It’s safe to say that most of us feel like we don’t have enough time. We feel like we don’t have enough time to spend on work projects or hobbies. We don’t have enough time to fold the laundry, do the dishes, or mop the floors. We don’t have enough time to get organized. We don’t have enough time to catch up with our loved ones over the phone, let alone hang out with them in person. We don’t have enough time to rest or sleep or go out.
We regularly lament how busy we are, and how much more time we wish we had.
This is certainly valid. You likely have a long to-do list and many responsibilities. You likely could use an additional hour—or 5 each day.
But what’s also true is that we could benefit from becoming more intentional and ruthless with our time. We could benefit from paying closer attention to what’s actually going on.
Because when you delve a bit deeper, you might realize that you have more time than you think. You might realize that if you make a few small changes, you could transform how you feel for the better.
And that starts with asking yourself some (possibly difficult) questions. After all, self-awareness is the first step to meaningful change.
In the book Just a Minute Now: Be Inspired to Steal Back a Minute in Your Busy Day, Nicole Treasure shares a variety of valuable questions for us to reflect on. Below, you’ll find some of my favorites.
Set a timer for 10 minutes (or more, if you have it). Take out a piece of paper or your journal, and see what comes up when you explore these questions:
- Is this really how you want to spend your time?
- When was the last time you turned your phone off?
- How do you want to be remembered by your family?
- What inspires you every day?
- What impact would some creativity have in your life?
- What’s the best thing that has happened to you today?
- How could you design your day?
- What are you doing when you feel your time is well spent?
- How does this influence other aspects of your life?
These questions remind us that we’re not slaves to our schedules. We are in charge. While your time might be limited for all sorts of reasons—demanding job, kids, work travel—you can still find ways to design your days so they incorporative activities that are important to you. You can design your days so they fulfill you. You can adopt different tools and tricks to help you be strategic.
For instance, instead of writing a traditional to-do list, you might write down the task along with the time needed to complete it. You might schedule important activities before adding anything else to your days. You might outsource unwanted tasks (to everyone from your kids to someone you hire). You might set limits on social media, so you savor the time you’re on it, and stop before your eyes start glazing over. (You’ll find more expert tips in this piece.)
You can organize your home, so it makes your life a whole lot easier. You can toss or donate the many, many items you don’t need anymore, which means you’ll have less to organize (and keep track of). You can create routines around current challenges, such as having set days for laundry, grocery shopping, and dinner prep. (Here are additional simple organizing tips.)
Another question Treasure includes in her book is: If I could grant you one wish around time, what would it be?
After you write down your response, consider how you can make that wish come true. Think small. Even tiny. Because tiny steps bring you a whole lot closer to your desires than simply standing still.
Sometimes, it’s not extra hours that we’re missing. Sometimes, we need to adjust what we do with the hours we have. Because sometimes the issue is that we haven’t paused to examine how we’re actually spending our days. We haven’t gotten off the roller-coaster.
And when we take a closer look, we might find that with a few small but strategic changes, we have, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her time management parable, Juliet’s School of Possibilities, “all the time in the world.”