While we’re typically really good at calendaring meetings with others, we don’t usually schedule in time for activities we like to do alone – like journaling, getting back into water coloring, or taking a weekly hike with your dog. However, that usually means they’re the first to go when conflicts come up — in part because we don’t see them on our calendars when scheduling an appointment or call. So change that. Start blocking out time for your hobbies and activities that bring joy, even if you’re enjoying them alone.
I’ve had a client resist this, claiming scheduling those downtime activities would make her feel too rigid and stifled. If you have a similar aversion, try to reframe a calendar’s role in your mind. By scheduling those activities, you’re not forcing yourself to do them – you’re protecting time for those activities from the other meetings and action items that will definitely try to take over that time slot. How you spend your time reflects your priorities. If certain activities affect your happiness, prioritize and protect them. To do that, block out the time you’ll need to do them in your calendar.
Plus, you don’t need to be rigid with it. For example, if you know you like to hike on Friday around 4pm, schedule a repeating, weekly two-hour block in your calendar for your hike. Now, one week, let’s say you get an invitation for an event at 4pm that Friday. You look at your calendar and are reminded of your planned hike (which, if it weren’t in there, you may not remember until, on Sunday evening, you realized the reason you felt off was because you never got your hike in this week). If you want to go to the event, you can look to find a free two-hour block on another day for the hike. If there isn’t space for the hike at another time, then you can decide whether the event is worth missing your weekly hike for.
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Regardless of what you decide to do, you’re now making an intentional decision about your priorities and how you want to spend your time instead of just reacting to life and crossing your fingers that you get your hike in that week. Use your calendar to maximize the chance that you’ll get to live the life you want to live by allowing you to be intentional and informed about how you spend your time.
So, your action item: think about what activities you love to do but don’t get to do often enough because … well, life. And stop letting life happen to you. Start using your calendar to make your life be what you want it to be.
In my Bright Method time management program we go over lots of actionable strategies to help protect your time.