It’s true. I know you may not think it, what with your hectic lifestyle, the unrelenting boss who wants everything done yesterday and those demanding kids who won’t give you a seconds peace. It’s easy to feel like the laws of physics have royally screwed you over.
We all feel like everyone else gets more hours in their day than we do, it’s one of those strange beliefs that we all have but it’s just a trick of the mind. Those pesky time bandits haven’t sneaked in and wound the clock forwards while you weren’t looking.
The chances are that you are your own time bandit. You steal your own time when you aren’t looking.
Think about the many incidences during your day when you literally waste time doing nothing of any note whatsoever. Have a look at the following questions and answer them honestly;
- Do you aimlessly watch TV when you get home from work and then wonder where the evening has gone?
- Do you always stay in bed, repeatedly hitting the snooze button until you’re 15 minutes late for work because you just can’t be bothered to get out of bed?
- Is your lunch break spent sat down in the corner of the cafeteria counting down the minutes until you have to go back to whatever it is you’re dreading?
- Do you spend at least one of your days off lounging around the house because ‘you deserve it’ after a hard week?
- Are you disorganised to the point where you can’t find anything and your house looks like it’s just received several hits from a wrecking ball?
- Do you always say yes to every invitation that is passed your way, regardless if it’s from work, family or friends?
Even if you answered yes to just one of those questions then you could probably free up quite a bit of time for yourself.
Let’s look at these questions in more detail;
Do you aimlessly watch TV? – I personally think that watching movies and having a few favourite shows is a harmless and fun way to relax but having the TV on as background noise is very distracting and even if you don’t actively watch it; the noise is often enough to raise your stress levels and disrupt your concentration.
Do you always sleep in late? – One of the easiest ways to throw away potential time is to sleep in to the very last minute. Many of the most successful people in history were early risers and with good reason. Getting your day off to a good and productive start puts you in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the day.
Do you waste your lunch break? – I know your morning was extremely stressful and all you want to do is eat your sandwich and ignore the world but if you have an hour for lunch, there is no reason why you can’t spend say, half an hour, catching up with some study or even hitting the gym.
Do you lounge around on your days off? – It is ridiculously tempting to do nothing on your day off but if you are genuinely struggling to find time for yourself then you will never have a better time in the week to get your stuff done. You day off isn’t designed for chores or paperwork either, it’s a DAY OFF, which means that you get to do all the things that you spend the rest of week dreaming about.
Are you disorganised? – One of the major causes of procrastination and the feeling of letting time slip by is a bad environment. If your surroundings are messy, if you don’t have enough food in the cupboards, if you simply can’t find half of your belongings without a thorough rescue attempt then this will impact your ability to use your time effectively.
Are you a ‘YES’ person? – Now, being a yes person is a very good thing to be, generally. But if you are saying yes to things that you don’t really want to do for fear of upsetting or offending someone then you are wasting your own time. Learning to say no once in a while will give you the opportunity to use that time for yourself.
A lack of free time just means you can’t be bothered
The other reason why people struggle to find time is that they don’t really want to. Have you ever asked someone to do something and they reply by saying ‘yeh, if I find some free time I’ll definitely do it’.
They are probably lying – at least unintentionally.
We all have good intentions and sometimes in the spur of the moment, we totally intend to follow through with out promises. My recent article ‘There is no tomorrow’ touches on the idea that the version of you that makes the plan isn’t the same version of you that has to carry out this plan in the future.
I see this quite often with my students. They leave the lesson promising to practice x amount for the following week but when that next lesson comes they have the same excuse; ‘well I tried to do a bit of practice but I was so busy and then the wife… and then my job… and then school/college/life/aliens got in the way.
Which side of the time argument do they fall on? Are they just letting time slip by or are they refusing to free up time because they aren’t truly invested in their guitar practice?
The key to productivity
Excuses were invented as a means to feel better about ourselves when we fail to do something.
Not having the time just means that you either don’t want to do it or you are allowing obstacles to get in the way.
Therefore I believe the key to finding more time and a productive lifestyle is a combination of two things; firstly you must truly want to do something and secondly you must get rid of your excuses.
Margaret Thatcher used to sleep 4 hours a night and was a very early riser because that was what she needed to do to be the leader she wanted to be.
Award winning author Geoff Thompson wrote his first book whilst sitting on the toilet at the job he hated.
Arnold Schwarzenegger would regularly sneak out of his military school just to train at the local gym.
See a pattern?
They all had a goal and they found a way to replace ‘dead’ time with productive time. Each of us can free up several hours in our day by using the same methods.
Wake up an hour earlier, stop watching rubbish TV and use your break time at work to catch up on something that needs to be done.
That right there is roughly 2/3 hours extra a day, which in turn is 10-15 extra hours over a 5 day working week. Add in a few hours on your two days off and you’ve got roughly 20 hours extra time to put into wherever you feel it is needed.
Do you want to practice a musical instrument?
Are you looking to join a gym or take up running?
Do you want to start a business or generate a second income?
Do you want to write a book, study a course or learn a language?
All of these things can be done with your new found time. 20 hours a week on ANY of these activities will reap great rewards over a period of a few months.
The truth is you don’t need more time. The time is already there, waiting to be used, so start making the most of it before it eventually runs out.