Isn’t it interesting how lockdown has changed how we spend our time. Whilst everyone has a different story to tell about lockdown, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their use of time affected in some ways.
For many people this has been positive; saving time on travelling, less conflicts of time with no places to be other than home, fewer things to organise & plan. Perhaps more time with their children, more time to rest, pause, get some perspective and look at the bigger picture.
For others too much time in lockdown can be a bad thing, particuarly for those living alone, or those self-isolating even with family members. Endless time on your hands can lead to lethargy, procrastination over small tasks, poor sleep and unstructured times.
Having too much time at home, even before lockdown, can be a strain for high-achievers. For example, one of my clients is newly retired from an extremely successful career in which her time was managed to the minute every single day, and her achievements were widely recognised. She had purpose, status, recognition, but very little time to herself. Now she has that time, but stuggles to find her new purpose and manage her time in a way that gives her balance between achievements, and downtime.
Balance is the key. The right amount of time to balance the things we should be doing, and the things we want to do. Balance between time spent on others, and time for us.
If an unexpected benefit of lockdown for you has been the extra time, and you don’t want to go back to how life busy and stressy was before, this is a good opportunity to put in place some new practices to help with that.
My top 5 tips for getting the balance of time right.
1. Reframe time in your mind, change the way you talk about it, for example replace ‘I don’t have time for x’ with ‘x is not a priority right now’. If you are constantly telling yourself and others that you ‘don’t have time the right amount of time, then that is how it is going to feel. Try to make these more positive comments, even if it isn’t true to start with, you will start to believe it and feel calmer and more in control as a result.
2. Try not to multitask. For a while this was kind of trendy, but it is now thought to lead to mistakes and less productivity. Plus it is more stressful. Concentrate on 1 job at once and get it done properly.
3. Prioritise key tasks each day that you want to achieve, if you get more than these done then great, that is a bonus. Try to get 1 done as soon as you can in the day to make you feel positive and encouraged.
4. Whether you have too much or too little time, use a calendar rather than a to-do list. Things are much more likely to get done if they are on the calendar and planned. Make sure to write on your own downtime too. And for those with too much time having something on the calendar each day is more inspiring than writing a very short to-do list.
5. If you don’t know where your time goes /can’t seem to achieve what you want to achieve, try writing 2 lists. 1 being a list of everything you currently do spend time on (including social media) and the 2nd being the things you want to spend time on. Look at the current list again, and see what you can ditch and replace with something you want. For example if you spend time cooking tea every day and don’t want to, then double or triple your cooking quantities, freeze the extra, and use that time better.
Lastly, what I see from some of my clients is that our online world can take up a large proportion of their time without them realising. I hesistate to write this now during lockdown as there are perhaps very few of us who have not felt advanatages of being connected via and phones and tablets. But, when back out of lockdown, if life is getting frantic again, be honest with yourself about how much lost time you have each day due to that little rectangle of connectivity that lives in your pocket or bag. Again it is a question of balance.
If you would like any further resources to help you think about how you spend your time, I can recommend Dr Chatterjee’s books and podcasts – for those with limited amounts of time he provides great strategies for incorporating some wellbeing into our lives on a daily basis. Or try listening his this podcast with James Wallman.
If you would like any help getting the timing balance right in your life do get in touch with me, I would be discuss how health coaching can help.