How often do you hear yourself say ‘I wish I could but I just don’t have the time’….? Or ‘I would do that…but I would need an extra five hours in my day’…?
We say it to our ourselves and we say it to others as a way to fool our minds into thinking that we are endlessly busy from the moment we get up to the moment we lay our head down at night and go to sleep, and that there is hardly room for anything elsein your day. True there are some people in the world where this saying is rather accurate as they are juggling a million and one things, but for quite alot of us that statement is complete bull. We have the time, we just don’t want to find it. Or, more specifically, we don’t want to find it enough.
One common way we will normally translate this into another ‘fooling ourselves’ sentence is by saying; ‘Well I work Monday to Friday, so I just don’t have time in my week days’.
Oh really? You are telling me you are at your desk from 5am until 11pm at night? (Again, a few yes, majority no). You have time, you just haven’t taken the time to sit down and find those pockets of minutes or hours that you could make use of for yourself and make these specific moments your priority.
Here is an example of how you might see your average working day:
- Wake up and eat breakfast
- Commute to work
- At work
- At work
- Commute home from work
- Eat dinner
- Watch some TV/go out/go to the gym
I’m not going to lie, I was one of these people. I had all of these dreams and ambitions outside of my 9-5, but told myself I just didn’t have any time to pursue it. I told myself that my 9-5 took all of my time and energy in my week days. What am I doing to myself?! I’m effectively writing off five days of every bloody week here!! That’s about 71% of my week that I claim to have no extra ounce of anything to give in my day to pursue any other big or small goals outside of work. Earlier in the year I told myself I wanted to start reading books again, I needed to build up my knowledge base if I was going to go into self-employment, but where was I going to find those hours needed to read and finish even just one book?
I just didn’t have the time, apparently.
Then I watched these two speakers on TedTalks on Youtube;
Mel Robbins explaining ‘How to stop screwing yourself over’
Laura Vanderkam advising on ‘How to gain control of your free time’
I will do spearate posts about both of these videos in the near future, but for now stop reading this, scroll to the bottom of the page and watch both of those clips (as long as you remember to then scroll back up once you’re done!). These women well and truly lit a fire under my arse, as one tells you to be more conscious and aware of your daily decisions and the other highlights how we find time for anything that we deem as important and a priority.
I was inspired, I mean truly inspired!
The next morning I set my alarm clock half an hour earlier than I usually wake up (as suggested by Mel) and I then took the time to think of what else I wanted to achieve and how I can make that a priority (as suggested by Laura) – and thats when I really took stock of how much time I have in my day and how I had fallen into the trap of eat, sleep, work 9 – 5 , repeat, eat sleep, work 9 -5, repeat….repeat repeat repeeeeeeat. Urgh!
Simply by thinking about how to break down every chunk of time in points 1 – 9 in the list above and dissect it further, it shows that yes, I have time, I just wasn’t making the most of it. Before February this was my typical day:
- Wake up (half an hour later than planned)
- Eat breakfast (scroll through facebook)
- Walk five minutes from home to bus stop (listening to KissFM radio and singing in my head)
- Take bus for 5 – 10 minutes (listening to KissFM radio)
- Take 20 minute ride on underground (listening to Spotify playlists of RnB/hip hop/ballads/rock etc)
- Walk 10 minutes to work (listening to Spotify playlists of RnB/hip hop/ballads/rock)
- At work
- Lunch (scrolling through Facebook and Instagram)
- At work
- Walk 10 minutes to underground (listening to KissFM radio / scrolling through Instagram and Facebook)
- Take 20 minute ride on underground (Listening to spotify playlists)
- Take bus 5 – 10 minutes (Listening to spotify playlists/ facebook and Instagram scrollingg)
- Walk five minutes from bus stop to home (Listening to spotify playlists)
- Eat dinner (watching TV)
- Watch some TV / gym / go out with friends / faff around on facebook or Instagram
- Sleep (watching TV)
Notice how many extra bullet points there are in my day all of a sudden? I went from 9 core actions to 16 in total. I had found pockets of time and now I needed to make sure I was using them effectively.
So from February onwards I started doing this instead:
- Wake up (alarm set half an hour earlier than normal – wrote a little bit of my book)
- Eat breakfast
- Walk five minutes from home to bus stop (listening to a TED talk)
- Take bus for 5 – 10 minutes (Listening to a TED talk)
- Take 20 minute ride on underground (Reading a book)
- Walk 10 minutes to work (Thinking about the book/TED talk and what I had learnt)
- At work 9am – 1pm
- Lunch (Doing a bit of research / sometimes scrolling on Instagram (hey, I’m not perfect haha)
- At work 1:30pm – 5pm
- Walk 10 minutes to underground (listening to a TED talk)
- Take 20 minute ride on underground (reading a book)
- Take bus 5 – 10 minutes (listening to relaxing music and thinking about what I had learnt/plans for future/what steps I was going to take next)
- Walk five minutes from bus stop to home (listening to relaxing music and thinking about what I had learnt/plans for future/what steps I was going to take next)
- Eat dinner (perhaps watch small bit of TV at same time to wind down)
- Work on my business plan based on my weekly self-written timetable. Other evenings visiting gym and certain nights seeing friends.
- Sleep (reading before I sleep, TV switched off)
- I started to be able to read and finish a new book every 1-2 weeks
- I felt inspired daily through listening to motivating TED talks, which spurred on my drive and seemed to give me renewed energy in the evenings
- I started to properly research my business plan and write its structure
- I started to teach myself French again through reading a french literature book before I went to sleep to wind down.
I had found time! In truth it had been there all along, I had just prioritised doing something productive in these smaller chunks of minutes and made effective use of my evenings rather than allowing my lazier side and the distractions (facebook/Instagram/chatting with friends every evening/socialising etc) from taking over these periods. The above things I have listed that I enjoy might not float your boat, but replace them with your own interests and suddenly your day seems a lot more exciting no? Perhaps if you drive to work instead of having free hands to be able to read on the train you might need to get audio books to listen to instead, but the message here is be creative in how you use your time. The whole experience is invigorating because ultimately you are reclaiming a big part of that 71% of your week back!
When you start to do this one thing you will notice quickly is that when you re-prioritised your routine that you have to be structured with it. How many of us get to Monday and we turn around looking behind us for where Tuesday to Sunday has disappeared! You let the week and these pockets of time pass you by if you don’t have a plan and a structure that you keep yourself on track with each day.
In every week, if we subtract the average of 8 hours sleep a night and 40 hours spent in the office, that still leaves you with 72 hours to do everything else – eating, showering, the mundane and day to day tasks and running around for other people – but also these other hours and minutes in there to invest in yourself and the other goals and dreams you have that you want to achieve – so go get it!
And today, right here right now, is all any of us has got as yesterday has been and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. So here in the present in this one day in which, like everyone else, you have these 24 hours / 1440 minutes / 86,400 seconds it’s up to you how you decide to spend yours.
Use it wisely!
Mel Robbins explaining ‘How to stop screwing yourself over’:
Laura Vanderkam advising on ‘How to gain control of your free time’: