The amount of time we have doesn’t change. What we do with it does.
First published in The Ascent
Nov 14, 2017 · 4 min read
I’m busy these days. Stupid busy. You know the kind of busy I’m talking about, probably because you have your own version of it. My busy looks like two kids ages 4 and 6, working as a consultant, teaching part-time, taking an online course, a husband who travels way too much for work, and somehow trying to squeeze in time to write, time to sleep and most importantly, time to relax and connect with the people I love. Over the past year, I’ve found a way to do all those things but it took a wake-up call to get me on track.
A few summers ago, I had this fantasy that if we moved to a quieter city, had calmer jobs, had both kids in school, we would have so much more time. I got a rude awakening.
I went to visit a good friend who has no kids and lives on a farm just outside a small city. All she could talk about was how busy she and her husband are. They haven’t had a day off in months.
Then I ended up in emergency talking to a doctor because I had this funny pain in my right side. For how long? Well, you know, a few weeks but I’ve just been so busy…The doctor stopped my guilty explanation by saying, “I know what you mean, I was rough-housing with my eight year old son and he broke my nose. I didn’t deal with it for three days.” Three days?
Well, clearly older kids or small city living wasn’t going to do it. That’s when it hit me. If I wanted more time, I was going to have to make it. My kids and my clients were never going to say to me, “You know what, my needs can wait — why don’t you go for a swim or do some writing, it’ll be good for you.”
So I started making time for what mattered. And it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I just started replacing my time-wasting behaviour with what I wanted to be doing. Instead of lying in bed every morning feeling cranky that I was awake at such an ungodly hour, I got up and did fifteen minutes of yoga. Instead of going on Facebook the minute I picked my phone up, I made a rule that I had to go on the notes page and write. Last year I started my blog and wrote fifteen posts, and I published two e-books, 9 Strategies for Dealing with the Difficult Stuff and 9 Strategies for Dealing with Stress. The third will be coming out in a few weeks. I hired a babysitter to come every Friday night so my husband and I could go out and enjoy a nice meal and talk about our weeks rather than zoning out in front of the TV. I put down my phone and re-connected with my life — the people and passions that were important to me.
Life will not create the circumstances required for us to have more time for ourselves. We have to create the circumstances ourselves. What do you do that is a total time suck that you can stop doing? Don’t say sleep. Don’t give up sleep (unless you are like I was before I had children and you sleep more than ten hours on a regular basis — man, I miss those days!).
I promise you there are other ways you can make use of your time. Less time watching TV or on social media? Checking your work email after hours? Think of one or two things that you do each day that you could spend less time doing so that you can make more time for what really matters.
The amount of time we have doesn’t change. What we do with it does. And the way we spend our time is the way we spend our lives.
I’d love to hear from you. What nourishes you and what are the ways you can make some time for it?