The thing about time is it’s constant; it never stops. It doesn’t care who you are or how much money you make. Someone once said, “Time is the great equalizer.”
We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
How we spend our time defines us.
The number one excuse for not achieving personal goals, whatever they may be, is a lack of time.
“I have no time.” “There is no time.” “I run out of time.” Or “I lose track of time.”
How much time does it really take? Think about it. Maybe your idea of how much time you need to prepare a healthy meal is more about perception than reality. Or the time you need to exercise is dictated by hour-long classes rather than based on your time. In 15 minutes, you can walk around the block. Who says you have to spend 60 minutes exercising? You don’t.
Most of us have the same or similar obligations: work, family, social.
How we use the time we have depends on our lifestyle. Many people believe that you have to change your lifestyle to be healthy. Our lifestyle isn’t determined by the food we eat.
Your lifestyle is determined by what you do with your time. It’s determined by when you get up in the morning, work schedules, commutes, and responsibilities like family, children, relationships, and social obligations—as well as the hobbies we enjoy and activities we engage in.
You might think that everyone else has more time than you. They don’t! Remember, we all have 24 hours in our day.
Time, like a black hole, continues and once gone, we can’t get it back. Take a look at the top five time sucks.
Top 5 time sucks
- Screen Time: Wether it is social media sites, email, television or gaming. Checking, updating and posting takes time. During the process, getting sidetracked is inevitable.
- Commuting: In the major metropolitan areas, this is almost always a part of life. Use this time wisely.
- Waiting: We wait till the perfect time or till we have time. Like the black holes, once time is gone, it’s gone. The time is now.
- Worrying: When we engage in worrying, we stop and often do nothing. This is most certainly a waste of time.
- Comparisons: If we spend our time looking at what other people are doing and comparing ourselves to them, we may never get going. Comparing ourselves to others often results in feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt—truly a waste of time.
How to take back time
- Limit screen time. This includes gaming, television, and checking social media. If work encroaches on your personal time, set limits. Once you leave work, stop checking work emails. I promise the world won’t collapse.
- Change how you think about your commute. Instead of it being a hassle, use the time to listen to audio books. If able—hands-free—call a friend or call your mom. Connect with relatives. Think of this as your personal time.
- Stop waiting and start doing. If you can only go for a 10-minute walk, then just to that. Remember time is relative, if we are always waiting, we are wasting time.
- When uncertainty captures your mind, do something. Write down the worry or concern and list possible solutions. Once we take the thoughts and write them down, we are more likely to be motivated to do something about the concern or realize it’s no concern at all.
- You are the individual you are. Your values and obligations are not like other people’s. Stop looking at your neighbors and thinking you have to be like them. You don’t. You have to be the best version of you, not the best version of your neighbor or co-worker.
S.W.A.T. that thought!
Stop What you are doing, take a breath.
Ask yourself some questions: Is there a better use of my time? Am I comparing myself to other people? What can I do?
Take action: Write down the answers to the questions. If there is something else you can be doing then make a plan to do it. Decide what can you do, and do it.
Time marches on; it doesn’t stop. Our power over time is in how we use it. If we think we don’t have that power, we don’t. Remember, there is no time like the present. How you spend your time is up to you.
I’d love to hear how you spend your time. Comments and suggestions for time hacks are always welcome.
Susan Macey, PhD