In an interview I did some years ago with Hugh Downs, I asked him how he finds the time to get so much accomplished. He explained that people who complain about not being able to find the time to do things they say are important to them are approaching the issue with the wrong mind-set. His philosophy is that you don’t “find the time” to do anything; you “make the time.”
Finding time implies there is a certain amount of unused time somewhere in your day that you can utilize to work on something that’s important to you. But if your days are like mine, not only do you not have extra time on your hands, you can never hope to work on even those things that you consider to be of prime importance.
So if you’re constantly searching for a time opening to start exercising, take some online courses, or, as in the case of Hugh Downs, read all of the great works of literature, the likelihood is that you’ll never get around to doing any of these things. Parkinson’s Law is all too true: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
I highly recommend that you take Downs’ advice and, if a project is important enough to you, make the time to work on it. Otherwise, it may take you much longer than necessary to complete it — or perhaps even never work on it at all.
Which means, of course, that you have to prioritize, a practice that everyone likes to talk about but very few people are able to master. I realize that many folks don’t like to hear it, but in order to become effective at prioritizing, I believe you have to look at your business and personal life as one.
Perhaps the best example of this is exercise. Though you may think of exercise as part of your personal life, the reality is that it directly impacts your business life as well — especially if you die from a lack of it! Dead people — or even sick people — aren’t high earners. I know from experience that the only way I ever get around to exercising is if I make it a fixture in my regular schedule and set a specific time on specific days to do it.
Remember, if you feel as though you’ll never catch up on everything you want to do, you’re right. The only people who get everything done are those who are not going anywhere in life. (Hint: If you spend a great deal of time watching television, it’s a good bet that you may be in that group.)
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that if you’re over the age of twenty-five and spend hours on end playing with, and staring at, your smartphone, you’re probably better off to ignore everything I’ve said in this article and just continue on with your normal way of life. The withdrawal symptoms from your smartphone addiction could be so traumatic that it may be impossible for you to focus on adult projects.
Bottom line: Forget about trying to find time. In an active life, there’s none of that particular commodity lying around unused. If something is important enough to you, make the time to do it. Remember, you have free will, so the plain truth is that you can do anything you really want to do at any time you choose to do it.