Hands up if you feel that between work and domestic household management, there’s no time left for you?
These days the demands and distractions of city life mean that more and more people are feeling like there is nothing left for themselves. Life can easily become a merry-go-round routine between work and home and that’s it. And because you’re spending your free time and weekends doing life admin and chores, you don’t even get a chance to really relax.
Valuing your time is the same as valuing yourself and it is important to invest in your wellbeing in order to be effective in all the other things you do. You are not being your best self when you are over-worked, exhausted, moody and distracted.
Everybody wants to solve the mystery of how to find more time, but that is the wrong question. If we had the ability to extend time, we’d simply continue doing what we’re doing, squeezing more into our days, procrastinating and complaining that there STILL isn’t enough time.
Your time in this life is finite.
Choose carefully how you spend it.
Before you give me a list of your excuses, let me just remind you bluntly but compassionately that each day, each week, each year and lifetime is finite.
One day you will die. None of us can escape this fact. If you were to die next week, could you still hold those excuses up to me?
We do not need more time.
What we need is to be smarter about how we choose how to spend our time. And it means learning how to value our time better.
If you imagined each minute of your day to be like gold coins, would you still spend them the same way?
We are usually careful with how we spend our money, so why is it not the same when it comes to your time & energy? Whether it’s FOMO or the fear of saying no, we sometimes just take on far too much until it becomes the norm and we wonder how we are so exhausted all the time. We may love all our friends & family so dearly, but we can’t necessarily be available for everyone all the time. We need to make time for ourselves – even if it’s just for a nap.
I don’t have kids but one of my friends has described me as an over-achiever. I’m the kind of person who, while working in full time employment, goes to evening college to get a diploma, starts a business on top of that, has a few hobbies to participate in on the weekends and still makes time for friends. When I finish one diploma I go study something else and start another project. I love being (or feeling) productive.
I’ve been that annoying person who constantly boasts about how busy I am. I stopped when I realised what a broken record I was beginning to sound like. It’s so boring to be busy, yet it seems that competitively bragging about how busy you are has developed into an urban sport. What it really says to me is that there is something wrong with how we balance our lives. Being this busy is not something to brag about, it’s a real concern if you ask me.
Ruby Wax points out that we invented robots to make our lives easier so that we’d have more time, yet all we’ve done is become the robots ourselves and we work harder than ever before. I mean think about how many people are processing 200+ emails a day! It’s no longer enough to be working at work, now we have laptops we take home, we check emails in the evenings and weekends on our smartphones and even though we get paid the same salary as we might have done 10 years ago, we are doing twice as much work. How did that happen?
I’ve crashed and burned several times by doing too much and I’ve been sick for weeks or months at a time. Then I feel guilty about being sick, so I still work through it because I don’t want to let any of my commitments down – in the end I probably just prolong my recovery.
What I’ve learnt the hard way is that there are limits to what I can do and achieve in a day and a lifetime. There are also limits to what I can give to the people I love.
We can complain all we want, but nothing is going to change in our lives unless we look at the choices we are making. It’s not the outside world or our employers who determine it, if it feels that way then it’s all the more reason to evaluate your choices and what is most important to you.
My father worked incredibly hard running his own successful business, a lot of sacrifices were made, family holidays were cancelled at short notice, weekends brushed aside when work came in. His plan was to retire young so he could spend more time with the family and to follow his real dream of running a small scuba diving business. I was so excited that I would soon get to spend more time with him, but just as he started to put those plans into action, he died suddenly and unexpectedly – he was just 49.
I was 13 at the time so I never got to spend much time with him. He always used to tell me to follow my heart and my dreams and yet he never got to fulfil his own.
It’s the reason I am so passionate about this matter, because I am all too aware of how precious our time is.
I haven’t mastered the perfect balance myself, but I’ve experimented with different lifestyles in order to find what works best for me. I’ve worked full time, part-time, been self-employed and taken extended career breaks to travel and get my energy back. None of these are necessarily the perfect solution as there are pros & cons to everything. What I’ve learnt is that it’s a daily practice in making wise choices.
Everyone has different commitments, so each of us needs to evaluate our own needs & priorities and make decisions that work best for us. Your choices will change all the time in rhythm with how your life changes.
This is about making smarter choices about our time on a daily basis.
So take time for yourself. Say no to invitations if you need to find a window of time in your week. Do something each day to nurture yourself, whether it’s meditating, exercising, going for a walk, reading your favourite book or going to bed early, do something that will make you feel refreshed. Just like watering your plants regularly to make sure they thrive, if you want to live a wholehearted life then you have to nourish yourself – and there is nothing selfish about that.
Photo credit: Rachael Crowe