If you are like most people, you probably feel that you don’t have enough time to do what you have to do, let alone do what you want to do! Between work and home responsibilities, it feels like there is no time to fit in exercise, spend time with friends, or just relax. However, the United States Department of Labor released a survey that states that Americans average 5 hours of leisure time a day. If we do have that time, what are we doing with it that causes us to feel too busy to do what we want? And what could we do to maximize the time we have?
It’s important to figure out what is eating up your time. For most people, the top time wasters are electronics (phone, internet, and email), a lack of a plan, clutter, and procrastination.
We know that checking email or scrolling through Facebook or Instagram often leads to more Internet surfing and distractions. What began as a quick task or break turns into an hour of Likes and updates. Setting a schedule to check email, as in first thing in the morning/mid-day/late afternoon, can help. For Internet use, set the timer on your phone or tablet to limit your “surfing.”
Another way to maximize your time is to be sure to have a plan of what you have to do and what you want to do every day. Without a plan, it’s easy to get distracted and end up not feeling productive. Choose only a couple of items for your list so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Another suggestion is to create a three column plan for the day: what absolutely has to get done, what you hope to accomplish, and what you want to do. For example, your list may be to pay the electric bill (have to), return an item to a store (hope to), and call a good friend (want to). If you make sure to complete the have to and want to, you will not only feel productive, you will have done something that is also important to you.
Clutter is a definite time waster. It can make it hard to find what you need when you need it, and it can also increase stress. Tackle one cluttered area a week. Set up a place for keys, mail, shoes, briefcase, purse, and anything else you need on a daily basis. Add hooks, baskets, bins or whatever will help you have a place for all of your things.
Finally, procrastination is a common way to waste time. Sometimes we procrastinate because the task seems too large, and we feel overwhelmed. If that’s the case, break it down into manageable steps and allow yourself to take a break between each smaller task. Other times we procrastinate because we are disorganized. (The clutter solutions can help with this!) Other ideas to help with procrastination include making up rewards for completing a project, understanding the negative consequences of not doing the task, and doing the most unpleasant jobs first. It can feel great to get those out of the way.
With busy lives, it’s important to maximize time in order to meet goals and enjoy life! Stress from unfinished projects can take a toll on health. Stress can raise blood pressure, blood sugars, and release a hormone called cortisol which can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and has been linked to some cancers.
Reduce stress by making the most of your time and reclaim time in your day for those activities that mean the most to you.
Source: Completely Well Newsletter, October 2022.