The way I see it, we have two options when it comes to time. Either you make time in your life for the things you want to do or you go through life on someone else’s agenda. I don’t know about you, but the second option doesn’t appeal to me. This leaves us with only one option – make time in our days for the experiences, adventures, and connections we want.
How do you go from time-poor to time abundant? Our fast-moving culture puts increasing demands on our schedules. Is there a way to change this around? Let me tell you my story.
I used to be in the time-poor category. Managing a digital marketing agency, working with my team and clients, left me with very little time to myself. My work was my life. I’d reach for my iPhone with my eyes only half-open, and be still checking emails in bed long after I turned the lights off. This “always-on” connection made me, even more, time-poor. I realized that I had no time to do anything fun. I had stopped playing. If I exercised I still listened to work-related podcasts or books and still checked emails in between my workout sets.
My health deteriorated. My brain was like scrambled eggs. My sleep suffered. My marriage suffered. One day, I decided I’ve had enough. On a 10-day digital detox trip in Baja, learning to kiteboard, I had an aha moment. I had been so consumed in work that I had forgotten to live. I decided to change my life. You can read my full story here.
I made time in my day for more things I loved doing, like spending time in nature, doing yoga, meditating, cooking dinners and spending time with my husband and dog. I changed my morning habits. I start each day with a set of practices which later turned into the Unhustle Morning course I now teach online. I avoid touching my phone until mid-morning. I have a bed ritual. I put my phone away in the evening and read a book instead. My health improved drastically. My sleep improved. I started a new company, called Unhustle, inspiring people to challenge the 24/7 “always-on” work culture. My productivity and focus increased and now I get things done in less time. I work in a flow, with no distractions and laser focus.
We all have 24 hours in a day but how much of that is free time? RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization conducted a study on how much free time Americans have. They collected data from over 32,000 Americans age 15 and older between 2014 and 2016. The results of the study show that in 24 hours, the average American has 5 hours of free time. What’s defined as free time? Free time was the time not spent on work, commuting, sleeping, or doing household activities like cleaning. They also excluded more debatable activities like self-care, grooming, playing with children, shopping, and family caretaking from the “free time” category. In addition, men reported having a half-hour more free time than women. So what do people do with their free time? Did you guess? Screen time has replaced free time.
“It’s not that we have little time, but more that we waste a good deal of it” – Seneca
Stop Wasting Your Time
On average, we spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on our phones each day, reports time tracking app Rescue Time. The top 20% of smartphone users spend an average of 4.5 hours/day. Most people check their phones 58 times/day with 30 of those being during work hours. Half of the pickups happen within 3 minutes of the previous with 70% of screen time being less than 2 minutes long. Add all this time up and you end up with 3 hours and 15 minutes in a day.
And that’s not all of it. The Journal of Association for Consumer Research found that the mere presence of your phone reduces cognitive ability.
We spend 2 hours and 22 min/ day on average on social media. But instead of feeling more connected we feel more isolated, stressed out and depressed.
We spend an average of 5 hours watching TV.
We spend hours upon hours in our inbox, in useless meetings and dealing with office distractions. When are YOU going to say enough?
To learn more about time-wasters and how you can free up 2+ hours a day, check out our blog post about it.
Make Time for What Matters
You can’t find more time, but you make time for the things you want to do. The following 10 things will help you in the process:
1. Identify the experiences, adventures, and stories you want to have in your life that define you as an individual. These are the things that make you happy. Write them down and schedule them on your calendar.
2. Get into Flow. By doing the things that make you happy, you will get into a flow. Flow is a state of high performance and you will benefit from it at work and in your free time.
3. Learn to prioritize your work and your day better. Focus on 1 – 3 things each day. Identify the 20 percent of projects that will contribute to 80% of your results. Do this 20 % of projects only and ignore the rest.
4. Learn to say No to things that don’t matter. Get out of obligations and commitments that don’t satisfy you.
5. Maximize your time by stacking the benefits, like exercising in nature or meditating in the sunlight in the morning.
6. Get clear on your values and design your life in alignment with them. When you align your life with your values, you will achieve flow more often.
7. Unplug from your phone and go outside. Spend an hour connecting with nature. It will decrease your stress and increase your energy and creativity. The Japanese have a term for this concept. It’s called shinrin yoku and it’s scientifically proven to help you focus, improve your mood and reduce stress, all of which will help you get more done in less time. Read our blog post about it.
8. Track your time for a week and see where you can make changes and do more activities that bring you pleasure and less than leave you depleted. Check your technology habits as part of this process.
9. Create your ideal week. Write down all the things you want to do each day, work and free time. Then measure and see what gets in the way. Make changes to get closer to your ideal week. Revisit every week. 12 months from now, you’ll be further along in reaching your goals to have more time for the things you want.
10. Start today. Take the next 30 days and go through these strategies. Small changes add up to big changes. Know your WHY and keep it always in your mind. Maybe right down on post-it note and put it in the mirror so you see it each morning. Or record it as an alarm. It’s easy to fall back into our old habits. But knowing your WHY will connect you and give you the power you need to make a change.
As I’m writing this article I found out that Chad, a friend of mine from Baja (featured in this article) had a heart attack while mountain biking with his girlfriend in the Canadian mountains. Chad’s not even 50. A guy full of energy, always smiling, financially independent, living his dream life. His time on this planet was cut short but at least he lived the way he wanted – kitesurfing, mountain biking, traveling. We can all learn a lesson from Chad and make time now for the things we want to do. Because if not now then when?
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of” – Bruce Lee
This article first appeared on Unhustle.com.