Self-Help Myths: There Is Never Enough Time In The Day
“I never have enough time!” I bet you’ve heard people say that often. It’s quite likely that if you are reading this blog you will also have said it plenty of times too, and you want to do something about it. When I was in my getting (any) thing done stage several years ago I often felt the same way. Then I spent several months out of work and I suddenly had so much time I didn’t know what to do with it. This made me rethink my views on those precious hours constantly ticking away…
Because time is a finite resource we seem to have this inbuilt instinct to not waste it and try and make the most of it. Hence we fill our time up with stuff. Do you get that urge? It usually hits me most on a Sunday when my to-do list is complete and I’m supposed to be relaxing. The problem with this is that being busy means f**k all if you’re not doing the right things. It’s almost as bad as sitting on your ass all day (every day) watching the TV. Both approaches mean you’re wasting your time and your energy. We wouldn’t be happy if our power stations, with all the coal they burn, could only provide the power to light one street. Alternatively, think of the environmental uproar cars would create if they all had the fuel efficiency of a Ferrari.
As an example of how predictably bad we are with time, Parkinson’s law states in basic terms that work expands to fill the time available to it. If you have a week to complete a small project chances are you will milk that week for all it’s worth. If you have a day to clean your home before guests arrive in the afternoon, you probably won’t really start tidying until thirty minutes before they come knocking (having spent most of the day choosing to unknot your hoover cable). Both are examples of how inefficient we are with our time (thankfully Parkinson’s law can be also manipulated to our advantage).
Hopefully you can see how becoming more effective (choosing the right tasks) and efficient (doing those tasks in an economical way) will make the difference between whether you are saying, “I don’t have enough time!” or, “I have plenty of time, let’s do something fun!” I think a part of our psyche gets scared at the idea of having free time so we rush in and try to fill it up, when instead we should be looking for the right balance. It’s time to break that mindset.