Taking care of my own projects, may it be finances, hobbies or voluntary/community service, takes time, no question. Time that I don’t always have, however, because we all usually have a full-time job, have to take care of everyday problems, and some of you perhaps even have children, so that sometimes there is no time even for hobbies or other personal activities.
Sometimes, I feel myself overwhelmed by all the apparently important tasks to do in addition to my full-time job. I firstly didn’t believe that I will find any time for private activities.
Even in such situations, when I think I don’t have enough time for other things, there is usually much more time than I assumed in the beginning.
Because it wasn’t easy to arrive to this realization and I know some people who often are themselves in such a situation, I want to share my thoughts and my strategy with you. I hope it helps you as well.
Time is finite. Unfortunately – or fortunately -, there is nothing we can do about that.
However, it is more important to know that we are in charge to decide how we spend our freely available time.
I have understood that it is not about optimizing the things I do and getting 10 minutes here or 30 minutes there of “more time” out of it. It’s much more about how I use my free time in the first place, and whether that’s in alignment with what I want.
A TED Talk I highly recommend at this point is “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time” by Laura Vanderkam.
Laura tells us, among other things, the story of a successful and busy woman who had little spare time in her calendar. However, the malfunction of her water heater not only resulted in her basement being flooded and needing a quick fix, but also meant that she was suddenly able to free up 7 hours at short notice in her busy week. Why? Because the water heater became a priority.
Another example she tells is the story of an entrepreneur and mother who initially didn’t have time to interview Laura because she wanted to go hiking at the same time. This woman didn’t have time for the interview, not because she was chronically short on time, but because the interview simply wasn’t a priority for her, but hiking was.
Since that video, I’ve come to see the saying “I don’t have time for …” with different eyes. It should mean not so much that you don’t have time for X or Y because you simply don’t have time, but rather because X or Y is simply not a priority.
But not only Laura’s TED talk was an epiphany for me. In January 2020, I ready the book The power of now* by Eckhart Tolle. The basic message of this book is that everything we experience, think and do happens now. easy to apply and also a help in some situations. I still don’t feel the spiritual enlightenment the subtitle promises, but the book is nevertheless worth reading.
A week has 168 hours in total. Having a full-time job with at least 40-hours a week and 8 hours of sleep a day on average, that still leaves 72 hours for what’s important to you. Even with a 60-hour week, there would still be 52 hours available for you.
The basic principle is to always schedule priorities first, similar to the case of the broken water heater. So if your priority is to read a new book every month, then schedule time each week for your book within those 52-72 hours.
Everything else should happen around those priorities and perhaps fall to the backlog if there are other priorities. Acting this way I can make sure that I have always time for what is important to me.
Laura recommends to have three different life areas: career, relationships and yourself. That is, when I plan my priorities for the week, I try to set priorities for all three areas and to grant each area enough time.
I know from my own experience that this usually happens almost the other way around, but it can also be seen in the statistics. Distractions lurk everywhere, which supposedly only cost a few minutes here and a few minutes there.
Besides, you can’t be productive anyway if you have to leave in 30 minutes or less, or come home in the evening exhausted and then prefer to watch a movie, right?
German spend on average 17 minutes on Snapchat, 21 minutes on Instagram and a whole 42 minutes on Facebook, per day! And that’s just three of many social media platforms, not to mention YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos.
As I said, I have realized for myself that chronic lack of time is not caused by the fact that the day has only 24 hours, but rather by the fact that I – consciously or unconsciously – make Facebook, Netflix & Co. a priority and then at the same time I complain that I am making progress in more important activities like reading a new book, taking care of my finances, starting a new project, etc.
Now this doesn’t mean that I give up YouTube and the other apparently time wasting platforms. It means that when I have some idle time, as I do now, I consciously decide what to do. Now I am writing this article for example and next time it could be the next chapter of a book I want to read.
You don’t know what to do in your idle time? Then I have written this blog post just for you: 4 activities to do in your idle time.
As described at the beginning, I have a lot of stuff going on, at work but also privately, so I often work till late and sometimes I honestly go to sleep right away. In the worst case, my free time is then limited to the weekends, because after all, I don’t really want to give up my 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
I would by a lie to tell you that I now manage to do everything I want after all the knowledge and tips I told you. Nevertheless, I am in control of my time and I can always manage to get the things done that are most important to me.
This includes, for example, writing a new blog post, continuing my education, exercising or simply relaxing. It works if you give your needs the urgency of a broken water heater.
This is exactly where it is important to prioritize. When something is important and urgent, I make it to my priority number 1. Things that are not important enough, or pure distractions such as Facebook or the new Netflix series, I then simply have “no time”. They are not a high priority to me, as long as I haven’t done what is more important.
In the meantime, I’ve also adjusted my morning routine a bit. For example, I try to get up an hour earlier than usual (I still need 7-8 hours of sleep) and use the time mainly for myself. In the morning, my thoughts are still fresh, so I can be creating and write new blog posts or take care of other priorities.
The whole strategy comes down to one basic principle: I plan my priorities first and I don’t have time for what is not one.
What are your suggestions for accomplishing what you set out to do despite a lack of time?
What to do when I don’t have enough time. what to do when you don’t have enough time. how to get more hours of sleep. how get more free time from a full-time job. how to overcome lack of time. some advice on what to do in idle time: listening to podcasts; short time slots: ideas for idle time activities. On the travel photography blog of claudio salvati.
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