“You will never find the time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Burton.
Life seems to be hurtling past at an ever increasing rate these days. When we ask each other ‘How are you?’, ‘Busy’ is a common response. Between work, family responsibilities, life, online distractions and more, people seem to be busier than ever.
Hey, I get it. I’m a naturally ‘busy’ person. A ‘do-er’. I find it difficult to sit still and I like to get things done. But as Henry David Thoreau famously pointed out: “It’s not enough to be busy… The question is: What are we busy about?”. We need to make a conscious effort to ensure we’re not being busy just for the sake of it.
Sometimes it feels like by the time we do all the things we feel we ‘have’ to do each day, there often isn’t enough time for things we ‘want’ to do. But we all have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. Maybe we could make a few tweaks to how we’re currently spending our time. If so, we might be able to make more time for creativity, family or anything else we want to.
Is there something in your life right now you wish you had more time for?
One on one time with your kids or spouse? Time to work on your own personal creative pursuits? Time to yourself to just ‘think’? Regular exercise? Contact with friends or family who live far away? Sleep?
When we feel like we don’t have enough time, it can be really useful to have a good honest look at how we’re currently spending our time.
For one week, I really encourage you to track your time. There are loads of free time tracking apps available online such as Toggl or, if you’re an old school paper and pen person like me, you can download and print our FREE Time Tracker Printable. Whichever method you choose, note ‘exactly’ how you’re spending your time for one week. Did you really spend 30 minutes ‘working’ on the computer? Or was it more like 10 minutes paying bills online, then 20 minutes aimlessly scrolling through Facebook? There’s no judgement here and there’s no right or wrong answers! No one else will see your tracker unless you choose to show them.
The idea is to see if there are some times in your day you might be able to use differently.
Maybe there are some time consuming activities you could swap out for something else.The process of tracking your time isn’t necessarily about trying to pack more into your day. It’s about being more intentional with how we choose to spend our precious time.
Author Laura Vanderkam suggests changing our language around the idea of not having enough time. “Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,”” and see how that makes you feel. I could happily change “I don’t have time to vacuum our house every single day” to “I don’t vacuum our house every single day because it’s not a priority” and I have no problem with that! But how about changing “I’d love to have regular family nights but we don’t have time” to “We don’t have regular family nights because our family isn’t a priority”. Ouch.
If you come up with your own statements that don’t sit well with you, that can be very telling. Maybe you’ve been making something a priority up until now that you could change for something else. Maybe it’s actually someone else’s priority rather than yours and could be removed from your schedule completely.
One of my own biggest time wasters in the past has been T.V. By the time the kids were finally in bed, Hubby and I often just felt like hanging out watching Netflix. But we also had a long list of projects we wanted to work on. We realised that even just one hour of T.V each weeknight is five hours every week! So now, Hubby and I make it a rule that we don’t watch T.V on weeknights.
In the few months we’ve been consciously doing this, we’ve each been able to progress other projects we previously thought we didn’t have time for. For one, I finally started this blog! We’re not perfect and it’s not about ensuring all of your ‘free’ time is spent ‘productively’. Sometimes the best use of your time might be to relax, call a friend or get an extra hour of sleep!
We all have busy seasons in our lives, especially when we’re in the thick of raising young families. And as parents, our time is so often dictated to by other (often very little) people. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to put things that make us happy on hold for too long. And as author Greg McKeown so rightly points out, “If you don’t prioritise your life, someone else will”!
If something you’d like to spend time on in the future isn’t a priority ‘right now’, that’s fine (maybe create a ‘someday’ list you can refer back to later. I will get back to salsa dance lessons one day! But it’s not a priority for me ‘right now’). Looking at how you currently spend your time might surprise you. You might find some things you want to do more of and some things you want to do less of. The key is to avoid the habit of being busy for the sake of it. Otherwise, before we know it, our kids will be grown and gone and we’ll be looking at each other, wondering where the years went.
Have some fun thinking about at least one area of your life or an activity you want to spend more time on. Track your time for a week, and make some changes to your schedule to make it happen!
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”, Annie Dillard
Question: What is one thing you want to make more time for right now?
Creative challenge: For one week, track how you currently spend your time. Be honest. Use the results to consciously make time for more of what you want in your life, now! Even if it’s a baby step towards a bigger goal. If you want to learn Spanish, maybe listen to a free podcast such as Coffee Break Spanish .You could listen while driving to work, folding clothes, or on the way home from school dropoff. If you want to spend more time together as a family, maybe remove yourself from a weekly after school activity. And instead, dedicate that time to a family games night or family sporting activity. If you’re spending a lot of time cleaning, maybe other family members could take on extra chores to reduce your workload.
Let me know in the comments below if you track your time for a week. Did it inspire you to make some positive changes to how you’re currently spending your time? I’d love to hear about it.
How to track your time
Start tracking your time today (no need to wait until Monday!).
If using the Time Tracker printable, write down how you spend each half hour. The more detail, the more useful it will be later. For example, instead of 30 minutes ‘computer’. It might be 10 mins paying bills online, 20 mins Facebook.
Once you’ve tracked your time for a full week (or two weeks if more useful), note the different key areas. For example, the amount of time spent preparing meals; commuting to work, school or extra curricular activities; time with your family; time for your own interests and hobbies; sleeping; social media; watching T.V.
Calculate how many hours you’re spending in each area per week.
Consider whether the amount of time currently spent reflects how much time you want to be spending in each area.
If it’s not, how much time would be preferable?
What can you change in the way you’re currently spending your time to get closer to that ideal?
- Do it!