Time flies. We all have felt it at some point. From our first, childhood memories of summer break to the first summer we had no break. From celebrating the last day of high school as a perky teenager to suddenly experiencing the first day of Kindergarten as a parent. From giving our parent’s grief to grieving for our parents. Yes, time flies.
And though we recognize we cannot stop time and we cannot slow time down, we still waste time. We waste time on things that do not matter and things that do not give us joy. Filling our days mindlessly.
As difficult as it might be, you must make time work for you. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. To help you get started, here are three ways you can begin taking control of your time starting today.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME
Prioritize what gets your attention. Above all your health must come first. If you are not healthy you cannot serve. You must do what is necessary for your physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual self to be fed. Making time for self-care is not selfish, it is necessary.
Second to health is stealth, or relationships with others. Once time passes there is no going back. Nurture relationships with your loved ones, make time to laugh and live. Splurge on a night out. Skip that work thing. Sit and lose track of everything around you.
And finally, wealth. Earning income is essential to maintaining a quality of life, just don't make it your life. Set boundaries and stick to them. Have open conversations with your supervisor, team and clients regarding how you can flex your time. Leverage technology to make it a win-win for everyone.
DELEGATE AND EMPOWER
Give others a chance to try. This goes for chores at the house, activities of the non-profit, projects at work and anything else where there are others who can take on the task. Allow them to do what you are doing or teach them. If you are constantly doing everything for everyone then they will never learn the value of DOING. Not to mention, by doing everything for everyone, we cut into time for ourselves and the things that matter to us. We must be willing to trust those around us to do things as well.
If there is no one readily available to delegate something to and it is a task that still must be done, hire someone or something else to do it. Many people have a maid come in to help clean around the house. Don’t want the monthly bill? Purchase a Roomba or Bravaa, two robots to at least take something off your plate by cleaning your floors for you. Consider investing in tools that can automate processes for you.
Do not be afraid of letting go. It is quite liberating.
JUST SAY NO
For many people, especially women, this is the most difficult thing when it comes to blending work and life. The most common thing I hear, is “I would feel guilty if I said no.” All the while they are secretly stressed and bearing a weighty animosity. Others (ahem, cough, me) push through because they think they can do it all and want to help heal the world but end up crashing hard and everything falls apart.
Whether it stems from a feeling of guilt or fear or not wanting to disappoint or a false sense of being able to do it all, we tend say "yes" when we want to say "no." Too often we stretch ourselves thin and end up stressing ourselves out. One word can change all of that. No. If you struggle with this, practice in the mirror, "NO." It takes practice and a confidence to actually do it when the time comes, but it is doable and incredibly empowering.
Time is finite. And because we do not know how much we have, we must be willing to be stingy with it and spend it in the places that matter doing things that matter. Setting boundaries and leveraging technology to create a life that is rich for not only us, but for those who depend on us.
I have a super fun workshop that I lead to help people better understand where they spend their time. Email me at Ashley@ashleyrenecasey.com to set up time to talk about how your organization could benefit from the workshop.
We want “it” badly. We emphatically believe that having “it” will change our lives drastically. We dream of “it” frequently, fantasizing about what we will do when we have “it.” And then, we get “it.”
Elation rushes through our body. A smile plasters our face. Our minds are blown that we finally have “it.” We praise God for “it,” thanking Him for answering our prayers. We share the news with everyone we know.
For a while we are happy. Time passes however and the joy we felt for “it” is gone. The newness wears off. “It” becomes normal and sure enough “it” is replaced by “IT.”
Sound familiar. It is what psychologists call the Hedonic Treadmill or hedonic adaptation. It is how psychologist describe the we treat happiness, suggesting the following cycle: desire -> work towards desire -> obtain desire -> increased happiness because you obtained desire -> adapt to new way of life because of obtaining desire -> enter new desire -> repeat cycle.
We often believe happiness is found in increased pay, more stuff, job promotion, changed living situation, and other external factors. This is not to say that desiring more is wrong but it is to say that fixating on external factors to make us happy is dangerous.
When people stay on this cycle of always wanting, they never truly feel happy because they are always wanting more. They rarely feel satisfied because they are focused on next instead of now. In a Pew Research of various countries in 2014, it was noted that when the surveyor asked the participant if they were having a good day, more people in the poor countries said yes, over those in wealthy countries. That is certainly a phenomenon worth noting.
So, what can you do to avoid a dangerous trip on the Hedonic Treadmill?
1. Focus on Relationships
The more you can build positive, supportive relationships, the better perspective you can have. Relationships are the backbone to who we are. We rely on our network of friends and family to be our rock. Focus on the beauty in your relationships and nurture them. Steer clear of comparing yourself to those you build relationships with. Enjoy each other’s company and relish in what you both are going through in life.
2. Focus on Being Grateful
Research over the past couple of decades has shown us that the more gratitude we routinely express, the healthier and happier we are. Keep a daily record of what you are grateful for. Intentionally share what you are grateful for with others and encourage them to do the same. Emotions are contagious, so share a good one.
3. Focus on Being Present
Oh boy do I struggle with this one. One of my Gallup Strengths is “futuristic,” so my mind loves going to the future and hanging out there. The danger in this however is that I sometimes miss what is right in front of me, what I have now. Dream so that you are motivated to act on your dreams; but bring yourself back to reality and acknowledge the amazing things in your life at that moment. Difficulty finding amazing things? Reel yourself into being grateful for the journey.
4. Focus on the Journey
If your plan is to live a long life, strap in for the ride. There will be wins and losses you will go through. Take time to appreciate them all. Strive towards the goals you desire and enjoy the journey of getting to them. Enjoy the ups and downs. Enjoy the uncertainties. Enjoy the failures. Enjoy the celebrations. Take life as it comes but always remember it is a journey.
You deserve to be happy – no doubt about it. I simply caution you to remain aware of how you position happiness. Is it dependent upon someone? Is it tied to an event? Are you relying on something else to be the catalyst to your happiness? Once you obtain it, will it truly make you happy or will you adapt and get stuck and become a catatonic zombie on the Hedonic Treadmill?