‘I don’t have enough time’ was 4th down in my google search of ‘I don’t have enough …’ which leads me to believe I am correct in thinking that this is a common problem amongst us in this busy fast-paced world we live in.
But is it actually true?
Is time an illusion? I know some Greek philosophers and Einstein had theories on this, but I’m not into Quantum physics, so I’ll give my version.
I think time is related to perception and choice.
I have had periods of my life which were care free, busy, but still relatively care free. As I became a mother and my parents started to get older my ‘free time’ became less and less, but there was of course the same amount of time to be had. I just chose to use it differently. I chose to care for our children and for my elderly parents.
As our children’s activities demanded more of our time; especially as their sport intensified in their teens and there was lots of travelling to be done, time seemed to shrink, but in reality it didn’t. As parents we chose to give up our ‘free’ time to support our children’s sport and passions. So to add to perception is now the word ‘choice’.
So many of us seemed to get stressed with ‘I don’t have enough time’ I was totally guilty of this. As parents we were travelling heavily across the country, both struggling with certain aspects of our health, my husband was running his own business, and my elderly parents needed more and more urgent care. The reality was for us at this point was that we had to give up certain things, after all there was only so many hours in the day right – hence the ‘I don’t have enough time’ – but you see we actually do.
I gave up putting my own needs first because I CHOSE to put my family and my parents first. I know my husband did a similar thing too. When we choose to put things before our own needs we are making that choice. We all have the same amount of time, I chose to not have certain boundaries in place then because I was coming from a place of giving, and I chose that.
More recently I have gone through major times that ‘stole’ my time. I was wrapped up in grief after losing my mother, my father and my sister and more, in under 2 years. I chose to go through my grief, to work through it, knowing that to suppress it wasn’t good, but it took time. It robbed me of my superpower – reading, it robbed me of joy and happiness but I know going through that time, what a difference it has made to me and my outlook on life now.
Very recently I underwent unexpected major surgery and I’ve lost the ability to walk for a couple of months. This has again increased my awareness of time. I’ve been able to do a lot of things that I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t because I chose to do other things over it. For example I’ve been meaning for years to put my photos on my phone in order. Other things were more interesting to me so I chose to do them instead. Now that I have ‘more time’ due to being limited I’ve done this job and am feeling pretty happy about it.
I already feel better saying ‘I’m choosing to do this instead’ instead of ‘I don’t have time’ because it gives me my power back, it make me see my life choices and whether I am happy about them. It also sets my boundaries in place and that is vital to our wellbeing.
There are always going to be busier times than others; children, elderly parents, new job, moving house, ill health, new skills etc. but perhaps we are better normalizing ‘I cant do that today sorry’ or ‘I’m full on at the moment I’ll get back to you’ instead of ‘I don’t have time’.
It stops us projecting our own guilt onto others and I believe this is also important for our use of ‘relaxing time’. When we are constantly telling ourselves that we don’t have enough time, it impinges on our ability to utilize our time for rest and recuperation, which is just as important as our use of time for any other purpose (if not more).
I believe we also add to our own stress when we are constantly telling ourselves we don’t have enough time. It’s truly pointless to believe that we will ever get on top of our workload, our gardens, our housework, our ironing – for the minute it is done, more soon follows! I’m very much conditioned from my childhood to get things done and out the way – this is a big trigger for me and it’s proved very useful in being efficient, however I’ve come to realise that there will always be more; more work, more garden to tend too, more jobs to get done. When I’m in a particularly busy period I’ve
retrained my brain to think differently now, rather than the rush of getting things done, done, time, time etc. which in turn has reduced my stress levels significantly.
I remember a poem about time that I first heard in my teens by Henry Van Dyke –
“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.“
Henry Van Dyke
For some reason this poem has always stayed with me, perhaps as a young women without the use of the web/social media time did feel different to me than it does today, in fact I’m pretty sure of it. I remember being actively bored as a child, but this led me to read voraciously which has proved pretty useful since!
If we can learn to rethink our priorities (do you have to respond to every email you get? does that bed sheet really need ironing?) then time will work better for us. One of the times of the day to get things done well is first thing. Those ‘put off tasks’, difficult tasks, boring and long tasks, yep, tackle them before you do anything else.
Make sure you are aware of the ‘empty hours’ used scrolling through social media, give yourself an allocated time limit each day, these really do eat away at our precious time.
Guard your time wisely by setting your boundaries as I’ve mentioned before. I have learnt that boundary setting has been one of the most efficient ways for me, it’s ok and perfectly normal to say ‘no!’
We don’t always get to do the things we love, and see those people we would like, but true friends will be there for us long after our ‘busy periods’ and busy periods do eventually petter out enabling us to appreciate those special and precious moments even more.
Press pause and think about what time means for you, and perhaps you could benefit from saying ‘I choose’ rather than ‘I don’t have enough time’ too.
Please get in touch if you would like further help with this, as a certified life coach I can help you manage your time efficiently and prioritize your life accordingly. If you have gotten this far, many thanks for reading this blog.