One of the irks I have in my daily life is making time for things I want to do. In my case, it can be absolutely anything, ranging from keeping up with dancing so that my technique does not slip from lack of practice and staying in touch with friends over dinner to going to concerts and writing that blog post. Unless if you are a professional dancer and can afford to have generous amounts of time to spend in the studio, you’re likely to be somebody who is holding up a day job on one hand and juggling with different activities on the other.
This is where things either get interesting or disastrous.
Not only are you required to give commitments to different groups of people or activities, it becomes a pain to keep track or schedule.
So how do you make time for the things you want to do?
1. Make use of a scheduling calendar.
From using Google Calendars and Sunrise to conventional table top calendars and notebooks, there are ample ways to mark your schedule. There are 2 main reasons for doing so:
1. It helps you keep track of what you’re supposed to be doing.
There are days when you lose track of time/days due to exhaustion or feeling overwhelmed. By actually marking it down, you are actively making a commitment to do the activity. It also keeps your mind from feeling overwhelmed by remembering every single detail and giving it space to remember other things that will require more concentration.
2. It ensures you are not double booked.
This is perhaps one of the things people would be most guilty of if they don’t check their daily scheduling. Penciling in an activity for a certain time only to find that you are already booked up for another one at the same period later increases the amount of stress as it takes more energy to reschedule than to schedule correctly in the first place.
Which activity is more important to you? This is the question you must ask yourself when faced with two or more events you want to go to in a short period of time. This can be as simple as choosing to spend that extra hour in the studio or go to have tea with a close friend at the same slot.
Depending on what your main goal is at a given moment, priorities change. For example, it would be more feasible to spend that extra hour in the studio if you were to compete in a week. Similarly, that new recipe you wish to try can wait until next week if you do not have the time to buy the ingredients now. Use your own judgement on which activity takes more priority.
3. Learn to say “no”.
When ensuring you keep your priorities in focus, there will be opportunities when you may be required to turn down activities. Would you rather spend time on a coffee catch up with your cousin or watch that latest Ironman movie with a group of classmates? You will not be able to please everybody, but again, this is where you will need to learn to use your own judgement when scheduling.
4. Tell your friends and family to schedule in advance.
By asking them to schedule in advance, it will make your scheduling much easier as you will have more time slots to choose from. A few may resent you for a one week minimum (as many people prefer to be spontaneous on the spot), but many are understanding if you ask them to schedule in advance if you can assure them that you will give your full attention upon meeting them.
5. Offer alternative suggestions and/or time slots.
There will always be that friend or family member who will make a fuss about you not spending enough time with them. This is when you can offer alternative suggestions, such as a meeting point that works for both of you, or an alternative time slot, such as meeting for late drinks instead of dinner. This will show that you are prepared to make certain amendments and appear organized at the same time.
6. Make time for rest.
There will be set periods when you have so much to do that you barely have time to allow your body to rest. While going at full speed sounds ideal on paper, it is actually not a good idea to do so in the long run as your body and mind need to recover from the activities. Make sure you actually schedule slots to allow yourself to recover as the last thing you will want is a complete burn out. Recovering from a burn out takes a longer time than taking an evening off.
7. Have a plan B.
Stuff happens. Your friend cancels on you at the last minute, your dance partner suddenly becomes ill. Having a back up plan for times when your main plan doesn’t work will help you to be efficient. For instance, if you always carry your dance shoes, you can call your studio to ask if there is an available slot during the time you’re supposed to be practicing elsewhere.
Personally, I usually have my iPad mini on me so that I can sit down at a nearby coffee shop to either read or work on my next projects should I have 2 hours in between activities. Being able to work on something alternative or finish some errands while you have a little bit of time will help you pave way for other things later on in your schedule.
8. Give your full attention to the activity in session.
What is one of the things that annoy people the most? Correct answer: Not giving your full attention to the other person.
It is understandable that you have many things to do. However, in order for others to truly respect your time, you must give them your full attention. This means putting your phone away and resisting that urge to check your messages for every single buzz. Save that for when you’re on public transport or just before you head to your next destination. Whoever you’re spending time with now will truly appreciate the fact that you’ve given them your full attention in your busy schedule.
9. Be protective of your schedule.
Once you have established a daily schedule that will enable you to do the things you want to do, friends and family will learn to accommodate to scheduling meet ups with you in mind. By then, you should be able to know which times are non-negotiable or can have optional choices. For instance, if you have a group lesson on Tuesday nights between 19:30 and 21:30, then obviously you let them know that Tuesday nights are not feasible for you.
10. Be prepared to be spontaneous.
Having said all that, there are last minute moments when you may be required to switch your schedule around. While you will need to remain protective of your schedule most of the time, it also helps if you are able to switch to an alternative at a moment’s notice.
For instance, there can be a location issue where the coffee shop you used to frequent often suddenly closes down 2 months after. This is when you can start sourcing alternative locations for a sit down coffee. Similarly, you might be staying over at a friend’s place and you might miss your studio practice session the next morning. Just pop on your dance shoes and practice those jive flicks and kicks for a few minutes as an alternative.
By putting these steps into place, not only will you be able to keep your schedule full of activities you wish to do, you will also be able to have friends and family more likely to respect your time.
Do you feel overwhelmed when you have a full schedule? How do you normally manage your time? Let us know in the comments below!
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