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How I found an extra hour in every day in 2022 (spoiler alert: I didn't)

It’s the start of the year and blogs everywhere are full of posts about time management. Starting energy is in the air, and the world feels full of infinite possibility—like we can do anything if we put our minds to it.

Yet often once we set our writing goals, a strange thing happens: we work out that if we break these goals down, they require more time to execute than we currently have available.

We need an extra hour in every day.

I'm an eternal optimist. I believed there was an extra hour somewhere. Yet realistically—that simply wasn’t the case.

A clock is hanging from a chain in front of a leafy footpath
Photo: Unsplash

Last year, I’d thought I could find it. Surely I could.

But that the extra hour wasn’t foolproof.

At first, I thought the extra hour could be found while my family was sleeping. I’m not a night person, so I started getting up at 5am right as the clock switched over to Daylight Savings time, which meant it felt like 4am. It was a challenge, but it worked. Things were going well for one week, then two. I was getting new words. I was enjoying the magic of pre-dawn.

Then my kids—dramatic pause—adjusted to the new time zone. And even though they’d never done it before, they started waking at 5am with me.

After a week of this, I should have accepted that my extra hour wasn’t going to magically reappear. Instead, I tried putting the children to sleep later at night (it didn’t work). I tried shortening the youngest’s day naps (absolute disaster). I even tried wearing the children out physically prior to bed with swims, bike rides, and walks (this one wore us all out and while I slept through my alarm, the kids managed to wake me regardless). And each day, I continued to adjust my goal, which only served as a daily reminder that I wasn’t hitting my target. Then, instead of feeling good about my novel, I felt … like a failure. I didn’t look forward to writing again. And so eventually I just … didn’t. I stopped writing at all.

As the end of the year drew near, I started thinking about writing goals for 2023 and if I would even have any. What was the point when I couldn’t find the time to execute my plans?

The optimist in me said I’d find the time—but she whispered this time. She didn’t yell like she normally did. She said that the kids would sleep better this year (they would be older, after all). I would be less busy with work. I’d be stronger and not succumb to any late-night reading binges.

That’s when I had a mini revelation—I needed to goal-set for the life I was living now, not the life I wanted to lead.

Yes, perhaps waking an hour early works for some. But it wasn’t working for me, and I couldn’t make plans like it always would.

I didn’t need to find an extra hour in every day. Instead, I needed to choose it.

What does that mean or look like? It means that I need to intentionally carve out time to prioritise my writing. This might mean I block breaks in between editing and coaching clients to write words. It might mean I choose near enough instead of chasing perfection when it comes to things like a tidy house or a meal plan. And it might sometimes mean that I take 100 words as my daily goal instead of the ideal 1000.

I am choosing to find time for words. I won’t find time, like it’s playing a game of hide-and-seek with me. I will choose it. I will choose to make it a priority for the me that I am now—not the me that I’d like to be.

And in choosing that, I’ve found a new acceptance of the process and fallen in love with writing all over again.

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