Do you sit in bed, reflecting on what you did that day, and realize all you did was work and eat? Do you get to a Sunday afternoon wondering where all of your ‘free’ time went?

To be honest, a decade ago, I was the same way. Mind you, I ‘wasted’ a lot of time playing video games, binging Netflix, or downloading and re-watching movies I had seen before. Then, I would get to a Sunday and wonder where my time went.

A decade later, I look back at all the things I have accomplished outside of work. It’s a good exercise for you too if you haven’t reflected in a while. You’re likely more accomplished than you think you are. But for me:

  • Written and self-published seven books and one audiobook
  • Co-host of two podcasts (not at the same time)
  • Uber driver (part-time)
  • Professional speaker / workshop facilitator
  • A few hundred different blog articles
  • Thousands of hours spent reading books, taking notes, distilling lessons

I don’t share the list to brag – I share the list because I made one small tweak in my life to accomplish these things (and I bet the one tweak can help you accomplish more too).

The problem

As you can imagine, your time is a lot like your money. At the beginning of the week, you have 168 hours to spend on whatever you want. You can sleep 8 hours a day. Work takes 8 (or more) hours a day. You need time to eat. Socialize. Read. But the problem is that you have these things you ‘have’ to do. Your job. Spending time with your family. And by the time you allocate your time to those items, you have no time left for personal projects.

Why not take a lesson from The Wealthy Barber and apply it to your time?

A related lesson from The Wealthy Barber

Even though you were probably looking for the strategy I use to accomplish more, let me share a related lesson from The Wealthy Barber by Dave Chilton. The book is a great read, but the one big takeaway I got from it (and it’s about finances and money) is to pay yourself first. What that means is you save 20% of your pay check, once you receive your pay, and invest it. You won’t notice the 20% gone (and you should take it out of your account right away into an investment account before you are tempted to spend it). You might think “20% is too much” and “I always spend all of my pay on needed expenses”. If 20% is really too much, take 10% or even 1% of your pay check. The point is if you pay yourself first, you will come out ahead.

Pay yourself first

Every week, I set aside 2 hours to work on personal projects. Writing books, blogging, researching/reading books. Some weeks, I’ll wake up early to get the time in the mornings. Other weeks, I’ll stay a little later at work but carve out the time for personal projects. Instead of allocating whatever time is ‘leftover’ to my personal projects (miraculously, due to Parkinson’s Law, I have no time leftover), I ‘cut out’ two hours from my week to devote to personal projects, and the remaining activities fill in 166 hours.

It’s a different way of thinking about your time, and one, I think, you will be quite happy with as you miraculously gain two hours a week to do whatever you want (or rather, work on things you find you didn’t have time for before).