How to Prioritize Personal Projects

Industriousness is the way of the modern world.

Whether you’re in school, at work, commuting, doing housework or getting groceries, it seems our generation is always occupied doing something or the other. 

While being busy certainly feels productive, it can be difficult to find time for personal projects — smaller endeavours or creative hobbies that bring personal joy and fulfillment. Despite the push to achieve greatness within our professional lives, it’s important to remember that your job doesn’t define you as a human being, and that we must learn to prioritize personal time as well.

Here are three tips to help you give equal attention to personal projects:

Create a Schedule

The importance of creating a schedule can’t be understated. This is how you’ll organize and prioritize your responsibilities, while also fitting in time for rest and relaxation. Inserting personal projects into a schedule typically reserved for work might seem overbearing at first, but it’s the easiest way to treat all your tasks equally.

It’s true that work tends to eat up the majority of our day but you’ll find that simple organization and initiative can help you create time for personal projects. A typical work-day ends at five o’clock and an hour or two may be added for commuting and making dinner. If you schedule half-an-hour every weekday to focus on a personal project and an hour on each weekend. That’s already five hours of allotted time. If you multiply that by four, you have roughly 24 dedicated to personal projects in a month.

A platform such as Outlook or Google Calendar can help you keep track of your schedule. Alternatively, for those who prefer traditional means, bullet journaling is a fun, trendy way to creatively plan out each week.

Have Others Hold You Accountable

Most people are more efficient when there is a deadline to meet and we are being held accountable by a superior. With personal projects, it’s easy to cut ourselves some slack and resolve to finish the task later. Having someone hold you accountable can help you overcome this. We naturally try to put our best foot forward when someone is watching, so enlisting a trusted friend or family member who can check in on your progress and motivate you to finish on time can make a world of difference. A great tip is to share your schedule with them, so that they’re aware of upcoming deadlines. Plus, support from family and friends will motivate you!

Of course, while having someone hold you accountable is vital, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself, which brings us to our final tip.

Set Realistic Expectations

Ultimately, managing professional and personal life is difficult. If you’re someone who juggles a lot of side projects, it can easily feel like there’s no time for yourself. However, you need to redefine your expectations of productivity and see value in the time you are able to dedicate.

Let’s say you’re an aspiring creative writer attempting to complete one short story a week. You’ve also just started a new job, and have quickly found that it’s nearly impossible to meet all your deadlines without burning out. An easy solution is to decrease the strain of your personal goals by writing one story biweekly, or once a month.

That’s what redefining your expectations means. Set realistic goals and acknowledge that you need time to rest. Your value isn’t determined by how productive you are. When you set achievable goals, you’ll find your productivity actually increases. When that happens, you’ll feel better about your successes rather than disappointed at what was out of reach.

Good luck!

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