It’s ubiquitous and it’s stressful. It seizes you and drains you. It leaves you longing for the good old college days, where responsibility was minimal and adult expectations hadn’t set in. We’re talking about time strain. Time, like money, is a finite resource. We only have so much of it, and what we do with it is totally up to us. Even when we think we’re enslaved to it, we’ve still made choices to absolve ourselves of it.
What to do? The crisis of not enough time is one that needs careful attention. As a psychotherapist, I help people take their time back, and uncover the things that keep them enslaved to time and their busy lives.
As Americans, we’ve gotten so much busier. No longer is the 40-hour workweek the standard. It’s more like 45, 55, and 70 hour workweeks for some. It’s become more difficult for many to make ends meet without two people earning a living, trying to provide childcare, and find time for themselves.
In some ways, the recession has allowed us to take a hard look at how we invest ourselves, our time and our money. Many Americans are choosing to spend less time working, and more time investing in the things they value, like their kids, family, travel, etc.
Let’s talk about six things you can do plug the time drain in your life, and to start to reel your schedule back in:
- Identify what you really value: are your activities and actions aligning with the things you value in life? If not, it may be time to make an action plan to get those things to align (activities/behaviors and values). If you’re unhappy at work, is it reasonable to work less, or to look for something else entirely? What are the blocks to get your values to line up with your activities/behaviors?
- Get time-organized: this one is a no brainer. If you’re seeping time, and don’t know where it’s going, maybe you can make yourself more accountable. Here’s some tools to help: designer David Seah produces these fine organization tools, where you can start to hold yourself accountable on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Teux Deux is a sleek, no frills online to-do list. And Google had plenty of products, from online apps, a calendar, and other tools to get you organized. Also, TSheets tracks your time online, like expenditures, so you know how and when your time is being used. And you’ll be surprised how much time you’ve spent on YouTube once you start.
- Read the previous post on saying “no” to commitments to others, and learn to have more free time and not feel guilty doing it.
- Prioritize and carve out time for yourself, even if it’s only five or ten minutes a day to do some sitting meditation. Without time for yourself, you’re less likely to be effective to all the other demands of your day. You’re teaching yourself to be able to “input” as well as “output” to others, which is hard for many guys to do.
- Ask for help! If you can’t handle everything, don’t be so proud that you don’t ask for help. No one cares, except you. Enlist others to help where you need it, and don’t be shy. People are more than happy to help, as long as you don’t take advantage of them.
- And, make good time for sleep. Sleep is the great equalizer when you get it, and will undermine everything else if you don’t. Get your 6-8 hours of sleep a night (some people need more than others). When you prioritize sleep, as well as yourself (see tip 4), you’re creating a very effective foundation to be your most effective at juggling the myriad things/people/situations that will absorb your time, including work. Do this one above others. Get some good nightly sleep.
Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to experience more feelings of “centeredness” and less feelings of being scattered. You’ll be able to take back your life and time, rather than continue to feel like you’re catching up to it. Good luck, and let me know how it goes. E-mail me directly on the “Contact” page above.