Too Much Time: When Accomplishing Goals Takes Discipline

This week’s post addresses how to keep yourself on task when you are not busy. Yes, this is a legitimate topic: Lots of us do better at accomplishing important tasks when we’re busy than when we have a lot of free time.

Many of us are closet procrastinators who struggle to achieve daily discipline. Yet it’s vital to master productivity habits, especially for those of us who are entrepreneurs, business owners, freelancers or authors. Failing to get our work done means lost clients, less books or products sold, lessened ability to conquer our goals. When we’re busy, it’s hard to get things done, that goes without saying.

But when we’re not busy, it can be even harder.

I’m serious. Perhaps it’s because we tend as Americans to live such on-the-go lives that when things slow down, we get lazy and don’t want to do anything. Perhaps we lose our drive, our sense of panic.

But the more free time I have, the more tempted I am to put off important tasks. And I’m not alone. Fellow writer Serena Saint-Marceaux shared with me her challenge of writing like this:

“I don’t have a structured schedule that keeps me from having time to write… And sometimes that seems harder to deal with, almost, because there is no demarcation of ‘Oh, now that everything is finished for the day, now I can write.’ I just have to decide, ‘Now, I’ll set aside a couple of hours, or a half hour, or a few moments, to write.'”

There’s an important truth in Serena’s statement. When we’re not busy, we may feel no urgency to make a schedule of what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it. It can be temptingly easy to say to ourselves: “I’ll do that later, because I’ll have time for it later.” If that’s how we treat the important tasks that lead to accomplishing our goals, though, it’s the kiss of death for us.

No, if we have goals we want to accomplish, then we need to schedule, or set aside, a length of time to work on those goals on a regular basis. And if that’s the only appointment we make for ourselves on a slow day, that’s fine. It’s still an appointment we need to keep…one that matters greatly to ourselves.

It’s a form of self-care for us to fit time in for the things that matter the most — whether it’s building a business, taking time for loved ones, or scheduling in a much-needed vacation. All these things are important to caring for ourselves and achieving our vision for our lives.

For writers like me, the act of writing is such a part of who we are that we aren’t really being our full selves if we don’t do it sometime. And I’m sure that’s true of you. Whatever it is that you see as a vital part of you — that’s who you are. Make time for that part of you in your daily planning.

If you have the freedom to set your own schedule (as many freelancers and entrepreneurs do), then you might want to experiment with different times for working on your goals, until you find the time that is most productive for you. But do yourself a favor and make a daily appointment with yourself to work on your key life goals, so that the day doesn’t get away from you. You’re worth it, and so are your goals.

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