Maybe you aren't as time-crunched as you think
Wall Street Journal writer Laura Vanderkam wrote an interesting column last week suggesting we all likely have more time than we think. She came upon her discovery by keeping a time log, not unlike the food journals most diet experts tell you to keep to show how all the mindless eating and snacking can add up. (Sure enough, there's an app for time tracking) Turns out, there's lot of mindlessness in time in our day as well.
She writes: I soon realized I'd been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn't even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing. I'm not alone in this time fog.
Indeed. We all have had those "Where did the time go?" moments where we feel like little got done in a whole day. We feel, too often, like we are running in place on a really fast treadmill set to maximum speed but nothing truly big gets acccomplished.
We all have 168 hours a week, she notes. How you spend them may need some more mindfulness. She suggests keeping a time log for a week and adding up the totals. Checking Facebook five times a day at six minutes a pop adds up to two-and-a-half hours a week (that's about the amount of time doctors recommend you spend exercising)
While I found myself nodding along as I read this column at 6 a.m. (because this working mom finds the wee hours of the morning are my best chance to surf the Internet undisturbed) but then I looked at my day ahead and realized how much of my time is captive to obligations. I had 2 hours from that moment to get a little work done on the computer, get kids fed, dressed and off to school and get myself out the door. Then I had my work day followed by taking my older son to after-school band practice and my own required meeting at school. So I didn't get home until 8 p.m. My husband had made a great dinner waiting for us, so we had a nice meal and then it was time for cleanup, baths, checking homework, etc. By 9-ish when time was finally my own again, I was spent. Vegging out on the couch was my down time.
So her suggestion is to first honestly evaluate what you are spending your time on, so you can then more adequately make some choices. If you're working 50 hours a week, and sleeping eight hours a night (56 per week) that leaves 62 hours for other things. That's kind of liberating to think about the choices you then make to set aside time for familiy life or exercise or just sitting in a nice spot with a good book. But that requires choices like swapping out two hours of TV for reading.
I also like her suggestion to change your language. "Instead of saying 'I don't have time' try saying 'it's not a priority,' and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. ... 'I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.' If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point."
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma