You’ve probably seen the meme. I’ll admit to re-posting it before myself. It’s simple words at once meant to uplift and inspire a little bit of guilt. “You could be doing more,” it seems to say. “You’re not living up to your full potential."
You have the same 24 hours in every day as Beyonce.
But the thing is, you don’t. And neither do I.
My lifestyle doesn’t look remotely similar to Beyonce’s (and trust me, I have all the love for Queen Bey…these are just the facts). Beyonce is a mega rich superstar and half of one of the world’s most affluent power couples. She has a busy and demanding career, no doubt. But she doesn’t ever have to worry about how she’s going to pay the bills or when she’s going to fit in mundane tasks like cooking her own meals or cleaning the laundry, unless she wants to. In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, she’s got the bases covered. She’s free to commit everything she’s got to creating powerful creative work and becoming a self-actualized human being.
But the thing is, you don’t need the same 24 hours as Beyonce to achieve your dreams. The personal chef, the driver, & the masseuse might sound nice (of course they do!) but in your heart you know you can do the big things you were put on this earth to do without them.
So you might not have as many hours in a day as Beyonce. Hell, you might not even have as many hours in a day as I do! You might have kids, the confines of a 9-5 job, or other obligations that I don’t. Just like I have different commitments and priorities than you.
But that’s what freedom and lifestyle design are all about: taking intentional, inspired action within the confines of your personal situation. Exercising your power of choice. There are some things we have the power to change and others that we don’t, so it’s important to focus on the former and work within our sphere of influence, rather than banging our head against a brick wall we wish wasn’t there.
I like to tell my students in The Daydream Revolution a story about the power of lunch breaks. Those 30-60 minutes you get to yourself each and every work day (please, tell me you take a lunch break!) I use the example of writing your first book. So many people get hung up on the idea, believing that they need hours and hours locked away by themselves, banging away at their keyboard in order to achieve this. And between their full-time job and all of their other commitments, they rarely get one full day to themselves, let alone weeks on end.
Enter the lunch break.
Over the course of last year, I wrote over 50,000 words on my lunch breaks. I found that in the 30-45 minutes I had spare, I could consistently write 500-1000 words a day and boy oh boy did they ever add up! This is how I ended up writing my first courses and ebooks.
Say you can only average 250 words each and every lunch break. In a year (factoring in a couple of weeks off because surely you’ll need it at some point) you’ll have written 62,500 words – almost the length of an average manuscript.
But hey, this post is all about the fact that we don’t all have the same 24 hours in every day and maybe you don’t have a lunch break you can dedicate to your dream. That’s okay. I’m going to walk you through some simple steps for finding small pockets of time in your day that will add up exponentially over time. It’s all about becoming intentional with them, whether that’s working towards a specific project or choosing to infuse a little more magic into your day. It all adds up.
I don’t really like to think of it as “hacking” my day because that feels a bit too violent and impersonal for the kind of embodied, guided life I want to live. For me, it’s all about intentionally designing a life I love.
Here’s are the 4 steps I use for finding my dream hours:
Step 1. Track your time.
For most of us, our days look more or less the same week in and week out, so we aren't truly conscious of how we're spending our time since we're not very intentional about it. We probably assume that how we spend our time is exactly how it needs to be due to our commitments and obligations, and most of us feel like we just don't have any extra time. Period.
Tracking your time allows you to get super clear on how you’re spending your precious life minutes.
Just like creating a budget and tracking your expenses allows us to see exactly how we’re spending our money and where we can cut back, tracking your time will allow you to do the same.
Plus, monitoring is a proven strategy for sticking with a goal or forming a habit. So if you decide there are changes you want to make, this is going to help.
This exercise is simple but it’s not easy. The best way I’ve found to be successful with this is to check in with yourself once an hour (or even every 30 minutes) and make notes of how you spent that block of time. For some mindless tasks, like switching over to scroll through Facebook, you’re definitely going to have to estimate but using a tracking app can help you be more accurate. And remember: we tend to overestimate how long we spend on productive tasks and underestimate our attention on mindless ones. So if you’re horrified to find that you’re wasting a couple of hours a day on pointless social media stalking, you’re likely clocking even more than that .
There are apps that you can install to help you track and monitor how much time you are spending on various online tasks. Here are a few good options: 8aweek, Wakoopa, or Meetimer will all give you a clearer picture of how you’re spending your time online.
In terms of tracking, I like to use a colour coded system, breaking things up into categories like: work, dreams, self-care/health, connection, leisure and then using coloured highlighters to note in my planner what I spent each hour doing with a few annotated notes to get more specific. You could also apply this system to your Google Calendar. Or you can get even more high tech and use a free time tracking app like, Hours, Jiffy, or Rescue Time. The key is to pick a system you can stick with for at least a few days, preferably a week or more, to get a really clear picture of how you’re spending your time.
Step 2. Assess the results.
You might be surprised at the results of your time tracking or it might just tell you what you already know. Either way, be gentle with yourself.
Information is power so now it’s time to take a look at how you’re spending your time and ask yourself a few questions:
- Are you happy with how you’re spending your time?
- Are there any places you could cut back on certain activities in order to make room for things that are more important for you?
- Are there any obvious pockets of time that you could use more mindfully and intentionally to support your dreams and the life you want?
Take note of your answers and any new intentions you have based on your findings.
Step 3. Identify your dream hours.
Your dream hours are those pockets of time you can recommit everyday or every week to slowly but surely making your dreams come true. Ideally they’ll be at least 30 minutes or more a time but work with what you’ve got. Write down exactly when and what days you’ve identified dream hours you can work with.
Step 4. Decide what you want to do with them.
This is the really fun part: you get to decide what to do with this time!
Are you going to use them to work towards bringing your biggest dream to life? It’s important to know exactly how you’re going to use them.
Having a plan means that when you sit down to work, you don’t waste time figuring out what to do, you just do it. For some dreams, you’ll be sitting down to work on a similar task every day – like with the example of writing a book. For others, you’ll be completing different steps every day and perhaps working on new projects every week.
But working towards a monumental goal might not be important to you right now. Perhaps you want to use this time to cultivate your core desired feelings. Or move your body. Or infuse your life with pleasure. Or have more stillness. This is completely up to you. Right now I’m practicing Qoya every day for 30 days so I found some dream hours to commit to my embodiment practice. The key is to be intentional so that you can truly commit and form a habit.
So you might not have as many hours in a day as Beyonce, or even as many as the woman who sits across from you at work, but you do have the power to be intentional with your time. And however you choose to spend it, that intention will add up to a life you love, designed mindfully by you.