How Do You Find the Time? My secret to making it happen.

“How do you find the time?” It’s a pretty common question for people who have thought about becoming a writer but have a multitude of other responsibilities that seem to take priority. For many writers who have overcome this dilemma, the answer is, “It’s not easy.”

I have seen a demonstration given several times. You start out with a large jar. This represents the time you have in a day. Then, there are several things you have to fit in the jar. First, you have a bunch of tennis balls (oranges work too). These are the large things that you have to do. School, work, keeping family members alive—all those things that are pretty important. Then, you have some golf balls, which represent other important things that might not be quite as time-consuming, but you still need to fit in. There are a bunch of marbles, and some rice, and some sand, representing various other tasks that take up time here and there, sometimes planned, sometimes unplanned. Then you have water, which is any other tiny things you are determined to fit in. If you don’t do it right, it is impossible to get everything to fit. The sand can’t go in before the marbles. The golf balls can’t go in before the tennis balls. You have to start with the tennis balls and fit the golf balls in the gaps. Then the marbles fit in the holes between these, followed by the rice, then sand. Last, you can dump the water in and it fills everything else. In this way, though the bowl is very full, it miraculously fits everything. The trick is figuring out where the writing fits in your day. As a writer with plenty of other responsibilities, I have learned there are two ways to make writing happen. These things can work for other things besides just writing too. First, you can try to find time. Second, when time is just too scarce to be found, you have to make time.

First, I like to try to find time. This is like turning your writing (or other activity) into rice and slipping it between the larger things in your day. If you look hard, it is amazing how many tiny spots you can find time to write. If you don’t believe me, start keeping track of when you look at Facebook or other sights like that. Are you waiting for water to boil on the stove? You’ve got somewhere around seven minutes before it does—more if you need to boil a lot. I know because I had to time it multiple times for a science project. How about waiting for a meeting to start? Waiting for food to come at a restaurant? Stuck in a waiting room? Chances are, if you used these minutes to write a few sentences or paragraphs, it may not be fast, but eventually you will get somewhere. If it’s exercise you are trying to fit in, do a few jumping jacks, or go up and down the stairs a few times. (This might be a bit harder in a restaurant or waiting room.) Wanting to read a book, or finish a sketch? These work here too. I’ve found I can even learn a song on the piano if I work on it in two to five-minute increments when I sneak it in every time I walk past. Finding moments can really help.

Sometimes, life gets busy enough there really aren’t moments to find, or you need a larger space of time than just a moment. In these cases, you might have to turn your writing into a tennis ball and make it that important. You have to make the time for it. Sometimes making time means scheduling in a space of time that you will not interrupt for anything short of blood or fire. Sometimes it is not going to bed until you finish a certain goal. Other times, it is getting up early to fit something in that you want to get done. Maybe, it is even giving up another activity that isn’t perfectly mandatory to fit in what you really want to do. This can sometimes be slightly painful, but if you really want to get your writing, exercise, project, or whatever it is done, it might be necessary.

Finding and making time are both habits. The more you practice doing it, the more possibilities you will start to see. Try it! I will admit, there are times neither of these is possible. There are some responsibilities you can’t ignore. There are some relationships you can’t shove aside. There are times I have had to put my writing away for a bit because, as much as I love it, there are people and other things I love even more, but I never put it too far. I always look for the opportunity to jump back in. If I keep my eyes open and look for the possibilities, I almost always can manage to either find the time or make the time eventually, even if it isn’t today, tomorrow, or even this week. Just don’t give up, and start working on it as soon as you can again. Whatever you do, don’t let a lack of time become a dream-killing excuse. Keep your eyes open, and as soon as the next opportunity comes, try again! It’s the seconds that count, and you can almost always find a few of those.

What do you want to get the time to do? What do you to to get time to do it?

2 Responses to “How Do You Find the Time? My secret to making it happen.

  • Good article and reminder just when I am worried my New Year’s goals aren’t happening.

    • It’s true. Things really don’t happen unless you make them. Time to do things doesn’t usually just come and tap you on the shoulder. You have to actively seek it, or work hard to make it.

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