Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with time. How to manage your time, how to find more time to do the things you love, how to find time to work out…
It just feels like there’s never enough time to fit everything in. Between going to work, taking care of the house and my family, fixing meals, running errands. I’ll admit, sometimes a week goes by when I’ve only managed to fit in one or two workouts.
But here’s the deal. I know when I work out more often I feel better. I have MORE energy, my mental health is better and I feel happier. I know that workouts need to be a priority for me. It’s just that some weeks it’s hard to fit it all in.
So I went on a little search to discover how to manage your time. How will getting a better handle on your time, help you fit in the important things? These are some hard truths I discovered (not all of them are pleasant, but all of them are helpful).
1. Technology is Eating Time
I was thinking a lot about how much time I spend on my phone, on social media and “Googling” answers. I don’t feel like it’s necessarily more than other people, but I do feel like it’s a lot. In the last few months I’ve also been experiencing this phenomenon at work, where at the end of the day when I put in my timesheet, I feel like I’ve “lost” an hour or so. Where does it go? I can’t really account for it…
Well, I downloaded an app called Moment, which tracks your time spent on your phone, and I was shocked (but now I know where that hour goes)!
It turns out, in a given day I was spending between 2-3 hours on my phone! Think about it–you pick it up for two minutes here, scroll through instagram for 10 minutes there. It all adds up. Doing the math, that’s almost a day per week…that I’m spending on my phone…what?! No. Since downloading Moment and app called Forest I’ve been putting my phone down A LOT more. Suddenly I feel like I actually have more time!
2. You’ve Got to Become a Morning Person
Sad but true. If you want to fit in workouts, the best time is in the morning first thing. There are serious benefits to working out in the morning–including eating less throughout the day, burning more fat and building muscle. There are also benefits to getting up early and getting your to-do list done.
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Productivity experts and success mavens often discuss how getting up early is one of their “secrets to success.” Eating the frog (as Mark Twain referred to it) or getting your worst jobs out of the way first, sets your day up for success. Now, is your morning run, really as unpleasant as eating a frog? Um…hopefully not.
BUT getting up early is a struggle. Getting up early, putting on shoes and running is an even bigger struggle. Start setting your alarm a few minutes ahead each morning (like, three minutes per day). Build up to waking up a half-hour to 45-minutes earlier so you have time to workout. Put all your workout clothes by your bed the night before–eliminate your excuses.
3. Time Speeds Up as You Get Older
In the book Time Warped, by Claudia Hammond, she discusses the way age and other factors affect our perception of time. As we get older time seems to “speed up.” this is for a few reasons.
The first is that, to a ten year old, a year is 1/10th of their life. To a forty year old on the other hand a year is 1/40th. With each passing year, there’s just MORE experience to pack in. Years aren’t as “special.” I distinctly remember my 8th year, but my 28th year? Well, that’s more of a blur. There’s not a whole lot we can do about this perception, other than fight it.
The other reason time seems to speed up as we get older, is that we fall into a routine. There aren’t as many opportunities for discovery and exploration. As a child each experience is new. Each day brings tons of memorable and interesting experiences. As an adult, we drive to work, work in the same office, drive home, eat the same dinner, watch TV, go to bed. There’s not as much discovery…
4. Novelty is the Anecdote for Lost Time
BUT, just like kids we can get that novelty back! We can make each day an opportunity for discovery, growth and new experience. We’re never too old for new experiences.
Ever wonder why each day on a vacation feels long (but also goes by fast)? When you look back you often think–Wow, we did a lot over those seven days in England/Mexico/New York…It’s becauses of novelty. It’s why you might not remember an average Tuesday last November, but you definitely remember the Tuesday you spent in Paris on your honeymoon.
We don’t need to travel to experience new and exciting moments either. The idea is to be constantly learning, pushing yourself to try new activities, getting more creative and breaking out of a routine. Take a different road to work and do something unexpected–stop at a different coffee shop, strike up conversation with a stranger, watch a documentary, read a book, explore a corner of your neighborhood you haven’t before–change your running route!
5. Stay Mindful and Present
If you want to have more time and manage your time better, stop living three steps ahead (worrying) or looking back three steps behind (ruminating). We tend to replay scenes over and over in our minds–I should have done it this way, why didn’t I say blah blah blah? We also tend to worry about the future and play out scenarios that haven’t happened yet.
A therapist told me years ago, “You know, you aren’t psychic, right? Your worry doesn’t predict the future.” This was such an ah-ha moment for me. Do I spiral down the worry road still? Oh yes, of course, but I remind myself of the quote by Gavin de Becker from his phenomenal book, The Gift of Fear, “What most people about has a low probability of occuring, because we tend to take action about those things we feel are likely to occur. This means that very often the mere fact that you are worrying about something is a predictor that it isn’t likely to happen.”
Mindfulness is the opposite of worry, fear and rumination. When you’re mindful, you’re fully present in the moment at hand. You aren’t playing scenarios in your mind or imagining conversations. You’re aware of what’s happening in the moment. I’ve been using the Headspace app to boost mindfulness, which I HIGHLY recommend.
6. You ALWAYS Have Time for Your Priorities
Another truth I discovered on my search? You ALWAYS have time for your priorities. Think about it–how many of us skip meals or don’t brush our teeth, or are literally so busy we can’t take a shower? I’m guessing very few. We might feel rushed when we do it. We might feel stressed out and don’t take the time to floss or do a deep conditioning treatment on our hair…BUT we still make time for it.
Why? Because it’s a priority. Brushing your teeth feels good. There’s a reward (no mucky-mouth) and it doesn’t take long. We make it a priority and squeeze it in, even if we’re rushing around in the morning.
My insight about my phone usage was a big one for me. Obviously, I make “looking at my phone for three minutes” a priority many times during the day. Instead of spending those three minutes doing that, what could I spend them doing instead? I could be more productive at work. I could get home ten-fifteen minutes earlier, giving me more time to spend with my family. I need to adjust my priorities. Do I want to fit in a run? Then I need to choose to make it a priority. Period.
In the end, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. However we spend it–doing healthy activities, zoning out, or wasting our time–when it’s gone it’s gone. Keeping these time-waster truths in mind has helped me become more productive and better manage my time.