Where does the time go?
As we get older it seems the demands on our time only increase. The days are busy enough but it seems that no sooner do we start the week then it’s the weekend again, then another month has gone by, another round of family birthdays has been and gone, and before we know it we’re getting ready for Christmas all over again.
At a seminar I attended last year, one of the speakers was discussing how he manages to run a busy kinesiology clinic, answer queries from clients out of hours, give talks, develop several other businesses, and still have time to spend with family and friends. He then asked “How do I fit it all in? How do I do that?”
Most of us have bad habits – to a greater or lesser extent – when it comes to time – I certainly do! Apart from the stress of repeatedly putting off the tasks we least want to do, not planning or having a clear focus of where we want to be in the future, or lack of mindfulness in each moment, modern life provides us with plenty of excuses to avoid doing things that would help us feel less under pressure from one day to the next, or even those things that would be stepping stones towards achieving our innermost dreams and desires.
Twenty years ago, the smartphone was the stuff of science fiction; now, they’re everywhere. Not only do they enable us to communicate with each other in most places across the planet, we also have access to the entire repository of world knowledge in the palm of our hand. They can also be a fantastic time-waster – or recreational tool, depending on how you look at it! How much time do you spend on Facebook? Or watching videos of cats on YouTube? Or playing Candy Crush (other apps are available…)?
Back to the seminar…
The speaker mentioned how watching television kills creativity and presented the maths to support that assertion. If you watch TV for an average of 2 hours a day – not that unreasonable, though I know not everyone has the luxury of time even for this – you lose a month every year:
2 x 365 = 730.
730 ÷ 24 = 30 days 10 hours.
But I disagree.
It’s even worse than that.
You’re not awake for 24 hours a day, so let’s say you sleep for roughly 8 hours a night, and lets say you spend another hour in total getting up in the morning (including breakfast) and going to bed at night. So that leaves 15 hours a day.
Then hopefully you also take time out to eat, typically 2 meals a day (we’ve already allowed for breakfast). This is a bit more tricky; let’s be conservative and say 30 minutes for lunch and an hour for an evening meal as an approximation (though it could easily be one and two hours respectively, particularly when you include preparation and clearing away/ washing up time).
Ok, we’re now down to 13.5 hours a day of potentially productive time. So for our 2 hours a day of TV time, that eats into our productivity time each year by:
730 ÷ 13.5 = 54 days 1hour.
That’s 7 weeks and 5 days – not far off 2 whole months – 14.8% or just over 1/7th of a year.
That’s the time you used to have for summer holidays when you were a kid at school!
All work and no play…
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of my smartphone; I love watching a good movie; I enjoy being entertained, informed and occasionally even educated through television. And let’s face it, when you get home after a day’s work, have sorted the kids out, had tea, etc, the downtime is greatly appreciated!
What I’m suggesting here is that with more mindfulness in each moment, and awareness of how we choose to spend our time, we empower ourselves to become more productive and get more out of our recreation time too.
One suggestion for being more productive in less time is use of the 80:20 rule. Spending 80% of your energy on the most important 20% of tasks will achieve far more with less stress than trying to divide your attention equally between everything. Blocking out parts of the day in the diary for particular activities will help with focusing on what you want to achieve. And while we’re at it, we can use all this great technology to give us a productivity edge; from basic to-do list apps, to programs that can help sort, categorise and action your emails, either on your smartphone or computer.
So what’s your dream?
Write it down. Visualise it. Focus on it.
How will you get there? What do you need to do first? What next? And after that?
When can you do fit each step in? Book the time in the diary. Book your breaks in too if you want to.
If you’re working on your goal but get distracted and run out of time, don’t beat yourself up; just book the next slot in. It might take longer but you’re still on your way.
And don’t forget to smell the flowers, enjoy the sunshine, and be with those you love along the way.