Despite how busy we feel, we do have plenty of time.
It’s easy to get caught up in our hectic lives and not make time for ourselves. When we are busy, we don’t make time for our friends, our hobbies, our bodies, proper nourishment or time off for doing “nothing.” We have a thousand excuses, some valid, some not so valid but it usually comes back to either “I don’t have time” or “I’m too tired”—the latter being a result of either too little sleep, poor time management and rushing or both.
The reality is that most of us actually do have time, we are just misusing it.
If we don’t make time for what’s important, who will? We need to make ourselves, our friends and families, our needs and joys a priority. Life is about more than work and traffic and running from place to place at a break-neck pace.
We live in a society that is driven by deadlines and schedules. It’s unacceptable to be late for work or school or appointments or the train. Often we are busy thinking about our to do list or the things that didn’t get done yesterday. We constantly look to our watches or cell phones, not stopping to breathe or smell the roses.
Being late and rushing creates stress, which is a leading cause of death. There are 67 million Americans with high blood pressure—that’s a sobering 31 percent of us. Stress management is vital. The term “stress” derives from the Latin stringere (to draw tight). It’s no joke, we really do need to loosen up and slow down—and with a little planning its easier that you think.
There are 168 hours in a week, lets break them down.
1. A 40 hour work week and eight hours of sleep every night comes to a total of 96 hours.
2. A half hour travel time to and from work daily is five hours.
3. Personal care such as showering, an hour a day, is seven hours.
4. Eating, food preparation or waiting in line: approximately 14 weekly hours.
Certainly this varies and life happens but the average person’s grand total is 122 hours.
168-122=46 hours per week.
That is over six and a half hours a day. Surplus.
Yes, our schedules can vary from day to day and dishes break, traffic gets backed up, the dog needs to be washed, the baby throws up, we get pulled over, we lose a contact or any of a thousand other things that can throw a monkey wrench in this formula but… On average, you might have more time than you think.
There was a time I felt rushed more often than not and I rarely had time for myself—for over 20 years, in fact.
I skipped meals and workouts and only occasionally called a friend just to talk. During the day I walked fast, talked fast, worked fast and at night I collapsed in a spent heap sipping gin to counteract the quadruple espresso I drank at 4:00 to power through the end of the day. I’ve been there but now, despite the fact that I am just as busy as ever I have time to write, to work out, do yoga, hike, to socialize and to sit and do nothing. Yes…Glorious Nothing.
It’s possible that with some simple changes, consistency, commitment, creativity, a little juggling and planning you can have more time than you know what to do with and never, or almost never, run into class or work late again.
These 10 steps might just change your life. They did mine.
1. Budget. Make a list similar to the one above specific to your life and how you need to spend your time. List the necessities to be productive, healthy and responsible.
2. Write it all down. Carry a notebook around and literally write down everything you do during your day. Everything including how long you watch TV, decide what to wear, have sex, or look for your lost keys. Be honest with yourself about what you are doing with your time.
3. Eliminate whatever you don’t need and delegate what you can. This one can be difficult, but once you get used to your new schedule you can add things back in.
4. Schedule everything. If you don’t have one already, get a calendar. I use a calendar that breaks each hour into 15 minute segments. I use different colored highlighters to block things off. Green is work. Orange is the gym. Yellow is writing time and blue is leisure time-time with the kids, a hike, watching The Walking Dead and so on. If something comes up I can easily see the blank spots in which to put it and I can easily see my whole week and juggle a bit if necessary.
Schedule everything. Schedule the things you have decided are necessary and start with two or three additional important extra things and mark that time off. If you want to go for a run on Thursday, pick a time, highlight it in your calendar and don’t change it. If you want to take that yoga class on Monday and Wednesday morning, highlight it. If you want to study, write, practice piano…write it down. The key is to not change it. Schedule your personal time just like you do your job or classes.
5. Turn off the TV. Really. Off.
6. Limit social media. Until you feel less rushed and learn to use your time well, schedule your social media time. Put a time limit on how long you can Facebook stalk your ex or snap chat your BFF and stick to it. Set a timer with an alarm if need be.
7. Organize your living and working spaces. Put your keys, your phone, your toothbrush, anything and everything in its own place so you never have to waste time looking for lost items.
8. Don’t procrastinate. Start first thing in the morning. Get up early and stop hitting the snooze button, it will set the tone for the day. Cultivate the habit of just doing it. Whatever it is.
9. Stay focused. There is nothing wrong with day dreaming but if we get to caught up in thought we lose our focus. If we lose focus we slow down, make mistakes or stop what we are doing all together. Try to develop a habit of staying on task. Remember, whatever it is you’re doing, by now you have scheduled it and have only an allotted amount of time for it.
10. Breathe. Seems simple but pausing to take a few long, deep breaths will help calm and ground you while nourishing your mind and body.
It may seem daunting or even impossible for your life. And yes some days it will be, but with nearly one in three of us walking around with stress related high blood pressure, it’s worth the time and effort you put into creating a less rushed and stressful life.
Be loving and gentle with yourself, and be patient. Allow for modification. Revise it as needed but stick with it. Change can take time but hey, with proper planning you’ve got more of it that you might think.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kimby Maxson
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Lillaise Burke/Flickr