How To Find Time To Do Everything

image: dan james
image: dan james

Recently, after finding I was not finding time to do everything I wanted to (know that frustration?), I sat down to write down all the stuff I would like to fit into a typical day.

I thought by writing it down, I could maybe switch the order around a little and make it fit.

My list looked something like this –

Day job – 8 hours
Sleep – 7 hours
Family time – 3 hours
Food preparation and eating – 2 hours
Downtime with partner – 1.5 hours
Photography (taking photographs) – 1.5 hours
Online – emails, blog, communities – 1.5 hours
General washing/dressing etc – 1 hour
Photography (scanning & organising) – 0.5 hours
Yoga – 0.5 hours
Walking – 0.5 hours
Reading – 0.5 hours
Travelling (work/school) – 0.5 hours

Total – 28 hours…

That’s without all the in between to and fro time that falls between the cracks, and that can add another hour or two.

Obviously, 28 hours doesn’t fit into a 24 hour day.

On top of this, when you try to cram too much in, the enjoyment and quality of each experience suffers too.

Rather than be blissfully immersed in each moment, you often find you’re rushing through, going through the motions, and constantly glancing at the clock in anticipation of your next task.

You’re in constant state of low level anxiety, a far cry from simple enjoyment, let alone blissful immersion.

Being four hours over in a single day is frustrating.

But after two days, you’re eight hours adrift. After a week, you’re 28 hours behind, after a month, 120 hours.

In other words, for every month you try to keep this kind of schedule, at the end of it you’re five whole days behind where you think you should be.

Let’s not even start to calculate years!

All of this of course adds to further frustration and dissatisfaction.

The answer, I realised (again – this isn’t the first time I’ve gone through this kind of review of my time), is simple –

Find time to do everything.

The key word in this sentence is not time, it’s everything.

If everything means something similar to the list I came up with above, then it’s not going to work. It’s not possible.

So we need a different approach. We need to redefine our “everything”.

There are some core activities we all need to stay healthy. Sleeping, eating, and, as I have long argued, creating in some way.

Others are less vital, though of course to maintain the lifestyles and relationships we have, we also need to work to earn money, and to invest quality time in those relationships.

Beyond that, we can be more selective.

It comes down to our health, ultimately – mental, physical, emotional.

Which activities are essential to keeping us healthy and able to enjoy life, and which aren’t.

For me the kind of questions I asked (and continue to ask) are –

– Is spending an hour and half online every day a better use of my time than sleeping, so I feel fresh enough to function properly? Um, no.

– Do I need to take new photographs every single day for one and a half hours, and spend another half an hour on scanning and organising? Plus another half an hour walking? Not really.

I can photograph less often, and make it more special, more enjoyable. I’d rather take my time and shoot one roll of memorable photographs I’m really pleased with, than reel off three or four that are full of mediocre photographs at best.

And I can incorporate the walking within that process too.

There’s little I enjoy more than wandering the countryside, or a new part of a city with camera in hand. But I don’t need to do this every single day, and if I did it would lose its charm.

– Do I need to always try to prepare and cook a delicious dinner every night? No, sometimes it’s fine to just have beans on toast, and use the half hour or hour saved playing with the kids.

There were, and continue to be, other questions, but you get the idea, I’m sure.

The main point of writing this post is to get this message across –

We don’t have time to do everything, if “everything” is more than fits into a 24 hour day.

So we need to redefine our everything.

Once we do, once we take back control and consciously choose, once we reprioritise our health and well being (without which we can’t do much of anything, let alone everything), we can begin to enjoy the different aspects and activities of our life again.

That old saying “less is more” is true in so many parts of life, and it’s certainly true for what we’re talking about here.

How much do you try to do in a typical day?

How much is your enjoyment of each activity suffering, because you’re trying to do too much?

Join the conversation on CCS to let us know your thoughts and experiences.


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