A good place to start: your lunch break.
Most of us have a designated chunk of time each day when we can hit pause on our work and briefly turn our attention to other things. But in practice, that often means scrolling through Instagram, responding to group texts, or taking care of various administrative odds and ends.
Why not reclaim that time for your personal projects and passions? Success, after all, is not created in one monumental act; instead, it’s built on a string of small, daily wins. Here are some tips for maximizing your lunch break to get things done.
Find your magic hour
Just because you have a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t find time each day to work on personal projects. It just means you have to be wise with the time that you have.A common piece of advice for those pursuing side projects is to work either early in the morning or late at night. If you’re able to do this, great, but there are often roadblocks, such as kids, long commutes, or your own circadian rhythm (your body just might not be meant to wake up at 4 a.m., despite what the “most successful people” do.) One of the biggest advantages of using your lunch hour is that you can tap into your daytime energy.
If your workday schedule allows it, take your daily break at the time when your mind is naturally invigorated. Are you most refreshed at 11 a.m.? That may be the time to grab your camera for a quick shoot in the city. Or maybe you feel your boldest at 1 p.m. That could be the time to pitch a new publication.
Plan a simple meal
Of course, you still need to use your lunch hour to eat lunch. Plan ahead so you don’t waste time and money. Try prepping meals on Sunday for the whole week, and choosing salads or other foods that don’t require you to wait in line for the office microwave.
Focus on one important task
The lunch break is not a time for writing out long to-do lists. Instead, you should already know exactly what you need to accomplish. Don’t get too ambitious — if you’re writing a book, for example, your goal could be to write 300 words.
If your project is one that requires equipment, you should have a separate bag for it, rather than stuffing everything into your work bag. If you’re rummaging around to find your materials among everything else you’ve packed for the day, it’s easy to get derailed by the sight of an overdue library book, bill, or an unfinished birthday card for your aunt. Keep yourself on task by eliminating those distractions.
Protect the hour
Most importantly, you need to protect this break in your day like the precious commodity it is. Could that errand be run before or after work? Can that call be pushed a bit later? Could that lunch date wait a couple of weeks until you finish this project?
Just because you have a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t find time each day to work on personal projects. It just means you have to be wise with the time that you have.