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You Have More Time Than You Think

“Time, that sweet luxury, and the close ties it inspires, usually happens in college, when days move slowly around similar events.” -Diane Ackerman

There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 672 hours in a month. After sleeping and working there is still time left to focus on what matters to you. Yet, time can be wasted very quickly. Over the years I’ve wasted a lot of my time; activities that come to mind include watching bad TV, spending way too much time on Twitter, and going to networking events that I didn’t enjoy.

To manage my time more effectively I’ve incorporated a few very simple time management rules into my daily routine. These simple rules have helped me create more time for solitude, work, exercise and my relationships. Today, I thought I’d share those rules with you!

1. Track it.

Late last year, I felt like I was wasting too much time so I started tracking it. I printed out a copy of my Google calendar and recorded how I spent my time for one week. I recorded all of my activities, including:

-Sleeping
-Eating
-Exercise
-Work
-Internet browsing and TV watching.
-And other odds and ends.

My time tracking results surprised me. Why? Well, I had a whole lot more time at my disposal than I thought. For example, I noticed that I was spending way too much time on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. So I changed that behavior and starting reading more often.

2. Say no.

At one time I said yes to everything and that ate up my time really quickly. Now I use a different strategy. I only say yes to projects, events, and visits that excite me. Working on Your Lovely Life is a great example of this action plan.

3. Create space for solitude.

By tracking my time and saying no more often, I’ve created space for solitude. I need time by myself to think deeply about ideas and to write. Without alone time, I feel frazzled and unable to come up with good writing ideas.

4. Listen to your body.

When I was younger, I would push my body to it’s limits. If my knee was feeling bad, I’d keep biking or running regardless of the pain. Now I listen to my body. For example, I wasn’t feeling good last week and had to forgo a “girls night” with my friends. I didn’t want to give-up a night on the town but I needed to catch-up on sleep. And that saved me a lot of time. Rather than battling a cold for a week, it was gone in a few days.

5. Limit TV consumption.

In 2006 we gave our TV away to a friend and I don’t miss it. Occasionally, I watch a movie or The Daily Show with Logan on the computer. And when I’m at my parents place I watch the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. Over the course of a month, I watch two or three hours of TV. Five years ago, I spent about fifteen hours a week in front of the TV; that’s 60 hours a month! Instead of zoning out in front of the TV, I love snuggling up with a good book.

6. Use the Internet mindfully.

In July of 2011, I took a month long digital sabbatical because I needed a break from the web. The sabbatical helped me refocus and re-prioritize my online time. For example, when I open up my browser I’m intentional about what I’m doing, whether that means doing research or checking my email. Just like TV, I can spend way too many hours on the Internet. I love the Internet, but I also know there are only so many hours in a day.

By incorporating these six simple rules into my daily routine, I’m a whole lot happier and healthier. And it all started with the simple act of tracking my time.

If you want to dig deeper into this topic consider signing up for Make Time, a course from Your Lovely Life. It begins on May 7th!

A Giveaway

Most of the time, comments are not open on this site. However, I’m going to keep them open on this post for the next few days. Why? Courtney and I are giving away 3 free memberships to Make Time.

If you’re interested in participating, you’ll need to do a few things.

First, answer this question: If you had more time, what would you do with it? Please include your response in the comments section.

Second, you’ll need to join our mailing list. We’ll announce the winners on Thursday afternoon via email. We’ll be using random.org to choose the winners.

Questions? Send me a note: tammy(at)rowdykittens(dot)com.

Please Note . . .

Comments are closed. Courtney and I will be announcing the winners, via email, on Thursday, April 12th. If you haven’t signed-up for the list, be sure to do so! Thanks for participating!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • leslie April 10, 2012, 6:10 am

    I’ve been thinking on this topic a lot lately. I am at the point where I realize the time is there for me to use in a more beneficial way, but I am still struggling a bit with making the switch. My priorities are reading, exercising, and being with the people I love, but I still gravitate towards mind numb-ers like tv and the internet after a long work day. Work in progress!

  • Chris O'Byrne April 10, 2012, 6:12 am

    How could I pass up such a lovely opportunity! This post is so perfect for me right now because I know (in that silly lizard brain knowing) that I don’t have enough time. Thanks, Tammy!

