I have seen that people who put off their dreams and projects for “someday” rarely start working on them. Someday is when they won’t have so many demands on their time, the children will be raised, the job will have stabilized, the house will be under control, and more.

The truth about that “someday” is that even though those life areas may be different, the rest of life will have shifted too and something will come in to take the free time.

Free time doesn’t magically appear. One has to seek it out and use it.

I Always Scrambled

I always tried to find the magic free time.

I tried shorting myself on sleep. This left me cranky and unable to do much at all.

I tried multitasking. This left things undone, or unattended. My infamous blackened jambalaya was the result of this type of time seeking.

I tried using every spare minute of time. This left me with sore shoulders from carrying supporting material with me wherever I went in the hopes I would scratch out a few minutes.

I thought about giving up. But I also knew that if I waited until a “better time” in my life I would not get it done.

It all comes down to a very simple saying:

One day? Or day one?

Time Blocking To The Rescue

It wasn’t until I started getting serious about time blocking that I was able to find chunks of time to work on my projects. It may not be hours or days at a single go, but the blocks were long enough that I could get things done without sacrificing other important things.

Early Morning

I am not a morning person. I use my time first thing in the morning to set the tone for my day with important activities. These are not project work, though. However, there was a time when I got up a bit earlier so that I could spend 15 minutes writing. This gave me a lot of time to work on my book or blog.

You might not think that 15 minutes can produce much, but I can do about 500 words in 15 minutes, and over a week that adds up.

Lunch Hours

When I was an employee instead of a consultant (as I am now), I didn’t have much say in my lunch time. I had 60 minutes to eat. I was able to take 45 of those minutes and work on my own projects. I would go out to my car and read or write.

Even shifting my errands to that block of time freed up time in the evenings and weekends for other things.

Now that I am a consultant, it is similar. When I work from home I take a full hour for lunch and do my Duolingo and percussion practicing. When I am working from the client site I take 30 minutes and spend the extra lunch time walking the halls to get my steps in. All three of these activities frees up time in my evenings.

Evenings Before Bed

When my daughter was small, I would take the time after she went to bed and before I collapsed into bed myself to work on my projects. I could get 30 minutes in of writing or crafting each night and still feel like I got enough sleep.

In Between Work and Home

When I was still working in the office, I used the commute time to listen to podcasts. When I got home I was immediately thrown into housework and dinner prep. This continued even after I started working from home. Instead, I now take the time between when my working time ends and dinner to do my project work. As a family we moved dinner time to 7 pm, an hour later than it used to be, and that means I get a solid 90 minutes even if I am doing dinner prep.

Determining Your Blocks

I found that when I started this block approach I wasn’t using the blocks well. It took printing out a schedule every week and coloring in the blocks to determine where I could shift things in order to free up larger blocks.

It really was the physical act of coloring things in that made it click for me. Now I can do it automatically, but if my schedule changes, I need to go back and determine how to put things together to free up those blocks for project work.

By using the block method I have been able to free up time every day to work on my bigger projects like this blog, writing fiction, producing blankets and clothes with knitting, take up two new instruments and learn a language.

What could you do if you started blocking things?
time blocking

1 Comment

  1. Sunny

    Hi Laura,
    I had to laugh. I currently have a colored block schedule on my desk because it is the only way I can SEE the time I have available. Also, I am known to “find time” when I should be sleeping. Thanks for sharing your insights–I’ve enjoyed reading them.

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