Leo Babauta: Create Time to Change Your Life
When I decided to change my life a little over 5 years ago, I had a very common problem: I didn’t have the time.
I wanted to exercise and find time for my family and eat healthier (instead of the fast-food junk I’d been eating) and read more and write and be more productive and increase my income.
Unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day, and we sleep for about 8 of them. Subtract the hours we spend eating (3), showering and dressing and fixing up (1), cleaning and running errands (1), driving (2), working (8) … and you’re left with an hour or two at most. Often less.
Eventually I figured out how to do all the things I wanted to do. I’ve achieved all of that and more, and in fact I have more leisure time now than ever. But first I had to figure out the fundamental problem: how could I find the time to change my life?
I know many of you face the same problem – you’ve told me as much. So I thought I’d share some of what I did in the beginning, in hopes that it’ll help.
The First Step
You must make a commitment. You have to decide that you really want to make a change, and that it’s more important than almost anything else.
For me, only my family was more important – and in fact I was making these change for my family as well as for myself. So these changes I was making were really my top priority in life.
It has to be that urgent for you. Think of this not as “improving your life” but saving it. The changes I made saved my life – I am so much healthier, my marriage is better, my relationships with my kids have improved, I am happier rather than depressed.
If you don’t feel you’re saving your life then you won’t make the tough changes needed.
Once I made the mental commitment, I took small steps to give myself a little wiggle
room to breathe and move:
Cut out TV. I watched less TV than ever before (eventually I watched none, though now I watch a few shows a week over the Internet). For many people this one change will free up a couple hours or more.
Read less junk. I used to read a lot of things on the Internet that were just entertainment. Same with magazines. I cut that stuff out early so I could focus on what was more important.
Go out less. I used to go to a lot of movies and to dinner and drinking. I cut that out (mostly) for awhile, to make time.
Wake earlier. Not everyone is going to do this but it was a good step for me. I found that I had more time exercising and working in the morning before anyone woke up – the world was quiet and at peace and without interruptions. (Read more.)
In general, find the things that eat up your time that are less important than the changes you want to make. That’s almost everything except the things you need to live – work and eating and stuff like that. Cut back on them where you can.
I had a lot of commitments in my life – I coached soccer, was on the PTA board, served on a lot of committees at work, had social commitments as well, worked on a number of projects.
Slowly I cut them out. They seemed important but in truth none of them were as important as the life I wanted to create, the changes I wanted to make. Lots of things are important – but which are the absolute most important? Make a decision.
If you are having trouble making a decision, try an experiment. Cut out a commitment just for a little while. See whether you suffer from cutting it out, or whether you like the extra time.