Happiness

This is why we don’t have enough time

Do you know the feeling?

There’s never enough time to get “stuff” done and do all the things that we really want to do. We come up with resolutions for 2017, but then, when are we going to follow up on them? Who has the time?

What if we want to work full time, have kids, hobbies, and time for friends? We all know that’s impossible, right?

But why do we “know” it’s impossible? Where does this knowledge come from?

I’ve come to believe that these are simply stories that we tell ourselves. Stories that come into our lives from a number of sources, be it the media, friends, or family. These are stories that have been repeated so often that they become the “truth” (“everyone knows that”; “that’s just the way it is”), even though we have hardly any evidence to back them up.

It’s hard to overestimate the power of those stories.

If we give negative energy, we get negative energy back. If we’re caught in negative beliefs of “impossibility”, the universe will oblige and happily feed our stream of negative thoughts.

I’m always intrigued by those people who have managed to break free from self-limiting thoughts. Laura Vanderkam portrays a few of them in her book “I know how she does it”.

Coffee, books, reading, relaxation

Time management means making time for this, too.

The author asked women with children and a salary of $100k+ pear year (yes, that’s right) to complete time logs, tracking their activities in 30min slots, for an entire week.

Instead of blindly believing that “it can’t be done”, Vanderkam found people who “do it” – who have partners, kids, friends, hobbies, and demanding jobs. Yes, granted, they were all organised. They all got up early. But they all got in enough family time, me time, and sleep time – on top of their jobs.

Studying these time logs, I realised that while these people’s days varied widely, they all had one thing in common: They didn’t buy into the “it can’t be done” mantra. I was intrigued.

What if I kept a time log, just for one week?

I did, and the result was an eye-opener. I got SO much more done that week. I worked full time, had plenty of sleep, plenty of play time with our little one, went out with friends, read a book, did 6 hours of sport and one day had an early breakfast with a friend.

Why did I get so much more done?

Because I paid attention. Because I tracked things. Because I had to enter something in the time log – and it couldn’t be “not sure where the time went”.

The author has extensively written about time management and is sometimes labelled as someone who pushes people into being 100% productive, all the time.

She addresses this issue in her book, and I think her explanation makes sense (I’m paraphrasing): If you decide to read for one (or three) hours, that’s great. What matters is that it’s your conscious choice. It’s important to keep a balance, and incorporate some me time. But what’s mostly happening is that hours on end disappear into the black hole of the internet, or they pass and we’re not actually sure what happened.

I’ve completed the time log last year (not thinking of resolutions for 2017) but it was such a revelation that I’ll keep doing it from time to time. It made me realise that I do have the time, and that I don’t need to respond “fine, but busy” when people ask how I feel.

On a personal level, the first thing that I’ll need to stop doing is reaching for the computer just because I want to sit on the sofa and relax (with nothing specific in mind that I need to do or check online, of course!).

It’s troubling to realise that over time I’ve created time-fillers for those moments when there’s nothing obvious to do – filling the time that I claim not to have! 

The stories that we’re continuously told don’t need to be true if the use of our time is a conscious choice. If we don’t make a conscious choice, time passes anyway, but unnoticed and unappreciated. 

Certainly for me, there’s a lot of work ahead.

Happy 2017!

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11 replies »

  1. It’s so true about what you said at the end of the post- “It’s troubling to realise that over time I’ve created time-fillers for those moments when there’s nothing obvious to do – filling the time that I claim not to have!”

    So often I find myself “doing nothing” while thinking about how little time I have to get everything done. I think I might try a time log and see if like you said, more effective then blindly going about my day.

    Loved the post and so glad to find this blog! 🙂

    Like

  2. Excellent thought to begin the new year — happy new year btw! I’ve come to realize that living a deliberate and conscious life is going to put me on the fast track to living a simple and full-filling life. That is my resolution for the new year 🙂 Glad to see your blog post pop-up as a reminder!

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    • Happy new year to you too! I’ve been trying to be very conscious of how I allocate my time, and I keep on being amazed by how much time I actually have (something I never suspected!). Hope you had a great start in 2017!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this post Andrea. Although I’m resisting making new year’s resolutions this got me thinking. I recently started a habits tracker recording some aspects of life and that was revealing about where time goes and helping me commit to making time for the activities I want to spend time on. But I too still spend too much time doing nothing much on my laptop! I’d love to channel that into something more nourishing, interesting, productive or whatever…
    thank you so much for the inspiring thoughts. x

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    • Thank you for your kind words. I often feel the same: I’d like to channel my energy and time, doing something productive, but my problem is that first of all I need to figure out what this “something productive” should be. It’s great to have spare time, but what for? This “spare time thing” hit me so unexpectedly that now I’m a little overwhelmed 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting! It is true that by writing down things, it makes them more *real* and makes you realize where your time goes.
    Talking about time spent on computers, I once used an app that would track everything I would do on my computer and looking at the logs, would tell me how much had been wasted on non important stuff, etc. Very interesting and eye opening.

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