“I’m Too Busy.” Sound Familiar?

This is something I struggle with on an annual basis (during tax season).  I have a real job – one that exists very far away from my internet projects.  I have no problem meeting the obligations of that job, even if it’s stressful at times.

Sometimes, however, the real stress isn’t about what I’m doing at my job – it’s what I’m not doing outside my job because “I’m too busy.”  I have projects that I’d like to be working on, but at the same time, I also want to enjoy what little free time I have outside of work (which tends to happen when you’re working 60+ hours a week).

So how do you fight this urge to simply say, “I’m too busy”?  How do you maintain productivity with your side projects when your “real” life is consuming most of your time? This post will be short and sweet, but hopefully it’ll generate some good discussion.

I’ll be honest – this post is kind of selfish.  I’m writing this in the hopes that I can figure out how to get myself back to being productive while I’m really busy with my “day job.”

Here are some of the ideas and ramblings on my mind…

Fighting the Urge to…Enjoy Your Free Time?

I think this is the most difficult part for me when it comes to being too busy.  I’m all about working hard, but when you’ve been working hard for 12 hours in a day, it’s hard to come home and keep working when you know you don’t have to.

Furthermore, we all have things we enjoy doing: watching TV, playing games, hanging out with friends and family. When your day is cut short, you need to make the difficult decision of what you cut out.  Sometimes, because you’ve already been working all day, you find it a lot easier to cut out the extra work.

Mini To-Do List

This is something I need to get back to doing.  Having a to-do list, even if it’s small, can really help you stay accountable to getting something done.

When you break down your goals or tasks into bite-sized pieces, they’re a lot easier to tackle. Maybe all it takes is creating a one-item to-do list each morning before you go to work, so that when you get home, you know exactly what you need to do.

Sometimes half the battle is just figuring out what, of the many many things on your list, you should work on.  And often times, you find yourself throwing your hands up in the air and deciding not to do anything, because of the overwhelming list of things to do (I know this happens to me).

Here’s a good Tim Ferriss quote:

“Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective – doing less – is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.” – Tim Ferriss

Revisiting Goals

One thing I often forget to do is revisit my goals.  Sometimes when you’re feeling unproductive, all you need is a glance at your goals to whip yourself into shape.  As I look at my 2013 goals, I realize I have a long road ahead of me.

As much as I’d like to, I don’t think I can put them off until after April 15th (the tax deadline), so I need to find a way to do something each day (even if it’s really small) that helps me inch closer to my goals.

Look Back to Things that Motivate You

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with your goals – hopefully your goals motivate you.

But there are other good motivators out there.  For example, I love reading about Pat Flynn’s success story with his niche site that started out as a little informational site about security guard training and has now blossomed into a vast resource that earns him over $3,000/month.

Stories like that are incredibly motivating (to me), and sometimes that’s the push you need to become productive again.

What About You?

I told you this post would be short and sweet! (I’ve got work to do.)  What helps you to become motivated when you feel like you’re too busy to do anything outside of your real obligations (regular job, etc.)?

Please do share in the comments – thanks! 

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24 Responses to ““I’m Too Busy.” Sound Familiar?”

  1. I do think having a todo list or a goals list goes a long way towards being able to help towards getting things done rather than being busy. And it’s essential to be able to review this list on occasion and also be able to carve out a little time each week to work on them.
    Mike recently posted… Android App Store List, Part One

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Definitely, Mike – thanks for the comment.

    [Reply]

  2. I hear ya Eric. Maybe I can provide some inspiration. I worked in banking for 13 straight years before taking the leap of faith last year to work full time online. Hours were also 60+ hour weeks, so I got up at 5:30am-6am for the last three years to work on my stuff before going to work.

    I committed to 3-5 articles every single week bc I wanted to be free to do by own thing. It’s been around 9 months being jobless, and I have to say it is wonderful. You don’t have to worry about not enough time when the time comes. When you truly want it, you will do it bc that is the human way!

    Sam
    Sam recently posted… How to Lose A Million Dollars And Live To See Another Day

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    That actually does help – thank you, Sam. Unfortunately, I already do wake up at 5 am and don’t think I can get up much earlier. :P For me to get that extra productivity, it’ll have to happen in the evening.

    I’ll work at it though, and it’ll sort of resolve itself (temporarily) when tax season is over. Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  3. It is nice to revisit the thought that doing LESS really well might actually be the best productivity tool. Now to think about that in the context of my own projects…
    Mike recently posted… The LTNE Report — February 2013

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    “Less is more” is sometimes very true – thanks for the comment, Mike.

    [Reply]

  4. I’ was struggling with the same and found that making myself accomplish at least 1 task a day had helped tremendously. I’ve also given myself 2 days off from my side business per week, and unless I have some super cool plans I try not to make those two days off the same as my 9-5.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Sounds like you’ve been able to find a good strategy there – thanks for the comment, Cindy.

    [Reply]

  5. Something I’ve rediscovered recently (thanks for the Market Samurai dudes) is rather than focus on what I need to do, focus on why I am doing it i.e. to be free of work and live the life I want to live.

