A while ago, I realized that I had stopped asking myself how to make time for everything. I was just doing it—to my husband's current dismay.
“Come on, Bruce Lee,” my husband said, exasperatedly tugging my sleeve.
I couldn’t exactly blame him for his tone.
After all, I had just spent the last few minutes repeatedly kicking the wall in a rather narrow hallway — when we had been meaning to go somewhere.
Now, I don’t (yet!) habitually kick our walls.
But my husband hadn’t been ready to leave right away, so I had decided it was the perfect opportunity to review some lessons from my last martial arts class by practicing my footwork.
By the time he was ready to leave, I had really gotten into it.
Dang, this was fun. Did we really have to leave?
How to make time for everything: my personal experience
What that experience showed me is that it’s really easy to build in many types of practices and hobbies in our everyday life.
To my husband’s amusement (or was it dismay? I can’t tell…), I soon began applying that lesson, vigorously.
“Would you mind kicking and punching for moment so I can pass by without, you know, getting kicked or punched?”
My husband asked this, politely, while attempting to cross our living room.
Grumbling, I paused for a moment before resuming my activity.
I wasn’t putting in a formal training session or anything. I wasn’t even wearing sports clothes. I just had a few minutes before our next appointment and I figured, why not put the time to good use?
(Note: my husband and I may disagree about what constitutes a “good use of time.”)
The secret about time
Now, you may be asking yourself: “Wall-kicking is all fine and dandy, but what about those of us who appreciate the more delicate things in life? How can I find time for water-painting in the midst of everyday life?”
You see, it’s not about finding the time. It's about actually using it.
Time is not a wayward sock that somehow got stranded underneath your sofa.
It’s about just doing the thing you love to do whenever you have time.
And the thing is, we often have more time than we think we do.
For instance, do you ever wait for the water boiler to boil, a tea to steep, or the microwave to…whatever it is microwaves are doing?
Do you sometimes end up reading the news or checking social media (here's how to quit Facebook without actually quitting) because you don't know what else to do?
You’ve just found yourself an opportunity to work on your craft.
Here’s how to take advantage of it: have everything prepared in advance so that you can use those quick moments of time.
For instance, if you like to water-color, set everything up (paint, brushes, paper or canvas, clean water, etc.) in the kitchen. That way, all you have to do to start is to grab the paintbrush.
(Note: Before turning the common room into your artist’s workshop, you might have to get permission from your flatmates, family members, or cats. I make no guarantee on how that will go.)
This technique is something that we habit coaches call "environmental design." It's about using the environment to our advantage to better facilitate habit changes.
This simple change is how you make time for everything
Let me give you an example of what that looks like in practice:
After about half a week of my newfound, spur-of-the-moment, mini-training sessions, I realized that I only worked on half the martial arts material.
While I diligently practiced by punches and kicks, I hadn’t once reviewed any of the stick-based techniques we had worked on.
When I asked myself why I realized that it came down to environmental design: to practice a punch or a kick, I didn’t need anything.
To practice stick-fighting, I actually needed my sticks. (Go figure!)
And my sticks happened to be on the lower level of our house. Which apparently was enough of a barrier to keep me from using them.
That’s when I realized that if I wanted to spend more time practicing with sticks, I needed to keep them on the level I spend most time in.
And when I did, I suddenly found myself practicing with sticks in the living room. Which is really awesome.
(Note: my husband does not approve of this message.)
That’s the power of environmental design. Carrying up my sticks one level is all it took for me to actually start using them at least once a day.
By designing your environment to take advantage of mini-breaks you have during your morning/day/evening, you can have much more time to do things you love to do.
By doing something you love to do (even if only for a minute), you will also put your time to much better use. This, in turn will have you feel better about your life in general.
After all, as Bruce Lee put it:
"If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of."
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