    If you had more time, what would you do with it?
    I would spend more time meeting people and looking for ways to help them. I would also spend more time writing books that help people. These are both very important to me and part of my life path.

  • Margina April 10, 2012, 6:18 am

    If I had more time I would sew and exercise more.

  • JenneferJ April 10, 2012, 6:37 am

    With more time, I would find a way to get to the rock climbing place and climb. I want to do that so much and yet I can’t make it happen.

  • Teri Kojetin April 10, 2012, 6:43 am

    I really enjoyed this article. I work from home now and I have had to manage my time so it doesn’t get out of hand. I schedule in pretty much everything during weekdays…not just work, but time for creativity, computer, exercise, socializing and even relaxing. I feel like my days are well-spent.

  • Julia April 10, 2012, 7:01 am

    I’ve been working on making more room in my life for things that matter for a while now. I quit a stressful job that was keeping me from doing the things that mattered to me, and I moved to the mountains because I now have the freedom to live where I want to. I’m cooking almost every night, I hardly drive anywhere anymore, we just converted our front room to a yoga space, and I’m making part of my living through words. There are still a few things, though, that I haven’t been finding the time for. I haven’t been reading or writing for myself as much as I’d like to. I want to start running again, but I just haven’t found a space for it yet. Also, I love to play the piano, but it seems like I only do that once a month or so.

  • Jill McD April 10, 2012, 7:16 am

    If I had more time I would spend it with my own 3 rescue dogs and the foster dog “du jour”. Either playing in the yard, training them to do fun tricks or taking them out on a long walk on a nearby nature trail.

  • John Thomas April 10, 2012, 7:22 am

    If I had more time, I would more consistently write songs. I would schedule more time to just “be” with my wife (usually over coffee). I would play with my kids more (away from the wii).

    And I realize it’s really an issue of using the time that I have more wisely. So, that’s what I want to focus on more.

  • Dawn April 10, 2012, 7:23 am

    If I had more time, I would
    1. Completely de-junk and simplify my home;
    2. Since our home is so large and we are not currently able to sell and downsize, find an acceptable way to share it with others (means repairing and preparing rooms);
    3. Find a way to point my business in a more creative direction (literary translation and non-fiction translations that are more meaningful to me, but which, unfortunately, also mean earning less);
    4. Do more with the gardening and textile crafts that I love, possibly teaching others how to do the same.

  • Ramona April 10, 2012, 7:27 am

    If I had more time I would do Yoga and Pilates.

  • Jason B. April 10, 2012, 7:30 am

    To be honest, at this point if I had more time, my most pressing use for it would be to figure out what to do with it. Right now I’m feeling a lot of energy pushing me into new projects, but it’s moving me in a variety of different directions and I’d like to find a way to be more unified in my efforts: Recently I’ve started studying Japanese and German (I’d studied both in the past but had lost them due to disuse), started learning the material necessary to get my ham radio license, and written queries for a couple of writing projects. If I had more time, I could sit down and try to figure out where these impulses are trying to take me and how to most efficiently channel my energy.

  • Gemma April 10, 2012, 7:30 am

    If I had more time, what would I do with it? I’d spend more time learning to grow vegetables with my partner. It is a love of his which I have yet to experience and which I would love to share.

  • Cynthia April 10, 2012, 7:39 am

    If I had more time I would go on more walks with my fiancé and the dog, visit more with friends, and read more.

  • Jenn1A April 10, 2012, 7:55 am

    With more time, I would read and exercise more.

  • Rebecca April 10, 2012, 8:09 am

    If I had more time, I would focus more on my health. I would make nutritious meals more often and rely on convenience foods less. I would exercise regularly and go for hikes more often. I would stop delaying important check-ups. I would get more sleep. It would be wonderful to be able to invest in myself instead of using all of my energy on my never-ending list of “urgent” tasks.

