“I don’t have time” is probably one of the most commonly repeated (and horribly abused) phrases ever. The great paradox is that the more options we have when it comes to choosing how to spend our time, the more it feels like we don’t have time to do anything at all.
We’ve all felt it before: there’s always that one person you know who gets so many things done they somehow make it seem like they’ve got more than 24 hours a day. In contrast, you’re exhausted just from your 9 to 5; fitting in anything else often seems close to impossible.
The thing is, though, it’s not actually that you don’t have time. Time travel has so far remained a figment of our collective imagination; everyone gets the same amount of time to work with every day without exception. So what gives? Why is it that you always feel like you don’t have time? How do you take back control of your time (and by extension, of your life?)
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Clearly, the first and most critical thing you have to do for yourself is figuring out where your time goes in the first place. For most people, though, when they sit down and think about how they spend their time, they tend to paint a relatively inaccurate picture of things.
In other words, they often underestimate how much time they waste each day, and overestimate how much time they spend actually being productive. If nothing else, it boils down to the very human tendency to preserve a good self-image.
If you’re serious about reclaiming your time, though, you need to be more methodological; conducting a time audit on yourself will really allow you to see exactly where your 24 hours go. There are a plethora of time-tracking apps out there, so make full use of them. Over a one-week period, keep a time log of how you spend your time. You might want to note, in particular, how much time you typically spend on:
Then look at how you ideally want to be spending your time, and how you can rearrange your schedule and be more intentional about your daily choices in order to achieve that ideal vision of yours.
Sometimes it’s not so much that you’re being unproductive or that you’re wasting time. You might have specific routines in place, and you might be meticulous about how you plan your schedule, but somehow it still feels like you’re not really in control of where your time goes.
A lot of the time, it’s probably because you’re operating on autopilot mode; you go about your daily schedule without really being aware of what you’re doing or how you’re dividing your time, because you’re just so used to a particular way of doing things.
It may not sound like such a bad thing, but in the long run, it can slide into disengagement and even eventual job burnout. When you’re on autopilot mode, it’s often a sign that you’re not challenging yourself enough and that you’ve gotten too comfortable where you are.
To that end, it’s important to eliminate the tedium of repetitiveness and be more deliberate about keeping things exciting for yourself. That means changing your routine up every once in a while, and more importantly, constantly searching for new challenges to keep your mind sharp and stay on your toes at work.