When my first book was published, I had a lot of people tell me they had always dreamed of writing a book. I would usually ask them, "Why don't you?" Their answer was always the same, "I can't find the time," having pushed the idea back into the "someday" category of their daydreams. "How did you find the time?" was usually their next question. And it's still one I get asked a lot.
I am the mother of five children including two sets of twins who were born 20 months apart. That alone makes for a chaotic, busy life. But putting myself through college, becoming a television news anchor, and writing several books all while taking care of my children insured that I had a very full life, indeed!
So how did I find the time to write books while raising all those kids, going to school and then working full-time? The answer is simple. I found time to make it happen. And I've become an expert at finding that time, but it was something I didn't know how to do in the beginning. I had to learn as I went along. My first novel took me years to complete, but when I wrote my most recent book I was like a machine. I was focused and completed the 400-page book in less than two months.
The time is out there to make your dreams come true, you just need to find it. Here are 10 tips that can help you harness that time so you can achieve your goals.
1. Prioritize your life in writing
Make a list of what you must do to reach your goals and set an amount of time for each item. Make daily lists from this master list. Assign an amount of time to each task. Keep tasks simple and specific - this will help you stay focused.
2. Set the stage for success
If writing a book is your dream, then find a place that is conducive to writing. Trying to write at the kitchen table with kids, TV and banging cupboards isn't going to work. If running a marathon is your aim, buy the right shoes and plan your training course.
3. Visualize yourself as already successful
Imagine your life after you achieve your dream - how you will feel, what it will mean to you, how the future will look. Do this every day and live like you're already there. Half the battle is accepting that you can do it.
4. Get rid of clutter
This means in every area of your life. Remove old clothes from your closet and donate them. Clean the fridge and pantry of old and expired food. Simplify your home by removing knickknacks and other items that are not needed and only collect dust. Avoid relationships that are negative and time-consuming - steer clear of people who have no desire to see you succeed.
5. Schedule your "project time" and make it mandatory
Make it the same time each day. Shut out any distractions and work on your dream. Ask your family to run interference for you. If you get a phone call, for example, tell family members to take a message for you. Not only will this help you get your project done, but also instill in your kids and spouse how important it is to you.
6. Turn off the television
This coming from a former television news anchor may seem odd, but I hardly ever watch TV and when I do, I always have a chore that I'm completing at the same time. I fold clothes, file my nails or clean out drawers. Also, I never turn the television on unless there is a specific show I plan to watch; when it is over I immediately turn off the TV. Having it on for "background" noise is inviting you to waste time by getting pulled into a show that you hadn't planned on watching. Americans spend an average of two to three hours a day watching TV. Imagine what you can do with that amount of time!
7. Get up 30 minutes early
Exercise, write, read, meditate, or just do whatever makes you feel pampered and refreshed. This will help you feel less stressed about not having enough time for yourself. Quiet solitude is a wonderful way to start the day and helps set your sights on your dream. You need about seven hours of sleep each night. That leaves 17 hours to reach your dreams.
8. Plan your day the night before
Prepare your lunch, set out your clothes, and plan your breakfast before you go to bed. It will make the morning much smoother. Look at your daily list and see what you were able to accomplish, then write your list for the day ahead.
9. Learn to say no
If your project is going to take six months, then make a vow that you will take on no other commitments until after that time. The word "no" can be one of the most difficult things to say, but if you don't, you will be working toward someone else's goals instead of your own.
10. Be accountable
Tell others about your desire to complete your project and how you are scheduling time for it. They will then be less likely to encroach on that time and be more understanding. They will also help hold you accountable for getting it done.
Having goals and dreams are what invigorate us and keep us excited about life, but unless you take the steps necessary to achieve those dreams, they can become one of life's biggest frustrations. The journey is what makes the accomplishment worthwhile. Begin your journey this week by choosing one of the 10 suggestions listed in this article and start applying it.
There are 24 hours in your day. Spend them on making your dreams come true!