  • Christy April 10, 2012, 8:12 am

    Wow. If I had more time all to myself, I would actually get some writing done. And reading, so much reading. And if I really found some of those minutes that are MIA, I would sort all my photos so that I could actually find them in iPhoto. 🙂 As a work at home mom, nearly every second is spent in a special little one’s company. When someone else has the little love, its hard to take time for myself because I have business I need to finish. BTW the making space course was absolutely Lovely!

  • Victoria April 10, 2012, 8:26 am

    If you had more time, what would you do with it?

    Well, as you pointed out, I have all the time I need if I focus on my priorities and don’t fritter it away mindlessly! I’m currently changing my priorities to spend more time reading & writing & learning.

  • carolina April 10, 2012, 8:58 am

    Thank you for this lovely giveaway!

    If I had more time, I would practice pull-ups more, read more, and write more. :o)

  • Patricia Collins April 10, 2012, 9:53 am

    If I had more time there would be music in my life. My work schedule fluctuates and I work less in the summer. I’ve found I play my guitar more in the summer and it evaporates as soon as my work load increases in the autumn. But if I could be a consistent musician, I would learn to pay the piano. I can’t justify buying a piano when I don’t practice regularly, but I don’t seem to be able to make myself practice regularly.

  • meira April 10, 2012, 10:09 am

    If i had more time i’d spend it outside with my border collie “oreo”, i’d read, finish my novel for nanowrimo and keep a journal and meditate daily. These are things i’ve been trying to do, it seems that i just don’t have the time, i feel like i’m pulled in a million directions instead of the one way i would like to go. While being a student take a full credit load on campus is hard too, my mom drives me there because i don’t have a car and it feels like my life is both dragging by and rushing past me at break neck speeds. I need more time, just to be “me” and to be with those around me….

  • Alannah April 10, 2012, 11:07 am

    If I had more time, I would be doing more preparation for my future work as a therapist! I have not been able to make enough time for reading lately, and I am not always focused online when I want to be researching or reading relevant articles. I am drastically cutting down on tv and have basically quit Facebook, but I still manage to waste a lot of time on other things. I have just started a volunteer position as well, so I’m going to need to be even more organized about my free time now!

  • Tara April 10, 2012, 12:13 pm

    There’s a book I’ve been dying to write for the last several years, I’ve done a ton of research, but I never have time to actually sit down and write. (Though not sure how much is really time, versus energy and writer’s block.) Would also like to read more “real” books, the type that take concentration and focus.

  • Benny Rebergen April 10, 2012, 1:07 pm

    Self exploration, would be my answer. I know there is time enough to do it. Yet, those moments are packed between busy moments and therefore easily forgotten — at least, that’s my case.

  • Heather April 10, 2012, 1:53 pm

    If I had more time, I’d spend it hiking and exploring with my daughter and husband. I’d travel and volunteer. I’d identify one or two big projects and devote my time to them.

  • Aime Lopez April 10, 2012, 1:57 pm

    If I had more time, I would:
    * Read more, I have tons of books waiting for me to put just a little attention..
    * Practice Piano, I take a class once a week but I never practice! I have to practice at least 30 minutes daily…
    * Excercise, I always put tons of excuses that I’m busy, this and that and never excercise as I should…
    * Learn something new.. like a new language (Italian, French!!), or play the guitar, play the violin, Painting… I always wish I could do something like this but never got the time as the other things…
    * Spend more time with my dogs… I love them but I don’t think I put enough attention to them…:(
    I will start my list tonight and save time!!!

  • Amy C. April 10, 2012, 2:08 pm

    If I had more time, I would have more down time with my husband and kids to just sit back, enjoy life and each other’s company. Our precious hours together are scrunched down into the time between getting home from work after an hour long commute and before they head to bed. They are growing up so fast, so I would definitely find more time to cherish with them at their current age and stage of life. And, for myself, I’d definitely travel more and work on some creative/crafty projects that are just ideas floating around my head!

  • Girelle April 10, 2012, 2:20 pm

    I’m a new entrepreneur working a full time job in education, a field that is very time consuming. Moving my business forward, learning the ins and outs of social media and keeping up with the demands of my day job often feels overwhelming. I used to panic and do nothing until I learned from Tammy about Nathalie Goldberg’s ‘Writing Down the Bones,’ which taught to set aside a set amount of time each day to ork on my business. I dont go to bed without putting at least 45 minutes into my business. When I have more time, those 45 minutes will multiply but my buiness will have grown.

