The reason most of us work in our current jobs is money. Obviously.
We need to pay rent, food, clothing, entertainment, and more.
In order to afford the standards we are used to, we have to put up with mediocre working-conditions, extensive overtime, and generally unengaging, boring work.
Feeling trapped in this carousel of obligations and lacking self-fullfillments, it is easy to start regretting prior life-choices.
“Perhaps I should have tried to work more during twenties”.
“I always had this idea for a great app I never got to realise”.
Thoguhts like these might pop into ones head when faced with frustration and an unhealthy work-life balance.
They boil down to “what if” thinking.
What if you had choosen a different path in life, would you be happier? Would you have fewer problems?
The painful character of this situation comes from the underlying uncertainty.
If you had tried to make that app work, atleast you would spare time and energy dreading over the fact that you never pursued it.
But how do you get out of this pity situation?
Is it too late to make your dreams come true?
The first step to reach what you desire is making time in your schedule.
This is easier said than done. Family, friends, hobbies, and above all, your current job, all demand time.
In fact, finding eough time to even fit your current affairs into your schedule might prove to be difficult on its own.
So how will you ever make space for another project that you ideally want to work on every day?
One technique you can use is to write down your average week, creating an accurate depiction of how you spend your time.
Take your time on a sunday and be very specific with it.
Instead of listing your working hours and the sports you do within the week, go really in depth!
The following should be taken into consideration
- Working hours: Look at the exact number of hours you are working, also factor in the time you spend on the road to get to work and back.
- Social obligations: Here go weekly poker rounds with the neighbors, the amount of time needed for kids or partners, dating, or any other frequent social interactions.
- Smartphone consumption: How much time do you spend on your phone daily, or weekly. Be as honest as you can possibly be here. The only one you can cheat in an exercise like this is yourself! If you have troubles to pin down a good estimate, ask friends and family to give you an assessment or track your usage by using tracking apps.
- Downtime: Are you watching a lot of TV or just relaxing? how much time in your day is up for grabs to fill with new tasks?
- Eating and sleeping: How much time do basic needs demand in your life?
After completing your schedule, you should have a better idea of how you spend your time.
The next step is to see where you could tweak your schedule to free up some of that time.
Since you probably have to work a fixed amount, your working hours are one of the lesser flexible components of you week.
However, perhaps there is a faster way to get to work? Only 10 minutes of time savings per drive makes for 20 minutes each day, and for 140 minutes per week!
To illustrate how significant a small change like this can be, imagine working on your project for 2 hours every week. Sure, it will not be enough to build a successful company, but it is a start. Something you can build upon. Atleast it gets you to actually make progress.
Additionally, there might be many more small saving you can derive from your weekly schedule.
The big ones being downtime and smartphone usage
In theory, you don’t need to spend a single minute on your smartphone to have a successful day.
It get that in modern days, the idea of not owning a smartphone is terrific, as I am surely owning one myself.
Inspite of all the benefits of communication and information it has to offer, you can do the beneficial tasks, like checking the news and communicating with the loved ones, in a very limited amount per day.
However, most people tend to spend way more time on their phones.
Mainly scrolling trough social media or watching pop-cultural videos, following trends, looking for the next viral post.
With a tight schedule like yours, you need to make priorities. You also need to stick to them.
So if you think watching cat videos has a great, long lasting, effect on your life, keep doing it.
If you feel, however, that finally taking a step foreward to accomplish your dreams and goals, whatever that might be, is more important to work towards to, than the choice is clear.
In order to make adjustments like that, you have to realise that the most scarce resource you have is not money, but time.
Every possible thing you could do in any given moment competes with everything else for your attention.
Because our human abilities are only limited, we cannot do it all.
Therefore, we have to pick out the things that are worthy of this scarce resource of ours, and rule our the ones that are not.
So the next time you find yourself spending precious time on buzzfeed, question yourslef whether that really is the number one thing you want to do in that moment.
With a critical mind like that, you want to carefully analyze your whole schedule, exposing ways you waste time or discovering slots you could fit in additional tasks.
After completing your analyis, you are hopefully freed up some additional time you could use to foster your new project.
Unless you found ways to to dedicate 2 hours or more every day to your own project though, it will probably not be enough just yet.
Additionally, even if you managed to get rid of many unecessary habits and time sinks, more is always better.
The more time you spend each week, the higher the chances and speed of success.
The next thing you do it looking at what you could sacrafice, this demands very objective, goal oriented thinking, and can only be executed with a certain amount of willpower.
If you meet up every evening after work to grab a beer with your coworkers, that’s a neat tradition, but it is also takes so much time of your week away.
