Do you say ‘I don’t have time’ too much? Here’s how to manage your time better with a change in mindset, and Mac productivity apps that will restore the hours in your day.
It’s already July. Where has the year gone? For that matter, do you remember the millenium? Children born in the Millenium will now be graduating from high school and heading off to college. Where has the time gone?
“I don’t have time” is said way. Too. Much. Period. Yet we all have 24 hours in the day, so how do some people seem to have so much more?
Statistics are now showing us how “I don’t have time” is just blatantly wrong. We work less than we used to, and we have more free time. Yet that is far from the experience of most people.
But why? There’s one simple explanation, which is that we’re spending too much time on our screens, even when we’re not working. In a 2017 Ted Talk, psychologist Adam Alter analysed why our screens are stealing our time, and the reasons why this isn’t good for our mental health.
It goes beyond our screens though. Being busy has become fashionable, a badge of success. It used to be that having made it meant that you had leisure time. Now, it seems that the wealthy and successful have more jam-packed schedules than any of us.
So how do you break out of this culture where being busy is a status symbol, and develop a mindset of time abundance, rather than poverty. From work time apps and Mac productivity apps to a change in the words you use in daily life, here are some ways to reclaim the hours in your day.
Watch Your Language: Stop Saying “I Don’t Have Time”
When you tell people that you don’t have time to do something, you’re not taking responsibility for how you use the hours in your day. From brushing our teeth when we get out of bed in the morning, to meeting a deadline, everything we do in a day is our choice.
What happens if we stop brushing our teeth? They’ll fall out. If we don’t meet our deadline? We’ll lose our jobs. Regardless: these are choices within our control.
Stopping saying that we don’t have time can be a powerful act in itself. Language shapes the way we think, feel, and interact with the world. The more we tell people we don’t have time, the more we believe it, until we’re living in a constant state of time scarcity.
A simple way to replace this sentence in our vocabulary is by saying: “it’s not the priority” or simply “no”. Both of these bring the responsibility back to you, and put how you use your time under your control. It’s easy to get more money, but once time is spent there’s no replacing it. If you protect your time, you’ll be able to use it on things which truly matter to you. As Warren Buffet says:
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.
There’s a sense of power to be gained from this one simple shift in vocabulary. You’ll start to find that you’re working because you chose to, rather than because you feel you ‘have’ to.
Work Out What Really Makes You Happy
Part of the culture of being busy is that this is the way to happiness. If your mindset is that busy equals happy, how is that working out for you?
It may be cliché, but money doesn’t buy happiness — and stress definitely doesn’t. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
If you’re working towards something and it’s causing you stress, why are you doing so? Is it to please your parents, or society?
The side effect of wanting less is that it often frees up your brain to be more successful and productive.
If you start by taking a look around your home, how much do you really need? The more stuff you own, the more you have to clean, look after, and worry about being broken or stolen.
Owning and buying things can be an addiction just like drugs. We buy something, experience a rush of endorphins, but this soon fades and needs to be repeated.
If we’re being busy for the sake of having stuff, then we’re perpetuating a cycle of unhappiness: we work harder to buy things to make us feel good, which requires more money, which causes more stress, which requires more money to be spent to relieve… you see where I’m going with this?
Valuing those things in life which can’t be bought but which bring happiness: time spent with loved ones, and in nature, will pay off far more in the long run. Making conscious decisions about how you’re spending your time, creating an abundance of time, then spending it doing things that are genuinely nurturing will lead you to a far happier and more productive life than one spent chasing your own tail.
Manage Your Time So You’re Not Hooked up to Screens
If you work online, it’s important that your leisure time is spent away from screens — otherwise there’s no distinct break between work and play.
If you watch home design programs, you’ll often see them creating an office space that’s separate from your living space when you work from home. It’s important to be able to close that door at the end of the day, even if you live in a studio apartment so it’s purely a metaphorical door.
What isn’t being mentioned, though, is that — for many — their work is their laptop. So if you take your laptop with you everywhere — you have your work with you at all times.
A 2017 Gallup survey said that 43% of the US work from home at least some of the time. That means that almost half of us are taking our work home and having it invade on our leisure time.
Ten years ago, only a fraction of our free time was spent on our phones and tablets. Now, with emails, social media, and the rest of the internet all at our fingertips, only a fraction of our time is spent not using our devices.
This in itself creates the illusion that we don’t have free time: because we’re spending it looking at things we need to do, or should do. Social media breeds the unhealthy habit of making comparisons, as we are confronted with people who on the face of the things seem to be more successful than us. They have nicer things, fancier cars, bigger houses, and a more impressive title at their job.
Our response to being immersed in this bubble? We feel the need to compete, and consequently we become stressed at our lack of time.
In his book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — and the Unexpected Solutions, Jonathan Hari says:
The more you think life is about having stuff and superiority and showing it off, the more unhappy, and the more depressed and anxious, you will be.
In his book, he argues that we’re losing connections to others, and consequently we try to ease our loneliness by turning to the internet and social media. Which, of course, only reminds us of what we’re missing out on. Of the internet he says:
The difference between being online and being physically among people, I saw in that moment, is a bit like the difference between pornography and sex: it addresses a basic itch, but it’s never satisfying.
If we manage our time better so we spend time away from our devices in our spare time, then we’ll be interacting with real people.
Track Your Time with the Best Mac Productivity Apps
A simple way to work out where your time is actually going, and how it breaks down over the course of the day, is to use a work time app like Timing to track the hours of your day. Are you spending too much time flipping across to Facebook? Or being unproductive?
Often we feel like we’ve worked an entire day, but in reality we’ve only accomplished two or three hours. A Mac productivity app will help you reclaim lost time, and help you realize that, in face, you have more time that you thought.
We’ve talked before about how to structure your day with time tracking techniques. Tracking your time is an effective way to find where your time is really going.
If you want to find out how much time you’re spending on your screens when you’re not working, installing Moment on your phone is a good way to do so. It works with your iPhone to tell you how much time you’re spending on your screen: simple as that. When I installed it, I found that I’m spending at least an hour a day, every day, using my phone — and more frequently, two hours. And once iOS 12 will be released this fall, it will include a similar feature called Screen Time, so you can see how you spend time with your iPhone without even having to install a third-party app.
What could you be doing with that hour that you say you ‘don’t have time’ for? Going to the gym? Writing your novel? Catching up with an old friend, or calling your parents? Even if some of that time is messaging friends, how much of it is valuable and enriching interaction?
Breaking free of the time-scarcity mindset will have far more of a positive effect on your life than just helping you to be more productive. You’ll find yourself feeling happier, sleeping better at night, and moving through your day without the constant feeling of being in a rush. It’s time that we stop glamorizing being busy, and start prioritizing being happy.
Want to work out where all your spare time is going? Download a free trial of Timing and find out.