5 simple steps to find more time for the things you love

Those with busy careers often complain that they don’t have time for much else aside from work. While that might be great for someone who really loves their job, it’s important to find happiness outside the office as well. Whether you love reading, going to the gym, hiking, cooking, dancing, martial arts, boxing, or even knitting, having a hobby can greatly improve and enrich your life. So, how can you find the time to do what you love while juggling a busy legal career? Here are five simple steps to help you free up your time and do what you love.

Step One

Conduct a time audit so you know where all your time is going. A time audit is an effective way to help you see where most of your time is being spent, and whether you’re maximising your time for the most productivity. Spend a few days keeping track of everything you do and how long you spend doing it. Go over the results and categorise everything into one of three categories: urgent, neutral and worthless. If most of your time is spent on tasks you consider urgent or neutral, that’s great. But if you’re spending most of your time on worthless tasks, start working towards either drastically cutting the time spent on them, or cutting them out of your life completely. If they’re worthless tasks, you won’t miss them. Spend hours mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed? That's the perfect example of a worthless task.

Step Two

Get organised. Once you know where all your time is going, your next step is to learn how to manage it effectively. Time management is not about cramming as much into your day as you can, it’s about making sure you’re using each and every hour as efficiently and as productively as possible. Use a calendar or diary to keep track of your schedule and daily plan, keep your workspace tidy to avoid wasting time searching for things among the clutter and prioritise your work in order to know what needs to get done first.

Contrary to what you may think, multitasking is not an effective approach to time management. Neither is cramming your day so full that you wind up stressed out, exhausted and burnt out. These approaches are counter-productive and will likely lead to you achieving less!

Step Three

Delegate. If someone else can do it, then get them to do it. While it can be tempting to do everything yourself, sometimes it’s just not sustainable to do it all. Recognising when to assign certain tasks to other people can increase productivity, lower stress levels and free up your time for better things.

It might take more time initially to teach juniors to do certain tasks, but once you've taught them the first time, you can continue to delegate these tasks to them in the future. Make a list of tasks you could delegate to a junior, train them up and learn to enjoy letting go!

Step Four

Stop procrastinating! This is the biggest time-waster. Once you’ve completed all the above steps and you know what it is you need to get done, don’t put off doing it. The longer you procrastinate, the less time you have to spend on doing what you love. So, use your hobbies as motivation to stop scrolling through Facebook and start working instead.

Sometimes we procrastinate by waiting for “the perfect time” to do something. Here's a hint for you: the perfect time doesn't exist! As Mark Twain said, “continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection,” so just start.

Step Five

Switch off. When you’ve finished your work for the day, make sure you clock out mentally as well. There’s no point in making the time to do what you love if your mind is still on the job. So, turn off your phone, snooze all notifications and focus on being present and in the moment. It might feel selfish to put yourself first ahead of your job, but you have to find alignment in order to be your best self. Do what you love, purely because it makes you happy. You don’t need a better reason than that. Remember, your career is not your life – it’s just one part of it.

As much as you may think that taking time away from work to do the things you love is hurting your career, it's actually not. In fact, it's more than likely helping your career! So, start implementing these steps into your life and enjoy the extra time you'll save.