How To Reach Your Goals When You Have No Time to Work On Them
Eroticon is over for another year, and I have no doubt that by the time it’s over, I’ll be going through con-drop in a serious way. It happens every year.
My standalone session this year was about reaching your goals when you have no time. If you weren’t able to attend Eroticon or the session, everything below is an outline of what I discussed. And if you DID attend, consider this post to be a reminder and links to the resources I mentioned. As I’m writing this in the future (re: prior to actually giving this session), I’m going to pretend that it went well, we all had a good time, AND I didn’t fall flat on my face.
Getting Honest About Your Time
The first step to the process I went through to “find” time (it was already there, I only had to see it), was to do a very basic, abbreviated time audit. Basically, you need to know exactly where your time is being spent every day.
Do this with pen and paper, in a day planner or bullet journal you’re already using, or digitally — that’s up to you.
- Pick a timeframe where you want to find more time — this could be days off from work, weekdays, weekends. Whatever is the “ideal” day or set of days for you to work on your goals.
- Write down/block off all the known times of that day already spoken for: work, caregiving for children or adults, regular appointments, commuting to and from work, going to the gym/working out, everything. Anything and everything you do on a regular basis — including small things like watching a favorite show to always decompressing for 30 minutes with a glass of wine needs to be marked off.
- Get real about it. This means including the real time actually spent. Work isn’t just from 9am to 5pm, it’s also the time you spend commuting to and from.
- If you do things semi-regularly — spending time with friends, appointments that tend to happen at the same time or on the same day, add those in as well.
- Include any blogging or time spent working on your goals that you already have set aside
Once you’ve put in ALL the known things in your schedule, take a look at what’s left. In some cases, you might immediately see time you didn’t know you had.
How much extra time do you have? 30 minutes or 3 hours?
I started with 30 minutes and recommend that for most people so you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you only have 15 minutes, you can get a lot done in that time, too. The point is to find the time on your schedule and choose (and make the habit) of focusing on your goals for that amount of time.
If you see open time that you didn’t realize was there, part of this exercise will be about getting real about how you spend your extra time every day.
Knowing Your Goals
It’s not enough to find some extra time. You also need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. For some people, this will give your time purpose — especially if you’re the type who really likes a to-do list or to know exactly what you’re working towards.
Picture your goals in three steps:
- The big hairy ass goal that you ultimately want to get to — big goal
- The things you need to accomplish to get to that big goal — medium goals
- The short-term projects and tasks that you can do right now — short-term goals
Your short-term goals should be what allows you to work to the medium goals. Ideally the medium-term goals get you to the big goal. It’s perfectly okay to only have one big goal and everything you do moves you to that outcome. It’s also okay to not have a big goal in mind but to know what you want to be doing in the short-term.
The entire purpose of this exercise is to figure out what you’re doing with the time you’ve got. Having no purpose means you’re more likely to spin your wheels than to accomplish anything.
I’ll use myself as an example.
The Big Goal: Earn a full-time income from blogging/speaking/content creation efforts as Kayla Lords (across all sites)
The Medium Goals: Create products/services that earn income: write books, Patreon, podcast sponsorship, web sponsorship, affiliate sales, online courses, etc.
The Short-Term Goals: build an audience, write content, reach out to brands, network
This is an abbreviated version of what I do (hopefully that’s obvious). But knowing what I’m working towards helps me figure out where I need to focus my efforts.
Write down your goals. You don’t need to put them in a specific order, and you shouldn’t think of any of them as permanent. Your document (yes, doing it digitally is fine, too) is a living, breathing thing. It can and should grow with you over time. But if you write it all down you don’t have to stress about trying to remember it and you always have something to refer back to.
When I first began this process, I found 30 minutes most days of the week to work on cleaning up all my websites — linking issues, SEO tasks, cleaning up categories and tags, etc. Why? Because I know that having a thriving and growing audience across all sites is important for my goal. But also, I wanted to have those things done before trying to concentrate on new projects — like writing a book or creating an online class.
Dealing with Habits
The habits we have now and will develop in the future play the biggest part of all. I didn’t realize how much until well after I put this program together. And talking about habits could have been a full-hour conversation all by itself.
But the most important thing to know about how to change habits is to understand what motivates each of us as individuals, and to understand what drives us to create some habits.
The biggest habit most creators have in common, though, is procrastination. We are not procrastinors (it’s not a character trait — or flaw). We have a habit of procrastination.
If procrastination is the thing holding you back from getting things done, the best trick I’ve found is to realize that procrastination is often tied to fear.
When I feel myself procrastinating, I stop and ask, “What am I afraid of?” Naming of a thing reduces the power of a thing (at some of the time).
Once you know what you’re afraid of, sometimes it’s easy to see it’s not worth the fear. Sometimes it teaches you what you need to work on for the future.
Resources for More Information
Below are resources I intend to mention in my session. If I don’t, oops! There are plenty of other resources but my newfound ability to manage my time and be productive is due, in part, to these women and their advice. They all have books you can buy, but they also have free content that is completely helpful.