  • Elizabeth April 10, 2012, 4:42 pm

    If I had more time, I’d spend it with my son outside. I’d spend it reading good books. I’d spend time working in my new backyard and garden.

  • Mike | Homeless On Wheels April 10, 2012, 6:58 pm

    It’s nice to see the comments open again, Tammy!

    If I had more time, I’d probably write more, read more, and do more music and photography.

  • Xoe April 10, 2012, 6:59 pm

    This is a fraught topic for me. I have had phases of admirable time management, but then I find myself forgetting my good habits. I have trouble saying no to people I am close to and as a result mindless hanging out eats up a lot of my time. It’s interesting because I think a lot of people feel that they don’t have enough time for close friends and family, but I find I spend time with them to the exclusion of other pursuits I enjoy, such as practicing piano and sewing, both of which are very private to me. I want more time to be by myself.

  • Kim April 10, 2012, 7:44 pm

    If I had more time, I would pursue my art more vigorously. I would produce more, try more things and get involved with other artists in collaborative adventures.

    (Of course, I have all the time I need – I just have to use it to its fullest advantage!)

  • Misty April 10, 2012, 8:09 pm

    With more time I would focus more seriously on my photography stuff, specifically on learning Photoshop and catching up on photography books I have purchased but not yet finished reading. I would make my daily workout longer by about 15 minutes. I would make a serious effort to simplify and declutter, move towards minimalism, and prepare for a massive purge/garage sale/donation haul. Oh yes- and BREAD. I will make yet another attempt to make bread. I have failed numerous times and need to make time to master this. And finally, a few more snuggles with my two little girls.

  • Lana Phillips April 10, 2012, 8:31 pm

    If I had more time, I’d spend it learning more about the world around me and being a part of it instead of just watching it go by me.

  • Sarita Li Johnson April 10, 2012, 8:36 pm

    If I had more time, I would spin on that beautiful spinning wheel in the living room, instead of letting it collect dust. Also, I would learn to dye the lovely yarn I spun.

  • Brenda Alvarez April 10, 2012, 9:12 pm

    Read. Write. Run. Sleep. Repeat.

  • Elizabeth April 10, 2012, 10:57 pm

    If I had more time, I would spend it learning more German. I have been living here for eight months and I spend many hours each day trying to learn. However, it’s never enough. Until I can speak the language better, I am very limited in the number of opportunities I have in my small town. Once I can speak, I can work, volunteer, and be an active community member. This is really important because right now I feel that my interactions are limited to professionals and young people, as they are the ones who speak English. It feels incomplete.

  • Katie April 11, 2012, 3:08 am

    Hey Tammy, I love this blog post, it is so relevent! I love how you show the ways that you CAN find time during your day. I like to think I am very pro-active and productive, but I do admit to zoning out in front of the TV or getting lost in twitter feeds! New resolution: whenever I find myself watching banal TV, I will switch it off and go and read a book instead. Hurrah!
    If I had more time, I would learn a new language, perhaps portuguese. I would go for looooong walks around the mountains and take time to take stunning photographs. I would read more, and write more. I am going to endeavour to make more time for these things from now on, and achieve them!
    Incidentally, I have been reading a book called How to Live on 24 Hours A Day by Arnold Bennett. It’s really interesting, and is all about maximising your time. Think you may enjoy it too.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas and great writing with us, you are a very inspiring lady.
    Keep up the great work!
    Katie. xxx
    p.s.s.s.s.t.t.t.t.t…I’ve subscibed to the mailing list too 🙂

  • Shari April 11, 2012, 3:33 am

    If I had more time, I would appreciate my husband more, read, read, read, and run longer.

  • anne V April 11, 2012, 3:41 am

    If I had more time i think i would not have rushed in some activities. So if I have more time I will check the different tasks, rest, and after all choose what is the best to do

  • Diana Baur April 11, 2012, 4:53 am

    The unmitigated truth is that if more time was given to us, we’d continue spending it exactly they way we spend it now.

