5 Simple Ways To Find More Time
By thetinysoprano on November 26, 2009
"I'd love to...but I just don't have the time." Sound familiar? Are there things on your To Do list that always get left behind because you never have enough hours in the day? (Assuming you even have a To Do list!) Or perhaps there's a book you want to write? Or a subject you want to study? Maybe you've always wanted to learn an instrument, or play tennis, or go walking in the mornings, or start practising yoga and meditating... But finding the time...impossible, right?
Not when there are emails to reply to, texts to send, and of course it can take ages to think of something witty, urbane and cool to update your status with on Facebook...you want your friends to think you have a life, right? BUT - do you really have a life when the things that matter most get shunted under the bed every morning in favour of "more sleep"? Are your dreams curling up at the corners, gathering dust on the edges of your life because you have "more important" things to do?
Deep down, we know that "I don't have enough time" is really an excuse. Because there's always enough time. Time is elastic. It flies when we're having fun. It crawls when we focus on it like a boiling pot. Time can be anything you want it to be. The key is making it work for you, instead of frittering it away on stuff that simply doesn't give you joy. We don't say "spending time" for no reason. It is literally the currency of our lives, and what we choose to spend it on will ultimately "buy" us the lives we get. If you are not getting the life you want now, that's simply because you are not spending your time on the buying the right kind of behaviour that WILL get you the life you want. So what can you do right now to start making more time for yourself?
1. Spend a day actively noticing what you spend your time doing. Really observe yourself. Write down what time you wake up, how long it tales to make breakfast, shower, get dressed, shave or do your hair or makeup, how long you check your emails for, how long you surf the net aimlessly following links to things that vaguely seem interesting. How much time you spend on the sofa watching TV, or eating, or on the phone, or sitting on trains, buses or in your car. Did you spend an hour just standing in a queue at the supermarket? Or on the phone? Did you cook for the kids? Play video games? Sit in the pub or a cafe? Walk the dog? Do the ironing? Notice and write down every single one of the things that you spend your day doing. If this is a day pretty much like any other, great, you have a fairly accurate picture of your spending habits. But do this exercise for a few days if your average day varies a lot, that way you will get a much clearer picture.
2. Look for "dead zones". Now that you have a record of all the time you are "spending", go through your list and notice where you are needlessly throwing your time away. You are specifically looking for time where you are physically or mentally doing very little, where you are not required to "be actively present". Where ever you see these moments in your day, focus on finding ways to get more out of them. These are perfect opportunities for you to start multitasking. For example, you could be learning a whole new language while driving to and from work. Or listening to an audio book on the tube. Or ordering your shopping online instead of losing valuable hours meandering down a crowded high street. Look out for these "dead zones" in your day and work out ways to squeeze more life out of them. An added bonus - you're far more likely to spot a dead zone immediately as soon as one crops up. When you catch yourself snoozing in a zone, shake it out straight away!
3. Notice what time you wake up. Most of us get much more sleep than we actually need. By erasing dead zones we are using our time more efficiently. Now we can start adding extra time to our day just by getting up earlier. You would be amazed at how much you can achieve in the early morning, when the day is fresh, still, and quiet. Once you appreciate how valuable this time of the day is, you can start getting up an hour earlier, or more. I get up at 5:30am every morning and it is totally my favourite time of the day. There are no distractions, the birds are awake and I feel totally in tune with the world. It is me time.
4. Notice what time you go to sleep. If you believe you are not a morning person, why not make more of your evenings? So much evening time is totally wasted on things like TV. It can literally suck the life away from you, easily chewing up two or three hours of your precious day. "But I need the TV to help me relax!" I hear you cry. Wouldn't it be more relaxing to know that you are truly giving space for your dreams to have a life? Isn't it more stressful having to listen to that voice in the back of your head whispering "you'll never get it done, you know, this is the only life you'll ever have"? I feel so much more relaxed and peaceful going to sleep at night knowing that I am gradually chipping away at some of my biggest goals than I ever would watching other people's dreams being squashed on "X Factor".
5. Notice what can be cut out of your life completely. Are there things you are doing every day that don't belong in your life at all? If you now realize that by ducking outside for a cigarette break for 15 minutes, 10 times a day is actually using up a whole 2 and a half hours of your life, does this activity still deserve a place on your daily list of things to do? Think of how much extra time you'll gain by cutting down, or stopping altogether, not to mention the extra hours and days you'll be adding for free to your life just by giving up. Another bonus - you'll have all that extra money to spend on other things!
You see, elbowing out the wasted time and making space for the stuff you really want to do isn't really all that hard. There are so many hidden minutes and hours just waiting for you to discover, longing to be filled with action, the kind of inspired action that creates magnificent things. So now that you have discovered where all of this extra time is hidden away, what magic are you going to start creating with it?
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