Who wouldn’t want an extra hour in their day?
It’s easy to feel like we don’t have enough time to do what we want to do in our days. Between family, work, chores, and activities we feel stretched thin. But the truth is that most of us already have that free hour; we just don’t realize it yet.
Here is how to find it.
What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
Think about this first. What would you do with your extra hour? Would you pursue a hobby? Check off some cleaning? Work towards a personal goal? Maybe just sleep?
Write a list of the things you wish you could accomplish in a day. This list can include items you’d like to add to your daily routine, goals you’re working toward, hobbies you’d like to pick up, and whatever else comes to mind. Be sure it includes things you really want to or need to do, and not just things you think you should be doing.
Here is an example:
- Read (a book/scripture/articles)
- Get a workout in
- Learn a new language
- Fold laundry
- Plan for the week
- Write a blog post
Look to your long-term goals for inspiration. If you’re trying to get out of debt, maybe you’d like to spend that extra hour reviewing your finances or working on a side business. If you would like to advance your career, perhaps you want to take an eCourse or read industry articles. If you’re committed to getting healthier, maybe you would spend that hour on a workout program or meal prepping. We can chip away at goals a little at a time if we make time for them.
Where is my extra hour?
Take a moment and think about what you do on your average day. If you’re like me, you feel like you’re constantly busy. It’s easy to think you couldn’t possibly fit anything else into your schedule.
But do you do any of the following? Watch TV, scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feed, browse Pinterest, commute to work or school, lounge in bed before officially getting up, or maybe just let yourself get lost in thought for a while? We all need breaks from the chaos, but it is in these times that we have the opportunity to fit in that extra hour.
Write a list of what you typically do in a day. Be honest with yourself, and be sure to include distractions that you usually fall into (i.e. mini-Netflix marathons). Try to be as thorough as possible. Here is an example:
- Hit snooze on alarm
- Feed the baby
- Get ready for the day
- Make breakfast
- Make dinner
- Clean up
- Watch TV
- Scroll social media before bed
What could you accomplish if you took just five minutes from every hour and put it towards your goals?
Look at your list and identify times you could easily carve out five minutes. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Before getting out of bed in the morning
- While getting ready for the day
- During your commute
- In between work sessions (work for 25 min, take a break for 5)
- While cooking/prepping meals
- During commercial breaks (typically 2-3 minutes per break)
The idea is not to overload yourself by “multi-tasking”. It’s to find time you already have to spare and put it towards your goals. Five minutes doesn’t seem like much at first, but it adds up over time if you’re focused on using it wisely. Just taking five minutes of every hour will give you 60-80 minutes “extra” in your day.
Decide what you’ll do with your extra hour
Now that you know what you want to accomplish and you’ve identified your extra hour, it’s time to create a plan for how you’ll spend your time.
Write a list of the five minute tasks that will help you work toward your goals. These can either be independent tasks or longer tasks broken into five minute intervals. This will be your reference when you find you have a few moments to spare.
Here are a few examples:
Goal: Keep the House Clean
- empty the dishwasher
- wipe down counters
- dust off surfaces
- put in a load of laundry
- fold 5 minutes worth of clothing
- empty trash bins
- pick up toys
- sort mail
Goal: Get Healthier
- do a 5-minute full body workout (I love the Sworkit app for these)
- do 100 jumping jacks
- do 25 pushups
- lift weights
- prep a healthy snack for the day
- drink a tall glass of water
- brainstorm healthy meals for the week
Goal: Learn Something New
- read a book for 5 minutes
- watch a 5 minute TED Talk
- read an article
- learn new vocabulary
- listen to a podcast
- watch a YouTube video on a new subject
When you find you have a few minutes free, you simply pick a task off your list. You may even find that by completing routine tasks throughout the day you have more time in the evening, allowing you that extra sleep you’ve been wanting.
Tools & Tips
There are a few tools I’ve been using that have helped me fit in these extra tasks:
- Timers – I mostly ask Siri to set a timer in the moment, but doing so makes sure I won’t loose track of time.
- Sworkit – As I mentioned, I use this fitness app for five minute workouts (for the times I can’t motivate myself to fit in a full workout).
- Feedly – This blog reader allows me to collect all my favorite newsfeeds and browse them together (so I can limit my distractions when I only have time for one article).
- Daily Planning Sheet – I use a daily sheet I made to help keep track of the five minute tasks I know I want to accomplish each day, along with the rest of my schedule.
Here are a few other tips I’ve found helpful:
- Find audiobooks, podcasts, TED Talks, or audio-courses for times you know you’ll only be able to listen along – commutes, meal prep, etc.
- Make use of your commercial breaks (unless you’re a Netflix fan – then use the time between episodes) – see how much laundry you can fold or how many sit-ups you can do before the show returns.
- Check in with yourself every now and then to see if you’re in a productive state of mind or simply lost in thought – at those times look at your list and see if you can work on something else instead.
- Even on your busiest days see if you can take two minutes at a time to drink an extra glass of water, meditate, or jot down your thoughts (these will be more effective breaks than scrolling through Twitter).
The goal isn’t to overwhelm yourself with an endless list of tasks to fit into your already busy day. It’s to purposefully make time in your day to work towards your goals.
So tell me, what do you plan to do with your extra hour? Share in the comments below!