How to make time for anything

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Ever since I started writing about time management, I've had people keep time logs for me. A time log is basically like a food journal for your time. You write down how you're spending your hours in order to learn to spend them better. I ask people to record a full 168 hours (1 week) to get a complete picture of their time.

Recently, I had a busy businesswoman share her log with me. She was traveling a lot, and spent a big chunk of the week on the road. I wasn't surprised by that. What was surprising? On the Wednesday she recorded, she had a curious entry in the morning: Run - 8 miles.

I like to run, too, but 8 miles is usually a weekend run. It's not the kind of thing most people fit in before work, even if they are fast, and even if they start at the crack of dawn, which she hadn't. She started running at 7:30 a.m.

I asked how that had happened, and she told me it was a surprise to her too. She'd asked the hotel about running routes, and they told her about a 4 mile "loop." They neglected to mention it was 4 miles out and 4 miles back. So she ran the full 8 miles by accident.

But here's the funny thing. Her day didn't completely fall apart because she ran 8 miles in the morning. She just started a little later. The rest of her activities for the day got squeezed a little, but she managed to get them done.

The lesson? When it comes to fitting things into our lives, it's better to play offense than defense. If she'd tried to fit in an 8 mile run around everything else, it probably wouldn't have happened. But once she did it, the rest of her life accommodated that time.

Likewise, if you have a big personal project you're trying to tackle, you can wait until the perfect time. Or you can realize there will never be a perfect time when you have nothing else on your plate. Better to do what you want to do -- and let everything else fall where it will.

How do you make time for big personal projects?


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