“If only there were more hours in the day” we say, as if 30 hours would give us the edge we need, rather than the ungenerous 24 we have to make do with. Note to self: we’d soon be moaning that those 30 hours were not quite enough either.
Time management hang-ups and a need to get some order into our out-of-kilter lives generate the uneasy feeling that we’re not living how we could. Or should. We are jealous of people “with the time” to put together a complicated, brilliant travel itinerary or an entertaining dinner party, claiming we are just too pressed ourselves. Ask any of us to name our greatest luxury and we’ll soon be gushing about more time. If only we lived that other life where time passes like a slow-running clock; where we’re never late and days pass in a state of leisurely efficiency rather than permanent tail-chasing.
3 simple ways to find more time
- Create not-to-do lists. Decide what is most important for you to do and jettison, postpone or, best of all, delegate the rest. As Tim Ferris, author of the 4 hour Workweek suggests, make not to do lists: list all the things you can offload onto others or tick off as not necessary to get caught up in after all.
- Ditch the myth. Work/life balance is a seductive dream that has tormented working parents for years and now inspires everyone to believe they don’t have it right. It appeals to our sense of order, of things being always in the right place. Instead of dreaming, give priority to what is most important at each moment in your life, a new job or project for instance. If this means that a new relationship needs to be be put on hold or a holiday postponed, then so be it. By allowing ourselves to pursue what we really want, we need to learn to let go of stuff that can’t be had at the same time. Ultimately, this will allow us to be more relaxed and focused on what is important, which slows down our sense of time passing.
- Embrace novelty. The reason time seems to speed up as we get older is that things which felt novel and unfamiliar when we were young, like foreign trips or hang-gliding become familiar with time (even if we still enjoy doing them). We need to give ourselves new and unexpected experiences to slow down time and allow it to stretch out before us again. Take a new route to work, make new friends, pick up new, tricky hobbies like archery – the more novel the better. Embracing the new ditches the drabness of familiarity and starts to stretch our sense of time.