Lack of time is the often biggest barrier to making ideas happen. Find out how you can make time in busy schedules with these four approaches.

I’m not going to sugar coat it. Making ideas happen is tough – that’s why it’s a hustle. It involves time, effort and energy, often done as a side project alongside your other commitments.

Your life is full of important and urgent things to do. ‘Busy’ doesn’t even describe the demands on your time and attention. To fit a side project into your schedule you must make the time. It involves saying ‘no’ to nice offers, setting boundaries, and reprioritising what’s in your schedule so there’s space to make things happen.

>> Read more: 12 steps to build your happy hustle

4 approaches to making time

I’ve found four distinct time patterns to how people move their creative side projects ahead.

  1. The daily doer has a regular routine, often working in the same time and place, to nudge forward their idea.
  2. The scheduler looks ahead a week or two and blocks time into their calendar. They take a realistic and practical approach to planning and getting things done.
  3. The spontaneous hustler grabs any opportunity as it appears, making the most of delayed trains, cancelled meetings and sleeping children.
  4. The binger’s life is chock-full, so instead of a daily or weekly hustle, they binge every month or so on uninterrupted deep work, a progress-making day or days that are as productive as they are rare.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to making time; the important thing is to experiment and see what works. It will change, so don’t get stuck in your ways – allow a little spontaneity and combine approaches.

Don’t feel bad when you really don’t have the time, but make the most of when you do. You’ll surprise yourself by what you can achieve, even when you’re feeling tired and uninspired.

>> Read more: Find out how writers make time to write. Research with 3,500 writers shows the best approaches.

How to make time

Let’s try a quick exercise. How do you currently spend your time? Look back on the past week and consider what’s getting your attention or, even better, log your day-to-day activity as you do it to build up an accurate picture.

Then, imagine you could re-live that week bearing in mind your current commitments. How would you reorganise your schedule? What different choices would you make with your time? Were there opportunities you missed to work on your idea? Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing.

With that knowledge in mind, let’s look ahead. Plan when you can make time. Grab your calendar or draw a weekly schedule like the one below:

  • Fill in days across the top and your normal waking hours down the side.
  • Block out all the times you are already committed to things like work, childcare, exercise.
  • What’s left? Are there any opportunities? If yes, book in some idea time.
  • Not found any time? Reschedule other tasks to free up time. What can you stop doing or delegate? Can you get up earlier, go to work later? This is tough, but you can do it.
  • Commit to your schedule. Book time for your idea like any other appointment, set reminders and when you have a session – don’t get distracted. Try to make the best of what time you have. If you get stuck – start small.

Make time, make progress

Schedule No one knows how long it will take you to make your idea happen – just as your idea is unique, so is your approach to creating it.

The goal is to make progress regularly, so don’t worry about outputs and just yet, and instead build momentum bit by bit. It all adds up.



Featured image photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash, schedule illustration by Cara Holland for How to Have a Happy Hustle, Icon Books.