Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time. I’ve come to realize that most of us aren’t the best at managing it.
We say we don’t have enough time, yet we procrastinate. We feel over-committed, and so we don’t know how to achieve our goals. We feel overwhelmed and buckle under the pressure.
Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is that everyone has enough time.
Because we all have the same amount of time allotted to us. There are 24 hours in a day for all of us to get stuff done. No one receives more. Using the excuse that we don’t have any time is exactly that—an excuse.
Rather than living by this excuse, we should find solutions to organize life in a more meaningful and purposeful way.
It was in college that I learned the art of time management.
I went to a four-year university in pursuit of a degree in Human Biology. I also interned at a biotech laboratory, and had a job (or two) throughout. On top of all this, I commuted an hour each way every single day to get to school; although, sometimes the commutes were much longer. It was a lot to take on, yet I still managed to graduate and receive my Bachelors of Science.
How did I do it?
The trick I use to manage my time is quite simple: I use every single moment of my time to my advantage. Whether it’s watching a movie or going to work, I find purpose in what I am doing. I do not allow any moment to be wasted.
For example, during college my commute ate up a significant portion of my time each and every week. I was spending upwards of 10 hours per week listening to music. Sure, I love listening to music, but it wasn’t benefiting me in any way. I knew this had to change, and that I had to start using that chunk of time in a more efficient way.
So, that’s what I did.
I began listening to podcasts* of my classes, relearning concepts that had been covered that day in school. It helped me a lot; I spent less time having to study for tests, and created an effective way to use two hours of my time that I had previously spent simply moving from one place to the other.
I didn’t listen to podcasts all the time, though. Life needs balance, and I knew if I spent all my time studying I would easily burn out.
Before college I had always been an avid reader; I loved being transported into other worlds and taught lessons through other people’s words. I had stopped reading for pleasure once I became overrun with my school work.
The day I started reading during my commutes changed everything.
There were two ways I did this:
If I rode the bus to school, I read books on a Kindle.
If I drove myself to school, I listened to audiobooks.
I found a balance. I did everything I could with that two hour block of time available to me. If I felt confident about everything I had learned that day in school, I would read a book for pleasure or listen to music if that’s what I was feeling. If midterms or finals were approaching and I needed to buckle down and study, I spent my time re-listening to podcasts.
The trick to successful time management is taking a look at how we’re allocating our time, seeing how we are currently using our time, and repurposing it in a way that helps us achieve our goals.
Now that I’m not in college, I still apply this principle every day.
For example, I love to cook. I find so much pleasure in cooking, and relish the time I get to spend making a good meal from scratch in the comfort of my own home. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the meal.
But these days, when I cook I usually listen to a podcast that resonates with me. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook. Other times I catch up on YouTube videos as I put together a meal. Unless I am making a particularly intricate meal, I hardly ever spend my time in the kitchen solely cooking.
This saves me time in the long run. I can do two things that I enjoy at the same time. By doing this, I create more time in my schedule, creating a more productive lifestyle for myself.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the key to time management is leveraging it in a beneficial way. More time cannot be gained; that’s impossible, but it can be repurposed and reallocated in a more efficient way.
It’s a switch in perspective we all need in order to create meaningful and impactful lives.
*My school recorded most of our classes into podcasts that were available on the school website to listen at our own leisure. If your school doesn’t do that, take it upon yourself to record your lectures yourself. It can be extremely useful to have a record of what your professor says during class to re-listen to at your own leisure. From experience, I would highly recommend it.
Author: Alex McGinness
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Day of Glory/Deviant Art