“I always feel that I don’t have time to sit and do anything, but I suspect that my phone is the mysterious time gobbler. Perhaps if I had a good book of these (adult coloring books) I’d even put down my phone for it. I’m certain it would be healthier than following the “news”. My daughter has 3-4 she got as gifts and I actual feel wistful when I look at them.”
I really understand the hidden time suck that can pull our time and attention away from things we care about most!
For a long time when people would make recommendations of things they thought I’d enjoy – books, activities, etc – I’d often think to myself, ‘it sounds nice but I just don’t have the time’.
Of course, if I would tell the person this, they would usually agree that I really was busy. No one is going to tell someone with ten children that she’s not really that busy! And to be fair to myself, my life is full of good things. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for something else.
I passionately believe in the ability of a person to choose and proactively create the life he wants to have. Yet when I used ‘busyness’ as an excuse, I was denying my own power of choice about how my time was being spent.
Everyone is given the same 24 hours every day. No one has more time than anyone else. At some point, I began to ask myself, am I really as busy as I think I am? Where is my time going and am I happy about where I’m investing my life energy?
Asking myself this question wasn’t easy, because it meant being willing to hear the answers. I had to acknowledge to myself that I spent too much time online and stop justifying to myself that this was appropriate downtime at the end of a full and busy day. Even though much of my ‘relaxation’ was productive (blogging, researching), too much of it wasn’t. For example, I didn’t need to read news articles about how the world is falling apart. It gave me a false sense of connection or influence, a sense that somehow I was doing something by reading the article and feeling outraged.
Once I did this exercise in honesty, I decided it was time to shift this pattern and use that time in a way that was more in line with my goals.
But it’s not so simple to change a long standing habit. Not at all. Especially when that habit provided me with my only quiet time during the day without children around.
I began increasing my boundaries around my computer time by thinking of it as an act of self-love. Had I tried to shame myself into change by lambasting myself for being lazy or undisciplined, it never would have worked! At some point I made my computer my ally instead of my temptation by setting it to shut down by 10:30 or 11 pm. That took away some of the struggle to discipline myself to be time-conscious when I was so tired.
Bit by bit, I made time for other things in my life by using this same process – honestly assessing how much time was being spent on various activities, was it time well spent, and considering how I could use the time differently in a way I would feel good about.
It’s not easy to do this. As I’ve changed my use of time to reflect my higher values, it’s increased my sense of well-being and balance. And perhaps ironically, I’ve been able to be of more service to others because I made taking care of myself more of a priority.