It seems as though the older I get, the less time each week holds to accomplish all of the things necessary in life. As the days get longer, I find myself surprised by how late in the day it is and am left wondering how the time flew by so quickly. When I reflect, it’s often hard to pinpoint exactly where the day went. Robert Brault says, “Life is short, God’s way of encouraging a bit of focus.” And indeed, without a little bit of focus, it does seem like life passes by with such brevity. Here are a few of the things I’ve noticed that seem to steal time out of our days:
Technology. Technology is one of life’s biggest time suckers. That includes everything from countless hours looking at others’ vacation photos on Facebook, to sorting through the barrage of advertisements in your inbox every day. Set some limits for yourself on screen time (especially before bed, when screen light can delay the release of melatonin), unsubscribe from unwanted emails, and unplug for a portion of your day.
Clutter. Clutter is the enemy of time. A cluttered living and work space guarantees you’ll waste time moving stuff from one place to another and searching for lost items. Finding a place for everything, getting rid of duplicates and items you don’t need, and spending a few minutes each day putting everything in its place will save you time and frustration in the long run.
Failing to plan. We’re all guilty of this one, but failing to plan will ultimately cost you. Multiple trips to the grocery store throughout the week, emergency trips to your child’s school with forgotten field trip cash, buying a pricy last minute birthday gift – these things can all cost you time and money.
Waiting in line. No one likes to wait in line, and luckily with modern technology, you rarely have to. You can do everything from ordering groceries to checking into your flight online now. If you have to head out into the crowd, avoid peak times such as hitting the grocery store right after work, shopping at the beginning of the month right after payday, or eating out at 6:00 pm in the evening.
Watching bad movies and television. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked out of a theater or gotten off the couch and thought, “That was awful.” Yet I devoted an hour or more of my time to it. Everyone needs to de-stress, but the mindlessness of television watching can waste away hours better spent somewhere else, especially when a bubble bath or glass of wine on the porch can have the same calming effect.
Fighting the same old battles. Whether it’s getting the kids to bed or over chores, settling these issues once and for all, even if it means setting a bedtime-timer or making a chore chart, can eliminate wasted time.
Over-committing to things you don’t care about. It’s hard to say no sometimes, but if you find yourself being dragged into supporting causes and committing time to things that aren’t important to you, you’re likely setting yourself up to be stressed and resentful. Pick and choose those commitments that you are passionate about and let the rest go.
Dwelling on past hurts and others’ opinions of you. If you find yourself mentally rehashing the same conversations or dredging up anger at past events, you could be wasting precious time in the present by being mentally stuck in the past. Let it go and focus on the good in the now.
Sleeping when you should be awake or lying awake when you should be sleeping. As an insomnia sufferer myself, I can attest to how sleep deprivation can affect your life. Making sure to get enough sleep and addressing any sleep problems with your doctor will make the quality of time you have awake that much better.
Charles Buxton had it right when he said, “You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” Let’s make more time for those things we care most about and waste less of it on the menial, so that in the end we’re not stuck asking ourselves, “Where did the time go?”