When life gets busy, it's easy to let important-but-not-urgent priorities slide. You'd like to get a work-out in, but even if you only intend to run for, say, 30 minutes, there's still all that other time involved. You have to find your work out clothes, change, figure out what kind of outdoor gear you need, actually get yourself out the door and so forth. You can easily double the time an activity takes if you're not careful. And anytime you double the amount of time an activity takes, it starts to seem not worth it.
In other words, you get lost in transition.
Here's the issue. While it sounds smart to leave plenty of time for things, the reality is that transitions will take as much time as you give them. If you wake up an hour before you need to get out the door, you'll find some way for it to take an hour, whereas if you woke up half an hour before, you'd probably still manage to leave. This raises the question of whether you could have done something else with that time. Half an hour doesn't sound like much, of course. But given that many people claim that they don't have mere minutes for the things that matter to them, it's not insignificant.
But you don't have to fall into this trap. Last summer, when I was trying to squeeze in my runs into the early morning hours, I learned to set out my work-out clothes -- down to my ponytail holder -- on the floor the night before. I'd put my drivers license and key on top of them. That way I didn't have to hunt around for anything after the alarm went off. This increased the chances that I would actually run, rather than decide to go back to bed.
You can minimize transitions by lowering the transaction costs on all kinds of activities. If you've decided to take up drawing again, put your pencils and paper somewhere you'll see them, and where they're ready to go. That way, all you have to do is make a decision and you'll be making art within seconds. If you want to read for pleasure, keep an iPad or Kindle loaded with a book you'd like in your bag, in your car, or wherever you can access it when you're waiting. Rather than schedule calls every 30 minutes (as your calendar suggests), schedule ones that aren't top-priority every 20 minutes, or even every 10. If you give them less time, they'll take less time, and you won't lose those minutes in between them.
Which transitions take the longest in your life? How do you minimize them?