“Even Beyoncé only has 24 hours in a day”- Confucius
OK, so, confession time, full honesty, and this may shock you, but Confucius may have not been the one to say that, but I whole-heartedly agree with the sentiment. No matter who we look up to, they don’t have a time machine. They are all tied into the same 24 hour constraints, and need to eat and sleep. We all have (roughly) the same amount of time. The question is: how are you going to use it?
The most commonly heard excuse is “I don’t have the time.” “I don’t have time to go to the gym… I don’t have time to cook healthy”. I hear you, we all lead busy lives and have a lot going on, these days more than ever. Many times, when I get home from work, I feel like all I want to do is sit in front of Netflix and drink a glass of wine. “I deserve it!” “I work hard”. And what about other activities, like finishing the shed, working on that craft project, or going to the gym? “Forget about it, I don’t have the time!”
But as we’ve already established, we ALL have the same amount of time. We don’t HAVE time for things, we MAKE time for things. It’s a giant difference of perception when you consider these two statements. When you think “I don’t have time to go to the gym”, you emphasize the fact that you are busy BUSY! When you think “I don’t make time to go to the gym”, you emphasize the truth behind your statement: that this is an activity you don’t value and therefore do not prioritize. There is nothing wrong with that, we don’t all need to value the same things. The gym is just an example.
For instance, Mr. SS typically falls asleep within just a few minutes of reading just about anything in print. Put a book in his hand, and he’s out like a light. However, he’ll talk at length, and attempt to explain to Mrs. SS, about the specific tone, quality, and temperature of a specific recording, he’s a total audiophile, therefore he values music and auditory media far more than books. I, on the other hand, am a total bookworm. Sometimes consuming three or four novels in a week, and sound? Ehh… whatever tangled, shorted-out, dollar store headphones are fine “As long as they don’t shock my ears” (this is a direct quote). We hear it all the time “Oh movies? I don’t have time to watch movies…” No, you don’t make time to go to the theater, and that’s fine, you clearly don’t value film, but there’s a BIG difference. What are the things you DO value? What are the things you MAKE time for?
My most recent example includes, of all things, cuddles. Both Mr. Sweetspot and our remaining pup, Gumbo, loooove cuddling. I have busy mornings, fight to be a morning person and didn’t use to have time for such nonsense. Until one morning I had two realizations. First off, you can get quite a lot of cuddling done in a mere three minutes. Try it- I dare you. More importantly, I am not comfortable thinking about myself as a person who doesn’t make time to cuddle her husband. Or her puppy. It was completely within my power to change this. I made a goal for myself to slow down my mornings and get in all those extra cuddles. I also found a meditation to do with our dog Gumbo. The concept is simple- you can try it yourself: In your mind you imagine you are seeing your dog for the first time and greet him, or her with the appropriate enthusiasm. Gumbo really enjoys these, and surprisingly, I do too!
In addition to cuddles, workouts are something which we’ve both made a priority. We love to go to the gym and it makes us feel better both physically and mentally. Therefore, we make gym fees a financial priority (although fully acknowledging that one can work out for free). We also make time to go. There’s that phrase again MAKE TIME. I spend 5-6 hours at the gym every week. It’s a lot of time, but for me, this is time well spent. To make it work, I go during my lunch hour and counter it by eating lunch at my desk. This wouldn’t be a solution for everybody, but it’s both efficient and sustainable for me.
Finding solutions can be tricky. We recommend the following steps.
- Identify YOUR priorities
What are the things you wish you had more time for? Is there anything you say you don’t have time for that makes you feel differently when you rephrase it as something you don’t make time for? Find a few things that matters to you. Don’t start with more than 3, so that making the time remains manageable.
2. Find spare time
I know, I know- easier said than done. But here are some things to look at. How much TV are you watching a day? (And yes, YouTube counts) Are you spending more than 10 minutes on social media? Are there chores you could forego, such as doing laundry less often or cooking meals in larger batches? Is there anything you’re saying yes to that you could drop completely? Are you answering any of these questions with an excuse?
- Make it work
Now that you’ve identified some pockets of time, what can you reasonably accomplish in that time? Don’t discard increments of 10-15 minutes, those can still be productive and utilized better than you think. Start small, until the activity becomes a habit. Remember, your spending this time on things that matter to you. Go in with joy and gratitude.
- Accept that you will fail
I am filled with joy and gratitude for all that I get to do, for all that I make time to do. I’d be lying, however, if I said that we always succeed at the above. Things get derailed, things don’t work, and unplanned events happen. At the beginning of the week we did not anticipate that Mr. SS would spend 3 hours at the doctor’s office, where he was diagnosed with a fractured rib. Yes, this visit took priority over previous plans. His physical limitation put a moratorium on weight lifting for 2 weeks. Stuff will happen, sometimes things out of your control. One day you will be ill. Sometimes a bad/lazy day will get the best of you. Keep in mind, even if you fail to make time in 50% of cases… you still have a 50% success rate. Let’s look at it another way. Let’s say, you plan to make time to do the things you’ve always wished you could do, for 10 hours this week. At the end of the week, you only managed to squeeze in 5 hours. That’s 5 hours you didn’t do the week before, an increase of 100%! Make time for what’s important.
What do you make time for? What would you like to do more of? How do you free up time for your priorities?!
For more reading, and detailed advice on finding spare time, I strongly recommend the book: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. Have you read this book, another book or heard a great podcast that helped you? Let us know in the comments.