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Toward Self-Sufficiency: Time Management

February 6, 2011

A full twelve weeks after my original post summarizing how I am working towards a goal of a financially self-sufficient hobby, we have now come to the eighth and final article of the individual posts I have dedicated to outlining my process.

This week’s Toward Self-Sufficiency article deals with something that many of us seem to be running short of on a regular basis: time.  Today I will be taking a look at how I have prioritized the use of my time so that a total of only ten to twenty hours a week allows me to accomplish all that I need to do to keep my hobby organized and on track while avoiding any impact on other aspects of my personal life, as well as my professional responsibilities.

You can check out the previous seven instalments in the series by visiting the following links:

Establishing a Focus for my Collection
Selling on eBay to Achieve my Goal
Utilizing an eBay Store

Customer Service
Cheap and Easy Marketing
Goal-Setting
Purchasing Strategically

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Since making my career change back in May I have had much more free time available on a day-to-day basis.  With that being the case, I made a point of taking a look at how I could maximize the use of my time to improve the way I do things with my hobby as my previous career did not allow me to dedicate the time needed to ensure its utmost success. 

I don’t want to say that this situation caused me to neglect my hobby over the four years that I worked in Toronto since I did manage to squeeze in enough time to get many of the things outlined in the first seven Toward Self-Sufficiency articles off the ground at the very least.  What I can say is that my hobby, both the collecting and the small “business” that I run in an effort to fund that collecting, would be much farther ahead if I had then the time that I find myself with now.

As I looked at what my newfound time could mean for my hobby, I kept in mind that the overall goal was to not affect the things that are higher on the priority scale than my hobby ought to be, including: my relationship with my wife; special gatherings or events with family and friends, and home and property maintenance duties. 

After conducting this review, I broke time slots down into four major areas.  For the most part those areas involve some sort of extra time spent on my hobby, amounting to a total commitment of somewhere in the range of ten to twenty hours a week to my hobby. 

Best of all, I am able to allot that much time each week to something that I enjoy immensely while avoiding any sort of negative effect on the aspects of my life that I mentioned take precedence over my hobby. 

Here’s the major areas and how they affect what I am doing to improve my hobby experience:

Weekday Mornings

Because of my previous job I was forced to become an early riser, and to this day my body still wakes itself up between 5:00 and 5:30 in the morning, alarm clock or not. 

Since I don’t have to leave the house until 8:00am at the earliest, and my wife is only awake and around the house for an hour or so before she’s off to work herself, I’m left with ample time to prepare myself for the day and get some work done on my hobby as well.  

A typical morning now involves about an hour of time solely dedicated to my hobby.  Generally I use the time to organize my collection, list items in my eBay store, package up items that have sold in the previous 24 hours to be shipped out, catch up on other collectors’ blogs, and scour eBay for deals on cards for my collection and some that I can flip through my store.

Weekday Lunch Hours

At my old job, unless I had a lunch meeting or was treating myself to a meal out with coworkers, I typically ate at my desk and chipped away at whatever task I had been assigned at the time since that was what everyone else did too.  I never had a problem with that while I was working there, since I enjoyed my work so much that it never really seemed to be a hassle.  

At my “new” job, the culture of the organization pretty much dictates that I am expected to take an hour to break for lunch, unless there is a project I’m working on that involves an extremely tight timeline.  While those projects occur on a fairly regular basis, it is not a daily occurrence. 

Generally speaking, I dedicate a couple of those lunch breaks each week to writing articles for this blog, plan for upcoming sales and specials, and doing the bookkeeping required to keep myself on track when it comes to the pursuit of my goal.

Weekday Evenings

I used to get home at around seven o’clock on weeknights because of my commute.  Now, a bad travel day results in me getting home no later than five.  Since my wife gets home shortly after that, we are now afforded much more time together, which has been a major plus for our relationship.  Rarely is this time used for anything other than what we are doing together and our relationship is solid as a result.

Weekends

This is perhaps the area that I have seen the most time added to my schedule.  Working on weekends is no longer part of my life and as a result I am rarely, if ever, forced to miss out on events with family or friends.  When those things are not going on, I have entire days that I can dedicate to a variety of things around the house, including my hobby.

I am still an early riser on weekends, while my wife is not, so I would estimate that on average I am able to put a good three hours every Saturday and Sunday into working on any number of things related to my hobby before she is even thinking about getting out of bed.  Once she is up and about I am able to turn my focus to everything else that we need to cram in to the weekend, but by that time I feel like I am ahead of the game because of the amount of things I have been able to accomplish in organizing my collection and working on the “business” side of things.

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All told, the results of the extra time I can dedicate to my hobby have been nothing short of amazing for me.  Since making the big change in my career, I have had enough extra time to better organize and display my collection, make more informed and strategic purchases for the improvement of my collection and my “business”, list more items in my eBay store, improve the level of customer service that I can offer, successfully launch a website dedicated to the “business” side of my hobby, and start this blog.

All of this on top of getting married and buying a house.  Not a bad list of achievements for a nine month window!

The most important thing that I have found is that it is important to remain focussed and on task.  Are there lapses in my effectiveness?  Absolutely.  It’s very easy to get off task or lose motivation with anything you do on a daily basis.  Ultimately, though, I find a way to get myself on track by reminding myself of what things used to be like and what using my time effectively will mean both in my personal life and for my hobby.

While there is still much to get caught up on, I can see where my hard work and attention to managing my time can take me, and that’s an incredible motivator.

Until Wednesday’s newest Retro Review article, all the best in your collecting pursuits!

Ryan

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