Time, or the lack thereof
This is a very common predicament that we often find ourselves in.
I don’t have time to exercise.
I don’t have time to clean the house.
I don’t have time for a hobby.
I don’t have time to finish my work.
I don’t have time to cook dinner.
I don’t have time to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner.
I don’t have time for sleep.
I don’t have time for ____________.
The feeling of not having enough time finds its way into every aspect of life. We don’t have time to do something for ourselves or others because we are too busy trying to accomplish something else.
For example, we all know [should] know that it’s important to take care of our health by eating right, getting adequate sleep, having fun etc. But how often does work, or anything else get in the way? Check the scenarios below:
How many of us would go to the gym before work, except that we need that time to eat breakfast and prepare to head out for the day?
How about this, you do get up on time for your job, but you don’t have time to eat breakfast if you want to be at the office on time? Maybe you decide that you want to go to sleep earlier so you can wake up even earlier, but you have to continue to work late into the night EVEN after you leave the office?
Therefore you can’t go to sleep earlier and then can’t get up early to exercise or eat breakfast, and then you go to work lacking energy, and keep dragging yourself around the office until you find that cup of liquid energy to carry you to 5pm.
Rinse, repeat ad infinitum.
There’s never enough time. Not until we decide that there is.
There are a myriad of resources for time management. All of them promising to help you get more done in less time, become more productive, being more productive with less stress, how to be productive on your days off, how to utilize each hour of the week productively; see the trend?
We’re constantly trying to work, to be more productive, to do more. However, this in turn has caused many people to feel a lack of control in their lives. Productivity has taken their time, and taken their freedom. Or so it seems.
We can decide that we do have time. Take a minute to think about that statement. There are so many hours during the day, if you have a 9-5 then you have a schedule set out for you to do work. If you don’t (i.e. self-employed or otherwise), then set aside hours for yourself as if you did.
When you work, do work. Be productive, by all means. However, when you aren’t working, then do something else. Work on a hobby, go outside, eat, sleep; do something you enjoy, or do nothing at all. As long as you aren’t taking your work into your now mandated break time, then you’re good.
At first it might be difficult. You’ll draw blanks when thinking of what to do. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work that we forget what we used to be interested in, or are reminded that we didn’t take the time to learn what interested us in the first place.
The thing is, having any sort of steady schedule doing an activity that doesn’t consistently present creative challenges can cause us to fall into the habit of just going through the motions. This causes work to bleed into other areas of life that are less structured, like meal times, hobbies and even family.
By separating work from those other areas of life, making those other activities a necessary part of your day, will cause this illusion of “I don’t have time” to disappear. It won’t happen overnight, because building habits takes time.
The first step is to recognize that you do have time. The next step is to use that time for the activity that you’re longer going to put off.
Short-Guide to Starting a New Habit
1. Affirm the new action at the start of every single day.
I’d love to say that you can form a new habit in only 21 days or some definitive time period. The fact is that everyone is different. A study has shown that on average it could take about 66 days for a new action to become automatic. However, the differences in people and almost infinite variety of new habits can change the time frame anywhere from tens to hundreds of days.
2. Tell someone about it.
Having an accountability partner is beneficial no matter what new undertaking you are trying. When forming a new habit, it can be just as useful. While you may have the strongest will out of everyone you know, having that extra support behind you can help keep you to that goal. When we fall, it’s nice to have someone help us back up. It can keep you from saying something like “well since I’ve failed once it won’t matter if I do it again” – this happens more often than we’d like.
Everyone loves gettin’ stuff. Incentives can encourage you each day to accomplish your goal. For me, tasty food or drinks are the best incentive. I’ve been implementing the habit of writing an essay every single day, and reward myself with a healthy snack after I finish.
This one might not be for everyone, especially since journaling might be a new habit to start in and of itself. However, keeping a short evening journal just to record your progress can help as well.
Make a new entry each evening, writing if you did or didn’t practice your new habit. Write what worked for you that day and what you struggled with. Before you end the entry, try to think of something you could change that would help you with whatever you had struggled with, so that you don’t have to face the same struggles each day.
Setting a new habit is an ongoing process. The act of practicing the habit is something that needs to be done every day. Eventually it will feel so natural that you will perform it almost without thinking.
You can use this guide to recapture lost time if you’d like. But I’ve included it because it can also be used to change bad habits and thought processes. Constantly thinking that you don’t have time and then making that into your reality by bringing your work with you everywhere is a habit that can be changed, but only if you want to change it.
Your reality starts within you, and you make it real.