How I Find Time for Everything With a Full Time Job

I'm going to be sharing how I approach scheduling my life around a full time job. To make time for things that are important to me. We're going to look at a mix of eight practical examples and mindset shifts that have worked for me and that I still use every single day.

When I was building a seven figure business while also training as a surgeon, my calendar looked pretty chaotic. But despite night shifts and feeling tired, I still found time to grow that side hustle and level up my own knowledge.

Whether you're a student or a working professional we're going to look at how to fit things in outside of your chaotic schedule, if you might struggle finding the time and energy to do stuff outside of that nine to five. It might be starting a business or a side hustle like I did, or it might be finding time to take up a hobby or learn something new consistently.

Stop Wasting Your Time

We have a limited amount of time. We can never make more time. It's a finite resource, but we can choose how we spend that time.

I always think that there are really two ways that we can spend our time.

One is to do maintenance tasks, so that might be things like actually turning up for your boring day job where you don't really learn anything, but you need to go in to make money. Or maybe you have to go and do some admin tasks like your laundry or tidying up. These are things that kind of have to be done for us to live, but they don't really advance us or get us to the next stage in our career, our life, or the skill that we're learning.

And then there are the other things which really excite us, which do help us to grow. And they're the things that challenge us.

For example, when I was training as a surgeon, there were elements of my nine to five job where I was learning something new like doing a new operation and it was exciting and I was learning and I was growing. And then a lot of the rest of the time I might've been sat around in a coffee room waiting for a patient to arrive to the operating theater or doing administrative tasks, which wasn't really helping me level up my own life.

And if we extend that to outside of work there were lots of times when I would just kind of hang out and chill and not do things that were really driving me forwards, like learning business or actually doing things where I was learning from experience.

And this is where the choice really comes in. I'll always hold leverage over myself to think, okay, what are the things that I'm making a conscious choice to spend my time on? And are they moving me to the next stage in my life?

I might be super exhausted leaving my night shift and driving back home, but I was actually energized because the work that I was doing for my business was really rewarding. It was really interesting. And I actually felt energized enough to code a website or do some marketing.

And that's what kept me going. And it's a little bit about finding your why and your purpose and the things that you enjoy. If you can lock onto that, early, then you'll always have energy and you'll always make time and prioritize to do those tasks because you enjoy them.

The Waterfall Method

Once I understand what I want to focus my time on and what I call them, I non negotiables. So that's things like working on my business, going to the gym and doing those things that I enjoy. I will actively time block slots into my diary for the month, the week and the day. It'll kind of waterfall down.

So for example, I will automatically block out the first couple of hours of my day in the morning before I go into work. This is what I used to do, and it might have meant getting up a little bit earlier, but for me, in order to get an extra hour in to go to the gym before work, I would time block that, and I would build a habit so that I knew I getting up at the same time every single day to go and do the hour of prioritized gym work before I went in and did my day job knowing that it got it done and got it out the way and the same went for my business I would time block areas outside of my nine to five which were completely siloed.

I do this at the week level, at the month level, and at the day level. And this meant that not only did I know when I was going to be doing things and when things were prioritised, but other people knew that as well.

If people wanted to go out and socialise, they knew that I wasn't available before work and I'd try and get things immediately done after work so that I could then chill out in the evening and have some intentional downtime where I could actually relax and regenerate.

Energy Management Method

When you know you're going to be time blocking out deep work sessions, you also want to be conscious of when you have the most energy.

For me, I'm often energised first thing in the morning and so what I tend to do is schedule any difficult tasks that I might put off in that first deep work time block so that I know I can get it done with all my energy.

When my willpower is then fading later on through the day, maybe after lunch when I'm a little bit postprandial, I'll do things like meetings or tasks that don't take up quite as much cognitive energy.

And the same goes for things like the gym. If you're actively training for something, you want to be training when you're at your peak, not when you're at your most tired, because then you either won't get as much out of the training session, or you might not even do it because you feel tired and you end up watching Netflix.

So I always try and manage my energy levels and think, when am I most energized and when can I do the most difficult tasks? And there's also an element of this around managing my energy throughout the day. I used to be really bad at skipping meals and that led to my energy levels quickly fading and waning off and I'd be more likely to procrastinate.

So now if I'm working from my desk, I'll make sure I've got water, I'll make sure I've got some snacks that keep me energized and keep my cognitive powers at their peak so that I get the most out of my work sessions.

Reverse Scheduling

One of the key things that I learned quite early on was that while 99 percent of people will schedule their diary around their work commitments and think about the things they have to do, what you want to do is actually reverse that and plan your calendar and your diary around your life.

So once you've figured out what it is you love, whether it's going to the gym, whether it's learning an instrument, whether it's getting that side hustle business scaled up, you want to make sure that you're prioritizing those things above everything else. I term those non negotiables. And when I'm actually planning out my timetable in my Google calendar, I'll put those things in first.

Now, if you've got some flexibility here, like I did with things like shift work, or if you're a student, you can more easily fit them around when your energy levels are at the highest and when they're at their lowest. If you do have a very strict routine, like a nine to five job, or you're doing lectures from eight in the morning to six at night, then you're going to have to be a little bit creative here and maybe time block and schedule some of those non negotiables either in the evening or early in the morning or at weekends in order to get them done.

And remember when you're planning out new non negotiables, you need to have a good balance. You don't want to try and do too many things at once or cram your diary so that it's impossible for you to actually form a habit and get all of those tasks done and then feeling a bit deflated, you might not do them again.

Instead, just start off in slow bite sized chunks, getting little bits of work on your business or little bits of instrument practice session or language learning sessions. in throughout the day in maybe 20 or 30 minute intervals, rather than trying to get everything done in a single session and then burning yourself out.