I am not trying to say that this can not be quality time.
Usually, time you enjoy wasting isn’t time wasted.
Regardless, in the end it really is about different things competing for your time and attention.
Either you continue this tradition, or you follow up on your dream to learn another language, for example.
As you can see, these decisions are very hard to make.
Ideally, you want to have everything, you want to learn that new languages you were fascinated with, but you still want to spend fun time with your coworkers.
It is a dilemma situation.
That is why it is tremendously important to set your priorities, and to stick to them.
If you fail to do that, always trying to fit in everything, you will not progress in anything.
If you are a jack of all trades, you are a master of none!
Once you established your priorities, act on them.
While it might be painful to tell your colleges your are only joining them 1 evening a week instead of 5, you just gained so much time to spend on something that will fulfill you in a sustainable way.
By deleting weekly habits and activities, you free-up so much time that working on that side-project all of the sudden gets feasable.
Re-structure your life
Now we are at the point where we have freed up as much time as possible.
Hopefully we amounted several hours each week to dedicate to our project and are willing to start.
A final step we can take in order to free up more time, and be more efficient in general, is restrucuring your day.
By dismissing the activities you have judged not to be vital, and cutting down on bad habits and time sinks, you are left with a set of core activities.
These should all heavily contribute to your quality of life.
Fitting these categories into your week will create a whole new life.
Try to be as efficient and creative as possible.
To name an example, it might take you up to 1 hour to to get to your workplace everyday.
Most of the time, especially if you are working in a city, this is not only due to the actual distance from your home to your work, but also becasue of rush hours.
Slow traffic can already set a bad tone of the day, frustrating you each and every day.
To prevent being stuck in traffic like that, try talking with your boss about shifting work hours.
Perhaps you can start and finish earlier, trying to get around the main traffic times.
If your starting and ending time is non-negotioable, ask if you can still come in earlier to work on your own for the first hour or too.
This way, you are always on time, never have to deal with frustrating traffic, and have a perfect working environment, as well as equipment, to work towards realising your own projects.
Being flexible like this can open up many possibilities to not only save time, but to use it more efficiently, too.
There are many small hacks you can integrade in order to make small improvements in your scheudle, adding them up will net you with a lot of time you didn’t even know existed.
Here are some examples for you to consider:
- Reduce you grocery shopping to once a week will cut down your expenses and time spend in the supermarket
- Use laundry and other cleaning chores as breaks from work. Simply put on some music and relax while doing the dishes. ITs not that bad!
- Wake up early and integrate a morning routien to increase your productivity and efficiency.
- Don’t sleep more than you have to! Experiment with how much sleep works best for you, optimally stick to set times to go to bed and wake up. Both, too little, and too much sleep will diminish your productivity.
Cut down on your work
Since this article should teach you how to purssue you goals despite a job, potentially cutting down on your work gets its own section.
If you did all the above mentioned things and are somehow still short on time, your work is the last thing to tackle.
Even though the prior mentioned steps should be easily enough to free up lots of time when applied correctly, some people still struggle to change their weekly schedule that much.
This can have all sorts of reasons.
If you feel like you have a valid enough reason to stay with your weekly schedule as it is, or you want to free up even more time for your project, consider simply working less.
Of course, this needs to be discussed with your employer.
Also, you probably have to make some adjustments regarding your budgeting.
Since most people live from paycheck to paycheck and cannot really affort to earn less money, your lifestyle needs to change.
I won’t go into detail in this article, but there are countless ways to save money and reduce your living expenses.
Starting with buying cheaper food and developing cooking habits, to moving into a place that costs less rent are all available methods.
Again, this could be considered to make sacrafices, but i’d rather drive a less expensive car, trying to make money with my passion, then keeping my standars up high, spending most of my life in a job i have no interest or positive feelings towards.
But this is a decision everyone has to make on their own.
If you feel that burning desire to finally realise your dreams, or work on your passions, try to free up as much time as possible, then re-structure your life using weekly schedules.
Set your priorities, stick to them, and do the right dicisions.
There are multiple ways to save time and money.
On top of that, I am a firm believer that there is always a way to make it happen.
Addmittetly, it is harder for some people than it is for others.
After you have freed up as much time as possible, fill it in with habits that support your progress.
Getting up early, driving to the office before there is heavy traffic or before you even have to be there, and working on your app for 2 hours every day could be the difference between you continuing to work that job for the rest of your life, and you enjoying passive income.
Additionally, don’t give up to early and stick to your habits, if you do that, greatness awaits!
Thank you for reading, see you around!