Would you consider yourself a “busy” person—packed schedule, multitasking this and that and the whole shebang? I think I would. I’m pretty sure you would too. We’re all self concerned enough to think we do the equivalent of run small countries in our daily lives. But, are we really as busy as we think we are? Eh, probably not. I’d venture a guess to say that if you’re less like Arianna Huffington or Ivanka Trump and more like your average Jane, there’s probably some spinning your wheels that you do. Not to belittle the actual difficult tasks you might encounter in your days or the contribution to life you make and all that — I’m not going for some political statement here. But, if we were totally honest with ourselves, we’d have to admit that not all the time in our day is efficiently used — even relaxation or sleep time.
We all could learn to capitalize on our time better. Maybe that means not wasting time tinkering with our iPhones before we go to sleep (or in the middle of the night when we wake up to go to the bathroom). Or maybe it means realizing that, added together, all the time you spend spinning your wheels “here and there” could actually allow you to get to that exercise or cleaning you say you never have time for (you’d just have to give up all those 10 minute chunks of time you spend laying on your bed and playing with your phone).
Author Laura Vanderkam points out that we all have 168 hours in the week. So when we look at people who are able to “do more” than we do, it’s often simply because they manage their time better. She explains that “we are prone to over- or under-estimate things based on socially desirable perceptions or current emotions. For instance, few of us love the routine aspects of housework… So if someone asks us how much time we spend on such things, we overestimate — by something on the order of 100 percent for both men and women–compared to the actual numbers recorded in time diaries. In fact, people are so bad at estimating how much time they spend doing things after the fact that their overestimates can lead them to say that their weeks add up to 180 hours — or even more than 200 hours.”
So, step 1 to actually getting more out of your life: be honest with yourself about how its spent. Maybe keep a time log. Or, use that phone you love so much to download an app that does it for you. For me, I noticed how much time I spend planning my time. I’m constantly making schedules and lists and, basically, writing what I am going to do. These are lists that I rarely finish in the time I’ve allotted myself, mostly because the list making takes up such time. But, I’m a list girl. So, I sought a compromise system. I spent a little extra time to create a “master list” of chores and to-do’s that repeat themselves on a daily/weekly/monthly basis (kind of like how you schedule people’s birthdays into your calendar). This way, on a day-to-day I’m only adding new things that need to get done. I’ve also started being realistic about time frames. I don’t make a list of 30 things all for one day when in the back of my head I know I’ll only get through 10 of them and am okay with spreading the rest through the week. I do that from the get go. That way, you don’t end up with a huge left-over list and feel like a failure – which then makes you do less because you think you won’t get to it anyway (psychological vicious circle). Anywho, that is my system. It’s still got kinks to work out and I’m still fighting the honest truth that I spin my wheels. But, I am most certainly not alone. Truth bomb friends: you’re probably not as busy as you think you are. So, take a mirror to your day and how you do things, and fix it!