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’re endlessly busy from the moment we get up to the moment we lay our head down at night and go to sleep. That there’s hardly room for anything else in the day. True, there are some people in the world where this saying is rather accurate, as they’re juggling a million and one things, but for quite a lot of us that statement is simply false. 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’ll normally translate this ‘fooling ourselves’ sentence is by saying; ‘Well I work Monday to Friday, so I just don’t have time in my week days’.
In response I ask: 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’s 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 when I worked at my old job. 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 talking about how to gain control of your free time:
These women well could well and truly light a fire under you. One speaks around the topic of being more conscious and aware of your daily decisions, whilst the other highlights how we find time for anything that we deem as important and a priority.
I was truly inspired! How did what they say affect you?
The next morning I set my alarm clock half an hour earlier than I usually wake up (as suggested by Mel). At this point I took the time to think of what else I wanted to achieve and how I can make that a priority (as suggested by Laura). That’s when I really took stock of how much time I have in my day and how I’d 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 demonstrated 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 some more on facebook or Instagram
- Sleep (with the TV on in the background)
Notice how many extra bullet points there are in my day all of a sudden? I went from nine core actions to sixteen in total. I had found pockets of time and now I needed to make sure I was using them effectively.
After February 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!)
- 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 a little bit of TV at the 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’d 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 distractions (Facebook/Instagram/chatting with friends every evening/socialising etc) from taking over these periods. The above things I’ve listed that I enjoy might not float your boat though. Instead, replace them with your own interests and suddenly your day seems a lot more exciting right?
Perhaps if you drive to work, instead of having hands free to be able to read on the train, you could get audio books to listen to instead. This is simply one example of many, but the message is about being creative in how you use your time. The whole experience is invigorating because ultimately you’re reclaiming a big part of that 71% of your week back!
When you start to do re-prioritise parts of your daily and weekly routine, the next step is be structured and consistent with it. How many of us get to Monday and turn around looking behind us for where Tuesday to Sunday has disappeared! Without being consciously aware of your time, it’s easy to let the week and these priority time pockets pass you by if you don’t have a plan to stay on track using them productively each day.
In every week, if we subtract the average of eight hours sleep a night plus forty hours spent at your day job, that still leaves you with 72 hours to do everything else. This will of course include eating, showering, the mundane and day to day tasks, and running around for family and other people. Yet, within there are also those hours and minutes to invest in yourself and the other goals and dreams you have that you want to achieve – so go get it!
Today, right here right now, is all any of us has got.
Yesterday has been and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet.
Here in the present, in this one day happening right now, in which every one of us has 24 hours / 1440 minutes / 86,400 seconds, there is only one question to ask:
How will you choose to spend yours?
*If you would like information on the Business & Personal Coaching services that I offer and pricings, please do go to my Coaching Services page or email me via my Contact page.