Why People Struggle To Fit Time Into Their Day
Most people struggle to fit everything into their day. As a result, the day feels too short and is mainly consumed with things they don’t want to do. The usual approach to resolve this is to become more efficient with time management.
This strategy usually results in rushing around frantically to cram in as many activities as possible. This strategy also results in multitasking, which is seen as a high-value strategy for increasing efficiency. But how well does multitasking work? Can you say that you’ve seen excellent results in both efficiency and performance in the long term by multitasking?
I’ll have other articles that go more in-depth about how multitasking can limit you, but for now, let’s just say it inhibits you from being able to master anything. Instead of using multitasking or rushing around to create more time in your busy schedule, there’s a mindset shift that you can adopt to completely change the way you view time management.
Recognise How You’re Wasting Time
Make a list of every activity that you can think of that you do during a typical day. Go down to all the small details that you do subconsciously, like checking your phone for texts when you first wake up or looking at YouTube videos when you come home from work.
Plus all the more significant activities like cooking food or socialising with your friends. Your list might consist of 40 or 50 activities that you do throughout your day. Out of all of these activities, ask yourself how many of them are meaningful to you? How many of them are aligned with the goals you want to achieve?
This exercise will help you to come to a few realisations. Firstly, it will help you to realise how many activities you’re participating in during your day. When you think about how you spend your day, you’re just thinking about the main activities that you spend time doing. But you don’t notice all the small activities in between.
Secondly, it will help you realise how much time you’re spending on activities that don’t add anything to your life. All of these five-minute activities like checking social media add up, consuming hours of your life without you even realising.
What Happens When Your Schedule Is Full?
Rather than asking yourself how you can fit more activities into your day, you should ask yourself what activities are most important to you and which ones aren’t. It’s not that you need to fit more into your day; you need to cut out all the meaningless activities that aren’t serving you in any way.
You do many things daily that you think are important, but they are not serving you in any meaningful way. They’re not generating fulfilment; they’re not generating income; they’re not generating any desired results.
Let’s say you have a garage that you use for storing all of your possessions. You have a maximum amount of space to keep things. In order to optimise space, you’re trying to find crafty ways to fit more things in, like repositioning things in your garage, stacking boxes on top of each other.
But each time you’re hoarding all of these things, you’re making it more challenging to navigate around the garage. You’re having to spend a lot of your time and energy repositioning everything to find space.
Eventually, you will run out of space, and you won’t fit anything else in the garage. If you don’t have the budget for a bigger garage, your only option is to start getting rid of some items.
Your time management skills work in the same way. You’re hoarding all of these activities, trying to find crafty ways to fit more activities into your day. Each new activity you hoard, you’re making it more difficult to balance everything in your day. You have to spend more time and energy trying to work everything into this busy schedule that you’ve created for yourself.
At some point you won’t be able to fit any more activities in your day. You don’t have the luxury of increasing the number of hours in a day. Your only option is to start cutting out the meaningless activities.
Busy vs Minimalistic
One of the consequences of having an overloaded schedule is that you don’t have enough time to work on your problems. If you’re having motivation issues or financial issues, when are you getting the time to think through these problems and generate solutions for them?
When you’re constantly engaged in activities, you’re not giving yourself time to reset. For example, when you’ve had a bad day at work or something has gone wrong with your business, you don’t even have time to take a break and recharge. Instead, you engage in more activities that are further draining your energy.
You can’t set aside time to work through them because you’re occupied with many other tasks. Whereas if you only have a handful of tasks, you’ll have time to sit down and think through things.
Your life becomes so much simpler when you just focus on doing a handful of things in your day. You no longer feel overwhelmed or drowned in activities. You can also think a lot clearer. It’s challenging to have a clear mind when you’ve got many activities to fit into your schedule. But when you free up your schedule, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted.
When you get rid of all the unnecessary items in your garage that you don’t need, you’re able to walk around your garage easily without moving boxes or tripping over them. You can easily access any items that you need. It’s easy to see how much space you have. Similarly, when you have all this extra time in your schedule, you’re able to go about your day freely without having to squeeze things in, reschedule plans and having to cut into your free time.
The empty space that you’ve created will provide you with so many extra opportunities. You could park your car in the garage; you could put a home gym in the garage. Correspondingly, when you free up your schedule, this provides you with more opportunities. These could be opportunities to make money, opportunities to meet new people, opportunities to work on a passion or a hobby.
In the garage, items at the back are hard to access because so many things are blocking you from getting to them. Likewise, with your schedule, your goals are hard to access because there are so many meaningless activities that you’re doing that are stopping you from achieving them. So when you take the minimalistic approach, it steers you towards your most ambitious goals because there are fewer obstacles in the way from reaching them.
When you start cutting out the meaningless activities, this frees you up to do the important things to you. The minimalistic approach to time management means that you don’t have to spend time and energy organising and restructuring lots of tasks.
Scheduling Time for Activities
Even if you make a list of 40 or 50 things that you do throughout the day, this still won’t capture everything that you do in your day. You will spend time doing things that you don’t even realise you’re doing. Like if you spend twenty minutes procrastinating before starting a task.
An effective tool for creating more time in your day is to schedule times for doing certain activities. For example, schedule a time for studying, schedule a time for going to the gym. The benefit of doing this is that it reduces a lot of the time in your day that goes unaccounted for, shaping how you spend your day.
If you know you’re going to the gym at 7 pm, you know what activities you have time for beforehand. If you get in from work at 6 pm, you know what you can do in that hour before going to the gym, and you’re much more likely to manage your time well.
Just knowing that you’re going to the gym at some point in the evening doesn’t mean much. Some point in the evening could mean 7 pm or 9 pm. That could give you a 2-hour window to engage in meaningless activities before you finally decide to leave for the gym.
You’re much more efficient when you schedule time because you feel that your time is more valuable. So when you start cutting out all the procrastinating and do things efficiently, this will provide you with a lot more time in the day.
Time management isn’t meant to make your day regimented so that you have a plan of what you’re doing every minute of the day. Trying to plan out your entire day would also be a mistake because you need some flexibility in your day.
The best approach is setting time for doing essential tasks and then having the flexibility to do other tasks. You’ll find that if you get all the important tasks done, like working on your start-up business or going to the gym, you’ll naturally pick the activities that are meaningful to you when you get home.
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