“All I want is more hours in a day.” How many times have you thought that yourself or heard it from a co-worker, family member or friend? It’s a concept that most of us think on a fairly regular basis. We daydream about what we would do or what we would accomplish, if we just had more time. We grumble that our time is “taken up” by everything and everyone else it seems, leaving us with no time for ourselves. True, the minutes and hours in a day are finite. The ways that we choose how to fill those moments – and they are choices – can have a huge impact. Is it time to think about what are your priorities?
Our society places a places a high value on being busy. Our culture of accepting, almost encouraging someone who grinds through a 50 or 60 hour work week should be a concern to all of us. You almost never hear someone being praised for working “only” a 40 hour week or for not checking work emails on the weekend. The physical and mental stress that results from an imbalance of work and personal life can be dangerous.
The tools and inventions that make our lives easier are abundant, yet we still seem to never have enough time. It no longer takes us hours to wash a batch of clothes like it took our families a few generations ago. A push of a few buttons or a drop off at a laundry service and it’s done. Or take a look at the way we travel. We can get on a plane and be in another city or country in a matter of hours, instead of days, weeks or months of travel like in the past. Meal preparation is measured in minutes rather than hours now.
Now the fact is that the inventions and progress in our societies are great things. They allow us to live longer and healthier lives in many ways. We have options and opportunities like never before. We have the ability to fit more things into our daily lives and to live our lives physically easier and with less risk than our forebears had to. There is a freedom of time-saving devices that gives us choices. Choices that we make every day.
What do we do with that liberated time, those hours that we never had before? We fill them of course, and how we fill them is up to each of us. Yes, we have obligations and demands on our time and necessities that must be attended to. But, remember that each of us is responsible for how those obligations got on our schedules in the first place; and in order to find out how, the question we really need to be asking ourselves is WHY.
The Choices We Make Matter
I used to work with clients, personal training and life coaching. The single most cited reason for not being able to make the sought after changes or to live a happier, more successful life was a lack of time. Followed closely by a lack of energy; not surprising considering how much each of us are doing in a day! A day has 24 hours though – and that will never change – so it takes a harsh look at how we fill those hours to see what is important.
How do we make sure that the things that are important to us don’t get pushed out? Why do the things that we say mean so much to us, fall off the schedule or get constantly pushed from the to-do list? The simple answer is because we don’t make those things a priority and choose them. It may be simple, but it’s not easy.
Take the time to sit down and make a list of what is important to you. Is it more time to spend on a hobby, learning a skill for pure personal enjoyment (and not job oriented), reading the books that are stacked on the bedside table, hiking, writing, or being with your family or friends to just hang out and do “nothing”? The only way to find out what matters is to put some thought to it, something that we tend to not do.
So you have a list of priorities, now what? Now it’s time for you to take a look at how you live your life, now, and how it needs to change to be able to fit those priorities in where they belong.
Be honest and brutal with what is stopping you from filling your time with what you want to be doing. It may be as simple as putting some attention to this and making a little tweak here or there, or it may be a harder awareness that bigger changes are needed. Small changes, big life path alterations or somewhere in the middle, it’s not going to happen without putting in the time to be aware and make changes.
Time that is yours to use how you want.