I’m sure you don’t feel too busy, right? You have plenty of time for everything you want to do? You’re on top of it all, right?
What’s that you say? You don’t feel like that? Well, it’s hardly surprising, I think it would be tough to find someone who does feel this way. We all have so many things in our lives vying for our time and attention. Things like work socials, school fundraisers, birthday parties, weddings, bed time stories, writing that blog post (wink wink), learning that new language, painting the kitchen, leading Bible study, training for the 5k. Modern life can feel especially busy with the world and everyone in it at our fingers tips. TV, radio, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and thousands more battling it out for our attention. If you didn’t feel busy earlier, you might now!
I’ve always struggled with busyness. Thinking being busy meant I was productive and being productive was the most important thing. It’s easy to feel busy. It’s easy to feel like we just don’t have the time. But, I’m here to tell you that you probably do and the solution might be as simple as changing your language. I recently came across this quote (and a TED talk) from Laura Vanderkam in the Wall Street Journal and it has started to reframe how I think about my time:
Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.
So for many of the neglected things in my life it’s not a matter of lacking time, it’s that I don’t want to do them. I’ve found having a way to make me think in terms of priorities, rather than time, has helped me make more time for the things that are important to me. It’s also helped me in another way. I’ve always wanted to read more books but was never able to find the time. I have plenty of things like this that build up in my mental backlog that just make me feel busy and guilty. Now, practising this small change in language has helped me realise why I don’t have time for them, it’s because they’re not actually that important to me. So now I don’t need to worry about trying to pull that book off the shelf and instead feel good about doing things that are important to me like taking my son for a walk or having friends over for dinner.
If you’d like to hear more about how to spend time on the things important to you I’d highly recommend to watch Laura Vanderkam’s TED talk “How to gain control of your free time”. It’s only 11 minutes and I’m sure you’ll be able to find the time!