    What we do with our time has very little to do with how much of it avails itself to us. It’s always easy to say, boy, if I had more of it, then I’d be the person I always wanted to be. But being the person I want to be isn’t dependent upon how much time I have. It’s dependent, as you explain, Tammy, on how consciously we take the time we have and use it mindfully.

    That said… if I had more time, I’d make more bowls and develop even nicer glazes and write, write, write. But I do those things now, so my first sentence still stands, I think. xo

  • Betty April 11, 2012, 5:54 am

    Due to a downturn in work over the last few months, I actually have quite a bit of time… and I know that I’m squandering it by spending too much time on the internet.
    I find myself browsing a topic I’m excited about (such as minimalism, simplifying one’s life) and then, instead of turning the computer off, I compulsively read more and more about it. Then the next day, I might read more of what I’d already read, to somehow ‘reassure’ myself that my opinions on such topics are ‘right’ (does any of this make sense?!) Then of course, I’ll browse other topics of interest in the same strange cycle of ‘stimulation then numbing’ – get excited, feel motivated to DO something new (write a blog, go out, something…) but I just stay stuck, reading the same things.
    So many people wish they had more time… I almost wish I had less, because I can feel something is unsettled in me. I think I’m afraid because I just don’t know what to do to fill my time. I live in my head too much, instead of doing more.
    Thanks for giving me the chance to really think about this. It has been on my mind of late (especially when i wonder, night after night, why I’m still on the ‘net at 1am when I had planned on being kind to myself and getting a good night’s sleep…)

  • Rachel April 11, 2012, 8:50 am

    I’d spend my extra time playing silly computer games. Apparently, I have way too much time on my hands. Of course, that’s probably because I’m in college… 😉

  • Sheila C. April 11, 2012, 9:45 am

    If I had more time, I would spend it in my garden. I currently have a butterfly garden that woefully needs more attention, so I would definitely spend more time there. I would also develop a hummingbird habitat in several “wild” areas of my yard and I would plant a “real” vegetable garden instead of just growing a few veggies and herbs in containers.

  • shannon April 11, 2012, 11:01 am

    If I had more time I would first exercise more and secondly spend more time w my family…

  • Sarah April 11, 2012, 11:02 am

    I would use my extra time to finish a sweater I’ve been knitting on and off for a year, or finish the series of short stories I’ve been working on. I think, in general, I would use extra time to finish the ambitious things I’ve already started…and neglected.

  • Julia April 11, 2012, 11:44 am

    If I had more time… well there are about 500 things falling into my mind like sewing, playing my Cello, going to the gym, …but in fact I would just look for a nice place outside and watch the clouds in the sky. Then I would be very relaxed and very thankful for being able to enjoy such blessings.

    btw- your post on time is great. I feel that I am in a life changing situation at the moment and I soaked your words up like a sponge soaks up water… That was part of inspiration I need so badly at this time! Thanks for sharing it!

  • Shawn April 11, 2012, 7:06 pm

    I was just thinking about this on the way home. Learn French and investigate a career chice that would allow me to feel valued, appreciated and fullfilled.

  • Erin April 12, 2012, 3:23 am

    What would I do if I had more time?…There are so many ways I could answer that question! But I think the biggest one would be to get outside more. Especially now that the weather is nicer. I’d love to have the time to just stroll around, go for bike rides, have picnics in the park, and just enjoy the natural world.

  • Eileen April 12, 2012, 3:52 am

    Just reading this entry makes me realize how much “unintentional” time I spend on the Internet. If I used even 30 minutes of this time intentionally, I would have the time (that I think I don’t have) to make my home spaces less cluttered and more inviting. Thanks for an inspiring message.

  • Mandy April 12, 2012, 5:35 am

    If I had more time….. I would go on a rampage, purging our home of items that are no longer needed, useful or beautiful. I would paint our bedroom and finish all the white trim in our home, as well paint my Mammaw’s kitchen & bathroom for her 86th birthday wish, with the paint that is already bought, just waiting to be used. I would also spend more time with my Mammaw and mother-in-law because they tell the best stories that I want to be able to recount for our son.

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