How to Work on Self Improvement When You Have No Time
posted on September 27, 2019 | by Caitlyn Campbell
Self-improvement can seem like such a lofty term, but I assume you’re like me – you have multiple passions, things you want to try and learn, and little to no time in which to do them. A weekday is frantic with trying to get to your job, doing all of your work, and then trying to get home at a reasonable time so you can make dinner, relax, and then prep for the next day. And weekends are usually reserved for errands, and doing one or two things that you really want to do before you get sucked back into the responsibilities that are never-ending.
Sound familiar? Welcome to the club.
What I have learned though, now that I’m in my thirties, is that time waits for no woman. If there’s something you want to do, learn, or see, you just have to do it.
This is how I’ve learned to make my self-improvement happen when it feels like I have no time:
Pick One. Just One.
Everyone has a multitude of things they want to work on – exercise more, meditate, learn a language, take a class, etc. While this is a good thing, it can also be a hindrance. You can have so many things you want to do that you’re not sure where to start, or you start multiple things at once only to abandon them in a week or two because you’re so overwhelmed.
How do you combat this? Make a list of everything – and I mean everything – that you want to do. Do you want to go to Poland? Put it on the list. Get out of debt? On the list it goes. What about learning a new skill, like cooking? You betcha, it goes on the list too. Once you’ve finished your list, look it over, marvel at how long it is, and then take a deep breath before the panic sets in.
When I made my list, my first thought was, “Where am I going to find the time to all of this?!” Your list can seem daunting just because of how long it is, but never fear, you’re not tackling all of that list today, or next week, or even next month.
Now that you’ve made your list, you need to go back to it and pick one thing that you want to do. Just one. Multitasking is usually a point of pride for people, especially for women. We can do all of the things, and doesn’t that make us wonderful? Stop multitasking. That’s our downfall. We try to do everything, and then end up finishing nothing that we really want to do, so, just pick one.
It’s All About the Schedule
Once you’ve picked the one thing you’re going to work on, you have to find the time to do it. This moment, right here, is where the good intentions and plans die. Because as we all know none of us have the time. What do we do then? We make it.
Every week, you need to sit down with your calendar and schedule in the time that you’re going to devote to your one thing. I like to do this Sunday night before the workweek begins. I sit down with my calendar app and I literally schedule my self-improvement. The one thing I’m working on right now is exercising more.
I know I will never work out after work. I’m tired, hungry, and just want to relax in the evening. I have zero desire to go to the gym or to put serious effort into anything. Knowing this about myself, I schedule my workouts in the morning before work. In order to do that, I now get up at 5 am. In order to get up at 5 am, I have to go to bed at 10 pm so I get enough sleep. Scheduling my exercise means I have to schedule other aspects of my life – like my sleep – and make myself a routine. When something is routine, you have a better chance of sticking with it.
Stick With it
The only way to make something stick is to make it into a routine. If you don’t do that, then it’s easy to give up in a week or two and fall back into never having time to do what you want. Creating a new routine takes at least 21 days. If you quit before then, as my girl crush Rachel Hollis says, you have to start at day one all over again.
In order to help myself stick to my routine, I have an alarm that goes off at 9:30 pm reminding me to go to bed because my routine doesn’t start at 5 am, it starts the night before by making sure I have enough sleep so I can get up. I also set rewards for myself. When I hit the two week mark I treated myself to a new workout outfit. At three weeks, I rewarded myself with a good pair of workout shoes. These rewards give me something to strive for, and since the rewards are workout related, it keeps me pumped about working out.
The goal of working out – because unlike other items on your list, you can’t just finish it – is to incorporate it into my daily routine so I always do it. Once this happens, I can cross it off my list and go on to the next thing I want to do.
It always seems like we never have time. But we do. We have the same amount of time in a day as Oprah, and Bill Gates, and anyone else you look up to. Those people just manage their time better, and we can too.
If you want to learn more about going for your goals, I suggest reading “Girl, Wash Your Face“, and “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis. They’re some of the best books I’ve read about self-improvement.
Do you have a favorite book or way to get inspired when it comes to self-improvement?