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”.
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.