    Keeping this fresh in my mind means that motivation levels stay topped up through the times of procrastination.

    All the best Eric
    Dan recently posted… Devastating events. Tough times. Moving Forward.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Good point, Dan – it definitely helps to keep in mind WHY we are doing what we do, instead of just focusing on going through the motions mindlessly.

    [Reply]

  6. I know what you mean, I’m still working my 9 to 5 but hopefully this is the year I can go into IM full time.

    Just curious, have you ever tried outsourcing a few of your daily IM tasks? Like writing for Squidoo or Infobarrel for example.

    You got me intobarrel a couple years ago, but now I don’t really have the motivation to write articles everyday so I’m considering outsourcing this and seeing what happens.
    Tim Sartin recently posted… Income Report [February 2013]

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I’ve outsourced writing a lot before – when I stay focused with it, it’s a big help, but ultimately I still end up reviewing the writing for quality purposes, which still takes time. I plan on getting back to outsourcing soon, but right now, at the point I’m at with my projects, it still makes sense for me to be very hands-on.

    [Reply]

  7. Having To-Do list is really essential to complete your all important time. this also ensures your work completing on time and you can get some free time for yourself.
    Aasma recently posted… MLM Software India

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    Eric G. Reply:

    Definitely – thanks Aasma!

    [Reply]

  8. Lots of good stuff here. I agree with having goals or a to-do list but the key is a realistic one. I find that I’ll start to create a Saturday afternoon to-do list but end up with a brain dump wish list. Both are good, but only a short list of immediate actions helps in the moment.

    Here are a couple things I’ve done when in a similar position.

    1 – life is about balance but balance rarely occurs in the moment by moment or the day by day. Balance is month by month or qtr by qtr. Sometimes its ok to acknowledge and accept that at this time I’ll be out of balance here and here and that’s ok. It releases the mental angst and can be baked into your plans.

    2 – I’ll typically allocate some time in the mornings and evenings and I’ll schedule those blocks to include down time. Tuesday night might be “TV night” and Thursday morning might be “sleep in day”. I find these rewards make it easier to work when its time to work because I know I’m being fair and realistic.

    Of course please share any breakthroughs you have because we’re all in this game together.

    Thanks,
    Dave
    Dave recently posted… 100 Life Goals, Make Your Own Bucket List

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    Eric G. Reply:

    Awesome point, Dave. I’ve pretty much resigned to the fact that, until April 15th, my productivity will be extremely limited. If I can be productive, great, but if not, I shouldn’t let myself stress out over it.

    I’ll definitely keep you up to date on any breakthroughs (if I have them).

    [Reply]

  9. That’s what I’ve been struggling with these last two years – Eric.

    I have the privileged to work in my home office doing my freelancing but there’s really no divide between the grind and off time.

    Then there’s the urge and nagging feeling that the hour I wind down on watching a show or playing a game could have been placed toward doing more work since it’s sitting in the next room.

    Lately, I’ve just been going with the flow. I try not to think about it as much these days and try to just take it as it comes along. If something urgent pops up than I’ll do it, no doubt, but I learned my lesson from working too much since it places too big of a strain on your friends, family, and loved ones.

    For me, I won’t pass up an opportunity to spend time with people I care about just to make some extra coin.

    The mini list is a good way to go about things, I have to say. I generally use them at times when I can’t get sleep but too tired to work on anything really big (generally really late at night).

    Keep in there man. Tax season almost over and then you’ll get back into action.
    Murray Lunn recently posted… How to Keep a Constant Workflow (when you’ve got Irregular Hours)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great comment, thanks Murray. Always glad to hear from others who struggle with the same thing!

    “Going with the flow” seems to be my plan of attack right now. If I can get work done, I’ll get it done, but if not, I won’t stress out over it.

    [Reply]

  10. when I’m too busy I simply cut my to do list and move tasks to the next day. there is always another day. yes, it takes longer to get to the destination, but i love the ride. as long as im inching closer i feel good.
    Sunil l Expediting Wealth Creation recently posted… Using the Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) to Boost Your Adsense Earnings

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Good point, Sunil. I think as long as you get SOMETHING done, it’s okay to occasionally shift the rest of your to-do list to the next day.

    [Reply]

  11. So sad, quite often I also shift the rest of my to-do list to the next day when too busy. Thank for all your ideas.. I really need some changes:(

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    It doesn’t feel good, but sometimes it’s necessary. Just make sure that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it in the right order. :)

    [Reply]

  12. That Tim Ferris quote summs it up all up.

    My best advice is to concentrate on the tasks that create you money while ignoring the rest.

    I like to make a daily to-do list and check them off as they are completed that why you are not wasting hours being unproductive.

    Nice blog post Tim Ferrises 4 hour work week is a great book for those of you who did not read it:)
    Jay recently posted… Make More Money Online | My List Of The Best Internet Marketing Courses, Products, And Services Of All Time!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    That’s some great advice, Jay. In my case, the tasks that create me the most money relate to my “9 to 5″ job, which is why I haven’t had much time for anything else. :)

    [Reply]

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