You like your job. And by most accounts you're pretty good at it, too.
But how long have you been putting off that extracurricular side project? You know, that book you want to write, that product you want to develop, or that inkling of an idea that could, once you finally get around to it, benefit your company and your career. Take a deep breath and say it with us, "I'm going to get started now." Here's how to stop letting your daily responsibilities get in the way and make time to realize your ambitions.
1. Take yourself seriously.
Leadership consultant Michael Hyatt offers a seven-point plan for tackling a project. His underlying advice: Allow yourself to prioritize the project alongside other essential tasks in your life.
"The question is this: Why is this important to you?" Hyatt notes on his website. "Write down your reasons as a series of bullets. Keep them handy--you're going to need them."
Hyatt continues, "Too often, we sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent. We can always do it later, right? Wrong. The key is to honor your commitment to your project as though it were an über-important meeting with an über-important person."
2. Force the issue.
Author and communications consultant Dorie Clark, who blogs for websites ranging from Huffington Post to HBR.org, stresses time management: Carve out specific time in your schedule for tackling side projects.
This is especially necessary, she tells Build, for larger undertakings like writing books. "If I take a 'stop and start' approach, it means I waste too much time just figuring out where I am in the process," she says, adding that working on her personal projects over the weekend is often necessary.
Clark says she also tries to build accountability mechanisms into her approach. For example, if she interviews someone for a blog post, that person generally expects to see the article get published, which compels Clark to finish it. Joining a writers group or announcing your plans on social networks can serve a similar purpose.
We also recommend Human Business Works CEO Chris Brogan's preparation template. Rather than a typical to-do list, which tends to fill up fast and never end, his "night before list" emphasizes priorities over tasks. Prior to going to bed each day (or whatever time period you choose), finish these statements--and then follow through:
Tomorrow, I'm going to ____________________.
To be ready, I need to ___________________.
I will remember my ______________.
The random thoughts that just filled my head are ______________.
Also remember to _______________.