There’s a popular saying that we all have the same number of hours in a day. Or to really make the point, we all have the same number of hours as Beyonce. The implication is that we all have the time to be superstars if we really want it and are willing to work to make it happen.
For many people it is the kick in the pants they need to get moving on their goals and dreams.
But what about those of us who aren’t wasting time in the first place?
While other people might be able to cut out watching TV or sleeping in, your arms might be full at night and in the early morning hours with a clingy baby. Or maybe you have a child with special needs. Or you’re caring for an aging parent. It could be that you’re working two jobs just to put food on the table. Or you have a physical condition that makes basic tasks take longer.
Can you still accomplish great things with these limitations?
Of course you can.
We all love to hear stories about people who have overcome the odds and broken world records or accomplished great things or built thriving businesses. It’s one of the reasons that Hamilton has become such a huge part of our culture.
But if you’re in a season in which many of your 24 hours are being used up by things outside of your control, know that I see you. And I get how frustrating it is to be told that you could make the time if you really wanted to while sincerely looking back at your day for a pocket of time when you might have been able to pursue a goal (or heck, even take a few minutes to just breathe).
If you’re in a season where your 24 hours don’t seem to belong to you and just simply can’t be stretched any further, let me offer this encouragement:
1. Accept your limitations.
I’ve written about this before because sometimes there just isn’t enough time. For those of us who enjoy things like productivity hacks, time and task management, and getting things done, it can be frustrating to realize that there are still limits on what you can actually do. You can stay in the place where you’re frustrated and discouraged, or you can choose to accept—and embrace—the season you’re in. Look forward to the future with hope, but don’t become so focused on what you can’t do that you become bitter or unmotivated to even try.
2. Look for the activities with the biggest impact.
I’m sure you know this already, but as a reminder, if you can’t do everything, choose the things that have the biggest impact.
- At home, that means I wash, dry, and sort the laundry into baskets so that we can find clean clothes, even if I run out time to fold and put it away. It means cooking larger batches of food for additional meals. And it means we don’t make our bed (even though that used to be one of my “pressure points”) because the babies are just going to sleep in it throughout the day anyway.
- At work, it means batching things like email processing, reevaluating the way I do things to eliminate redundancies and irrelevant tasks, and delegating to others if something doesn’t really need to be done by me.
- For this blog, it means ignoring the list of all the things I could be doing to focus on those that 1) I enjoy and 2) will have an impact. So right now I’m focused on making my email newsletters really relevant and valuable for readers even though I could be improving my Facebook strategy, blogging more often, or cleaning up the archives as well.
3. Get creative.
I am a pen-and-paper girl at heart, but for the past year, I’ve had to accept that my phone is the most effective way to get things done with a fussy baby in my arms. I’m able to type in to-do lists and reminders, start blog post drafts, do my devotional, and more during moments when I simply can’t juggle pen and paper around a wiggly baby. It’s not my first choice, and I’m picking up my notebook more and more these days (more on that later this week!), but being willing to think outside the box and get creative allowed me to get a few more things done.
4. Don’t ignore self-care.
There is a difference between wasting time and taking care of yourself, and too many mothers/entrepreneurs/homeschoolers have burnt out from trying to do too much for too long. The line between self-care and indulgence isn’t easily defined by rules and regulations, but I’d venture a guess that if you’re worried about taking some time for self-care, you’re probably not getting enough. We all know that running too hard backfires in the long run, so make sure you’re making room for self-care in your schedule!
5. Reevaluate often.
As I mentioned before, one thing you need to be careful of is the temptation to focus on your limitations. If you do this for too long, it’s too easy to miss the small changes that might allow for more time to devote to your dream. Consider how you’re spending your time, not out of guilt or frustration but with a sincere desire to spot any openings in your schedule that you can use. It may be as simple as 15-20 minutes when that clingy baby begins to play happily, 30 minutes to listen to a podcast or audiobook while you drive, or an early morning hour of work before your littles wake up.
How do you deal with limitations on the time you have to pursue the things you want to be doing?