I hardly come across people who say they have enough time to do things they want to do. And the truth is that most of us feel crunched for time. Don’t we?
We have a long list of tasks to complete, emails to respond to, work and non-work commitments. And we haven’t begun talking about other stuff like exercise, hobbies, reading that we would like to fit in.
So why do we get this feeling, this time crunch? Is there something we are missing?
Truths About Time
A day has 24 hours. It is fixed. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now, how do we feel at the end of the day if we fail to get things done that we really wanted to? ‘I wish I could have done that also.’ In a way, we blame the day for not ‘meeting our expectations.’
On the other hand, if you feel satisfied with what you manage to do, the day feels ‘enough.’
So, it gets down to the expectations of the amount of work we think we should get done in a day.
We usually tend to overestimate how much we can do in a day. If we measure realistically the number of things we can do in a day or a week, it won’t be something to write home about. So, we need to work around this reality and see how we can get stuff done.
Getting organized and focusing on the work at hand is important. But would it make much difference if you were cramming in non-essential stuff and focusing on them?
The key here is to decide your priorities first.
Then ask yourself if you actually live this way. Once you know what your priorities are, it is much easier to focus and get organized.
Your priorities should not be somebody else’s obligations. They should not be what they are ‘supposed to’ be. They should be you, that make you feel more like you.
We know that blaming the clock does not help. The roots of the time crunch can be found in our own minds.
Here are some insights to that can help differentiate between real time crunch and the unnecessary pressure we burden ourselves with.
Enjoyment and Passion
Mr. Einstein when talking of time said that ‘Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour.’
It feels like an hour because nobody enjoys putting a hand on a hot stove.
Similarly, a day feels less busy when it is packed with some engaging activities. How the time flies!
And what happens when we are not having fun? The drudgery gets too much sometimes and we just think of getting through the day somehow.
In a study, more than 2,500 employees at a technology company were surveyed. It was found that people who were more passionate and did things that mattered to them, were more relaxed and focused than others.
If you feel crunched for time, you are probably not enjoying the activities of your normal schedule. Not everything we do can be enjoyable but if you feel overwhelmed often, then you need to add an activity that you enjoy, or used to do but had to give up before due to some reasons.
Should I or shouldn’t I, that is the conflict..!
Feeling this perennial lack of time is not just about how much we enjoy or hate going through our daily activities. It is also about being pulled in different directions. Say, you want to carve out some time daily for a hobby. That might mean spending a few hours each week which you usually spent on completing work you brought home.
Now you need to prioritize what is important. Not putting in that extra hours may mean somebody else getting that edge over you at workplace because that person is willing to work longer hours.
So, if you feel that you are not living up to a certain set of norms by focusing on something else, you automatically end up neglecting another set of norms.
Like everyone on this planet, you also get 24 hours. If it feels like you can’t include anything else in your day without feeling a sense of inner conflict, it is rather better to let that go.
A Feeling of Control
We all have non-negotiable tasks and responsibilities. Fixed working hours, buying weekly groceries, dropping kids at school..
You have your own tasks cut out too. You have your hands full. But it still feels that somehow you are not in complete control of your time. The day ends just like that. Taking care of this, doing that.
Why are we often caught in a time crunch? Is it because of how we perceive time?
Rather than going through life thinking that ‘we must control what we can,’ many of us feel that many external forces control our life and are kind of helpless.
Try not to get distracted. Keep your eyes on the prize. Optimize your to-do list. Say no if you can’t really do favors for people.
The Value of Your Time
In a society where fulfilling material needs is considered important to feel happy, we often spend much of our day trying to work long hours and make more money.
As we try to fit in more and more in our 24 hours, it is undeniable that we tend to value our time based on the returns we get. If working an hour more means extra money, most of us would do it.
This way we intentionally create a scarcity of time. Now what happens is that in this scramble to earn more, we fall short on time and don’t get time to spend the money.
This does not mean that feelings of time pressure are imaginary. People’s working conditions, personal responsibilities, or the amount of time they work can really occupy their day.
It is safe to say that time pressure is a result of our perception of time’s value, psychological processes, and our incorrigible desire to cram more into the limited waking hours.
Unfortunately, there is no way to extend 24 hours we all get. So, we all need to recognize that the problem is that we fail to appreciate the time we DO HAVE.
Learn to work with focus and appreciation. Relax into each task. Instead of worrying about what you are not doing, appreciate what you are doing with what you have.