How To Batch Tasks

So let's think about my daily routine at the moment. On some days, I might do things like working on one of my businesses. Another day, I might do marketing. Another day, I might do sales.

But what I'll tend to do is I'll batch up similar tasks into deep work sessions so that I'm in that right mindset. I'm avoiding things like application switching or having to think too much about what I'm doing.

So for example, if I'm recording a YouTube video, I might record three or four in a batch because I can get the camera set up. I know what I'm doing and I'm kind of in that zone of speaking to camera. In contrast, if I'm doing lots of meetings or if I'm doing lots of deep work working on business finances or business pitches, then I'm going to bulk those together because it's a very different cognitive skillset and I can then get into that flow state more easily and work on those topics really effectively.

I find that by doing this and combining those batching of similar tasks with deep work sessions, I can get tons and tons done.

In fact, just the other day, I was speaking to our marketing team about some of the blogs we're going to be writing over the next quarter. And instead of scheduling one a week, what I opted to do was to try and get 10 or 20 done in half a day or a day, because then I'm down in writing mode. I'm feeling a bit creative. I'm able to research the topics I'm writing about and I can get more done in a shorter space of time without distraction creeping in.

Go With The Flow

A flow state is basically when we're in a state of work or doing something where it feels natural, we don't feel distracted and we could do that for a long period of time.

Now actually getting into a flow state. can be quite tricky. We often put things off or procrastinate and I've been really bad at this where in the past I've got distracted after a few minutes or I've checked my phone and one of the best things that's helped me with this is to put on some lofi music or if I'm in a busy office space, putting on my noise cancelling headphones and tuning in to one of my Spotify playlists.

And for me, my personal playlist preference are things like lo fi music or classical music or a really great hack here is movie soundtracks like all the Hans Zimmer soundtracks. from the Christopher Nolan films which kind of hit around that 60 bpm mark where it kind of relaxes my brain and gets me into that work mode and stops any distractions from creeping in.

Prepare Your Mind

Regardless of how well intentioned our time blocking is, or how we know we want to get into a flow state, distractions can creep in. And for me, I find this happens most when I lack energy, and my willpower seeps down, and then I'm more likely to become distracted by things like watching Netflix or playing with my phone or not really wanting to get work done. And there are a couple of things that I do that really focus my mind and keep me refreshed. So in terms of extended energy management for my mind, I always make sure I get seven hours of sleep because for me, that keeps me energized, having a healthy wind down routine and making sure my quality of sleep is at its maximum.

I'll also then make sure that 45 to an hour of exercise every single day to keep me healthy. If I don't exercise, I start feeling a little bit sluggish and you don't have to go crazy on this. Although I love doing things like HIIT classes and lifting weights in the gym, even just taking my dog Basil out for a walk helps me feel refreshed and keeps my mind clear.

And the final couple of things I do here are in the evening, I'll make sure I spend at least 20 minutes trying to read around 50 pages. so that it primes my brain for getting into that work mode the following day and my books. I split my time between things like autobiographies and also practical business books.

And then finally, I'll also try and prioritize five minutes of meditation every single day to focus my racing mind, particularly if I've just come off a difficult meeting or I've been in a heavy work period.

80/20 Scheduling

Even if we've got our maximum energy, if we're not focused on what we're working on, we can fill our limited time with tasks that aren't actually moving us towards where we want to be.

In my business, I could work on any number of things at any one time, but that doesn't mean they're the correct thing that I need to be working on. That's going to drive revenue and grow my business most effectively. So when I'm actually planning out my month, my week. And my day, I'll actually spend time on strategy and thinking about what the few things are that 20 percent that are gonna really affect and move the needle over everything else I could be doing.

So I'll end up with a single daily goal that I want to achieve every single day that moves me towards my overall weekly goal. And my weekly goals then add up to focus around a monthly goal. And each of my daily goals, I might break down into three subtasks. So for example, if my monthly goal is to increase my marketing outreach.

I might then break that down into writing a certain number of blog articles on some specific topics over the next few weeks. And I'll batch those up into a specific number of days during those weeks. And then on a particular day, I might try and knock out four or five blog articles, making sure that they're well written and the quality of them is high.

And that then means that I'm breaking things down into smaller tasks within my time blocks around my batched work. But I know that we're moving towards that bigger goal. Try and make sure your goals are smart goals, where they're specific and measurable, and you can do them in a specific time frame.

Remember, just as Parkinson's law says, whatever deadline we set, our work will fill the time to that deadline. So I'll always try and work on very specific goals that move me towards my overall goal and are relevant rather than the 80 percent of work that is busy work but isn't necessarily that helpful.

BONUS - Boring Is Good

I'll get up at the same time every single day, which is around about 6:30, and I'll head straight to my desk, picking up a glass of water to get hydrated on the way. I'll have everything set out on my desk from the night before and I know what I need to do. I'll also use something called the Zygonic Principle, which basically means that I'll try and start a task the night before and deliberately leave it unfinished.

This means Then my brain is then more likely to want to finish that task, and I'll be able to get that done very effectively in the morning because I want to complete it. Now, by doing this consistently, every single day, I'm going to the gym at a similar time every single day. I'm more likely to stop overthinking things or make up excuses about why I don't wanna do it.

And it's an easy thing to then go and do. There's limited blockers. I know everything's set out. I know where I'm going. I know what time I need to be there. And I'm holding leverage over myself so that I can get things done. I used this when I was coming home after a busy night shift as a surgeon. I've used it in businesses over the last four or five years.

And it's without question, the most impactful thing that I have done in order to consistently work around a busy schedule. Now, if you want to see more guides around how I set my life around a very busy schedule, check out this video, which I'll pop up over here where I go into detail about how I actually schedule my calendar and some top productivity hips to take you to the next level.