You’ve heard it all before: “time flies when you’re having fun,” or “time heals all wounds.” You’ve also heard that money can’t buy happiness, but the fact is that no sum of money can buy more time. There are thousands of quotes about the value of time, yet the following one reminds us of the importance of this very topic: “time is what we want most, but…what we use the worst.” Stop for a moment and let that sink in. Eventually, we will all reach a point where we run out of time, but the goal is to look at what we are doing before that in order to avoid regret. According to various articles, some of the biggest regrets of older folks are failing to use time wisely, live in the moment, and be truly happy. These problems can stem from working too hard, from not treating each day like a gift, from failing to realize the finite nature of our being, and from so much more. But, since time is so important, the proper use of it should be a consideration in each and every one of us.
It seems that time is our most valuable resource, as it is non-renewable, ever fleeting, and always moving. But technology allows us to save time, right? We no longer have to hunt for our food, and we don’t even have to shop for it anymore, as we can summon it to our doorstep with the touch of a button. However, despite all of our time-saving apparatuses, we remain so busy and still “don’t have time.” Living in the frantic pace of Northern Virginia can be the epitome of squandered time, as we spend the majority of our days working hard in order to have more, but usually end up enjoying less. So, we must ask ourselves, is it worth it? For some, the answer will be yes, and for others, no.
Perhaps you’re like me, and don’t have a consistent schedule due to the demands of your current career. Maybe you have a difficult, high-pace job where you come home exhausted. Perhaps your days off are sporadic and are spent sleeping in and trying to recover before doing it all over again. Or, maybe you are on summer break, and don’t really have a plan for what you want to accomplish. For some, time is spent doing things that aren’t important to us, while others waste time altogether. Regardless of your situation, if you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to make the most of your day, it can be late afternoon before you even realize that all you’ve done is had coffee and watch YouTube (this just happened). Rest and recovery is certainly important, and plays a role in everyone’s life – even the greatest thinkers and most successful people. However, it’s much more likely for those folks that there was a period of time carved out for that recovery, rather than taking the entire day and wondering why more didn’t get done overall.
Let’s not get confused – technology is fantastic, down time is important, and I’m certainly grateful to have an opportunistic career that provides me with the resources to satisfy my basic needs, but none of these are valid excuses of I we can’t accomplish my goals, dreams, and aspirations. Being “too busy” or saying “I don’t have time” could really be rephrased into “I didn’t plan well enough” or “I didn’t make time.” So, if you find yourself struggling to do things that are truly important to you, try thinking about how you can use your time more wisely. I’m here to tell you that whatever that “it” is that drives you, that motivates you, or that is important to you, whether that’s spending more time with your family, learning a new language, accomplishing a new skill, starting a business, getting jacked and tan – YOU DO HAVE TIME.
In my recent quest to accomplish more, there are a few things that I have found to be helpful in maximizing each minute that I’m given. So far, here is what has worked for me:
1) Having routines – if you know you do the same thing each at the same time each day, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it, and thus eliminates willpower, decision making, and procrastination. If you have a 9-to-5 (I don’t), getting in the habit of waking up early to go to the gym can allow you to have family time in the evening. Moreover, knowing that you are going to get up early everyday will help dictate how much TV you watch at night. For me, knowing that I do certain things on certain days, every week, has helped prioritize those tasks and has helped me stay consistent and on schedule.
2) Scheduling in blocks of time – giving yourself a deadline can help motivate you to get things done quickly. If you have the entire day to finish a task you may get sidetracked looking at some of the two billion people on Facebook. Contrarily, if you know you only have a two hour block to accomplish a task, you can dedicate all of your time and energy to completing it within that time frame. Spending a small block of time entirely dedicated to one task is exponentially more productive than spending several hours with little focus and tons of distractions.
3) Keeping a journal – Writing things down allows you to have a tangible resource that you can look back on. It allows you to reflect on the past, present, and future. Spending five minutes in the evening to chronicle your day allows you to be grateful for what you have accomplished, to focus on what else needs to be done, and to prepare to do better the next day. Just as most of us keep a workout log to track progress, the same principles can be applied to getting better each day.
4) Making use of little things – For example, listening to podcasts during car rides or while folding laundry, cooking dinner or working out with a spouse or friend, making a quick phone call on your lunch break, waking up a few minutes earlier to stretch and do some reflection are just a few ways that enable one to do things that may easily get overlooked otherwise.
The fact of the matter is you’re not too busy, and you do have time to do the things you want to do. It may take a little bit of extra planning and preparation to make it work. But, if it’s important to you, you should do it, especially since you don’t have forever to get *it* done. The best time is the only time you have: now.