Kristen Kalp is a writer and orphan hugger who founded the Brand Camp blog to help entrepreneurs create businesses that light them up. This article is a modified excerpt from her latest book, Change the World, Dammit!, which will help you bring your own world-changing project to life. Grab the free first chapter here.
HOW TO TURN YOUR GREAT IDEA INTO A REALITY
We’re all given 24 hours a day. We’re all stewards of our own time, free to fill each minute as we see fit. How is it that some people get so much done, while others struggle to get out of bed and shower each day?
Time mavens plan and schedule their days. They aren’t subject to the waffling that kicks in when there’s no set agenda for the day. They have a set list of things to do and they know when they’re going to do them.
This doesn’t mean you have to turn into a regimented control freak, ordering your family and friends to finish their milkshakes faster because you’ve been at the restaurant 1.4 minutes too long. It means you take charge of your calendar.
Your calendar is your responsibility.
This may be a little unpleasant, since you can immediately think of all the reasons your time is not your own. You have a job. You have a family. You have a sports team. Your kids have activities. A thousand excuses and “Yah but”s pop into your mind. Yah but, your calendar is still your responsibility.
The secret to making any project happen is to choose a deadline for your project and schedule it.
Whether you’re going to pull off a major marketing campaign, spend more time with your kids before they graduate from high school, start volunteering with your favorite nonprofit, adopt a whale and then go visit it in the Arctic, or take that painting class you’re always putting off — scheduling makes the project infinitely more likely to happen.
If it means the world to you to make something happen, you owe it to yourself to schedule every bit of it right now. Figure out how you’re going to make the time to get this show on the road. Maybe you’ll need to order take-out instead of cooking two nights a week. Maybe you’ll need to wake up earlier. Maybe you’ll need to ban yourself from Facebook for a few weeks. Maybe you’ll have to stop checking e-mail on the weekends so you can focus. Maybe you’ll have to hire a sitter.
Ignore all the reasons you can’t possibly find the time.
As your life gets busier and a bit more challenging, your brain will naturally provide excuses for pushing your latest and greatest ideas to the back burner.
This happens whether you want to run a marathon (“It’s so coooold out,” your brain coos), start eating in more (“But pizza is so much easier,” an inner voice chides), or put intense effort into marketing your business for growth (“People don’t want to hear what you have to say,” the mind nags).
Simply make this project a priority and schedule it as such. This means making a terribly-long-but-helpful list of all the things that must get done for this project to happen. Go on, do a braindump of everything that has to be done to make the project happen without slipping into overwhelm, and then schedule every single one. Refuse to say you don’t have time or that you can’t make it work. If it means enough to you, you can.
When you say you don’t have time for something, you’re actually saying it isn’t a priority.
Read that again, because it’s pretty much the best advice about time management I’ve ever encountered. If you say you don’t have time for something, you’re just saying it isn’t a priority. I used to say I didn’t have time to work out — when in reality, it wasn’t a priority. (And Lord knows, if I have time to be on Facebook, I have time to do some squats and push-ups.)
“I don’t have time” is a convenient excuse to avoid examining the underlying issues surrounding your life choices. That’s why we schedule tasks: to be sure they’re given priority status. If you decide this project is a priority, you’ll make the time. End of story.
I recommend Google Calendar to get yourself started on the scheduling train.
If you’re not familiar with Google calendar, make it your first priority! The most productive people I know make use of this tool on a daily basis. Because they know exactly what to focus on at what time (10,10:30,11,11:30…), they get way more done than people who have to-do lists without time limits.
The difference you’ll see in your own productivity will go through the roof.
I can now write blog posts in half the time it used to take me. Not because I’m a better or faster writer, but because I simply have to be done so I can get to the next task on my Google calendar. Amazing what a little time limit can do!
This genius tool also means that you can schedule your big project for when you know you’re not all that busy. Because your priority project is scheduled, refuse to worry about tasks related to it until they pop up in a few weeks or months.
I find that once I’ve blocked off time to complete a set of tasks, my stress levels surrounding them drop to nothing. I’ve made time to get my priorities taken care of; until that time rolls around, I have other projects to complete!
All images used in this post are © Kristen Kalp.
You can find more of Kristen’s images and helpful articles on her Blog | Facebook Page.