A question I’m most frequently asked is how I make time to do anything that isn’t momming and working at my day job. To give a frame of reference, in addition to working a full-time job, I work as a freelance content creator writing blog posts and social media content for influencers and entrepreneurs. I also have a consulting business helping moms strategize and organize their time so that they can create opportunities to engage in work that they’re passionate about.
To be fair, for a long time, momming and my day job was literally all I had time for and I was barely getting by with that. But I did have a breaking point. I’m naturally a creative person and I enjoy working on projects that allow me to express myself in more ways than my 9-5 allowed. I found myself becoming more and more stifled and frustrated because I felt like I was working like a dog but ignoring a big part of who I am. So after months of being angry at the world for not giving me enough time to do all the things I love, I decided to do something about it. I had to come up with a strategy.
FIGURE OUT WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
The first thing I needed to do was get clear on what it was that made me happy. About a year and a half ago I participated in a professional development workshop where I had to assess the activities that made me happy and help me feel fulfilled. The theory was that if we are feeling stressed out and unfulfilled it’s because there’s some particular need that fuels us that is not being met. The coach I was working with encouraged me to not ignore those needs because not meeting them would ultimately lead to a consistent decline in my productivity and overall wellbeing.
By doing the exercises, I learned that a few of my non-negotiables were having freedom to exercise my creative skills, a certain level of autonomy in my day-to-day activities (read, no micromanaging), and doing work that I personally felt was meaningful and impactful.
Now I realize that those ideas are very broad and not very practical in helping you figure out how to fit more of these kinds of activities into your day. But just keep reading. I won’t disappoint.
If we are feeling stressed out and unfulfilled it’s because there’s some particular need that fuels us that is not being met.
So let’s get to making your “Get Happy” list (I literally just made that up) by answering a few questions. I suggest you start by reflecting on the three prompts provided below.
Once you’ve written down answers to the prompts, think about what activities you could do to drive you towards those feelings again.
So using me as an example again, one of my non-negotiables is that I feel at my best when I’m engaged in projects that allow me to showcase my creativity. To incorporate more of this into my daily life, I started being intentional about volunteering for projects that allowed me to think creatively, whether it was volunteering to create flyers or social media posts for my entrepreneur friends or writing blog posts for my personal blog. These side projects gave me some variety outside of my day job, which at the time, was an enrollment manager, which meant that I spent most of my days looking at data and spreadsheets.
ASSESS YOUR TIME AND CAPACITY
Time and capacity are not the same thing.
TIME = Assessing how much time you have means thinking about the time you realistically have in a day to do an activity.
CAPACITY = Assessing capacity is about figuring out how much energy you have to devote to an activity.
Just because you have the time doesn’t mean you have the capacity and vice versa. So you have to figure out what activities are going to fit into the time you have available AND the capacity you have to complete it.
MAKE IT OFFICIAL. COMMIT YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES TO A SCHEDULE
You know how we say, if you didn’t post about it on IG or Facebook, did it really happen? Same principle applies to actually making your non-negotiables a real thing that you do every week. Grab your phone or your paper planner and add those activities to your schedule just like you would your kids’ doctor appointments or a very important business meeting. I’m not promising that you’ll get to it every day just by putting it on your calendar, but the chances of you making an honest effort at getting to it increase significantly because it at least keeps the activity on your radar.
Feeling stuck? Let’s chat! Drop some comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org